Graduating from college is an exciting, but also scary time. For as many people that have a clear picture of what they want to do, there are infinitely more people who are unsure as to the career path they want to take. College is a wonderful experience; and certainly you gain a lot of experience, meet people, learn to study (and hopefully not have to pull too many ‘all-nighter’s), and perhaps even get some part-time working experience so you have some extra cash. Even with all of the classes and a chosen major, sometimes the path is not so clear. One thing is very clear though – whether you have known from a young age exactly what you will be ‘when you grow up’ or if you are still exploring you interests – you will need a résumé as you start your quest for entry-level employment.
When writing a résumé for an entry level graduate consider the following to help you:
Education: In many instances recent graduates do not have a plethora of experiences to draw from for the résumé. If you graduated within the year, it is fine to put your education at the top of the page. Consider adding some relevant coursework that is related to the position you are targeting. This will help the reader make a connection that you understand the theory behind the business. Have a high GPA? If it’s 3.5 or better list it. A strong GPA can set you apart from the pack.
Professional Experience: Your professional experience section might consist of part-time opportunities and seasonal employment. This is ok! Think about the things that you learned during those roles, the interactions you had with co-workers and clients (if applicable). Reference the positions and information that is relevant to the role, including things you learned that you could apply in a full-time position. For example, if you waited tables at a restaurant you might discuss your experience providing strong customer service, ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously, manage demanding clients, and ensure timely delivery.
Leadership: One of the things that hiring managers look for in young employees is their leadership capabilities. Were you part of any on-campus organizations? Did you hold any leadership positions or coordinate programs? You can reference information of this nature under a heading called Leadership and Extracurricular Activities. Volunteer efforts would also be included in this category with a short synopsis of your title and what you did, including any results (e.g. helped to build five houses for Habitat for Humanity; coordinated food deliveries for 50 underserved families; tutored children in mathematics and English to improve academic performance).
Skills and Additional Information: Are you a whiz at certain computer programs? This is the place to reference those things. Do not include email and Internet search. Of course if you know Microsoft Suite, reference that and any other programs that you can use easily. Speak one or more foreign languages? Put them in this section. If you are pursuing opportunities at a global organization your language ability can give you a leading edge.
Focus your effort, do your research, keep notes, and maintain an organized approach. Your perseverance will pay off! Don’t forget – you will need a cover letter, too. All of your document should match in font size and style. Approach your search in a positive and proactive manner. With a little bit of time and energy you will land a job that’s good for you.
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries. Visit careersdonewrite.com to learn more.