Fresh college graduates often face a conundrum when the time comes to land their first job. Most companies prefer to hire people that have some experience. New graduates don’t get jobs because they have no experience, so they can’t receive the experience they need to qualify for the job!
It isn’t always like that, of course, otherwise there would be thousands of unemployed new graduates and experienced employees hopping from one job to the other. However, as a fresh graduate, you have to stand out from the competition to get a foot through the door. You need to highlight your qualifications and skills in such a way that you secure that crucial first interview.
The only way you can normally do that is to have a kick-ass résumé. Here are some tips from the experts that can help you get hired.
Keep it short and simple (KISS)
In a Forbes interview with recruitment agency Babich & Associates President and Unbeatable Résumés author Tony Beshara, he advises keeping content short and simple as the most important feature of an unbeatable résumé. “It has to be simple. No more than two pages. The average résumé gets read in 10 seconds. Be sure the content is on a level any high school senior could understand.” He also advises to avoid fancy fonts, templates, and fluff such as objectives and summaries.
Resumesplanet top résumé writer, Josh Waite, states that form matters. “Make sure that your résumé is free from grammatical and typographical errors. You would be surprised at how quickly it can go south for you even if you have the most impressive qualifications, if you can’t spell.” With so many résumés making it through the door, HR professionals will use any excuse to thin out the pile quickly. Bad form on a résumé or cover letter is one of the quickest, as it reflects on the professionalism of the applicant.
Highlight your accomplishments
Hiring professionals quickly sum up a candidate’s fit for the job based on their personal accomplishments. Make a point of highlighting yours by giving it a prominent place in your résumé. If you worked an internship in the same field, make sure you put that in as the first line in the “Professional skills” section.
Columbia Business School career advisor Janet Raiffa says, “It’s your résumé, and it should focus on what you did rather than what your team or organization did. Don’t lie or inflate your accomplishments when you’re writing your résumé, but don’t be modest either.” She adds, “It doesn’t need to be unique in terms of formatting, or funny, or overly creative. You want to stand out based on academic or professional achievement.”
Have a professional email address
One of the first things a recruiter will see on your résumé is your contact information, and the most important one is your email address. If you want to come off as the next great hire, avoid using childish email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It might have amused your classmates, but it does not make a good impression on a potential employer.
While it is important to be concise, your résumé should still have all the relevant information that a recruiter might need to know about you. When putting in your skills or qualifications, be specific. Point University Center for Calling and Career coordinator Melissa Roberts advises against using vague words such as “talented” and “hardworking,” because these do not impart any actual information to the reader regarding the abilities of the applicant. Other words to avoid are “involved in” and “assisted.” If you are a member of the debate team, mention if you won any awards. If you had a summer job at McDonald’s, mention if you were ever an employee of the month. Accomplishments denote excellence, dedication, commitment, and/or diligence, qualities that recruiters look for in new graduates.
Chances are, you will be applying for different positions in different companies. Even if the positions are related, i.e. marketing assistant vs. market researcher, you can tweak your résumé so that it is precisely for the particular position. You also have to consider the mission and vision of the company. If the company puts a premium on environmental protection, for example, highlight any volunteer work you did that relate to that. Cut out any information that is not relevant to the position or the company.
Come on strong
Because hiring professionals only spend a few seconds reading a résumé on the first pass, it is important to catch their attention in the first few lines. Have a strong opening line to set the tone for the reader. Include the position for which you are applying, and why you are the best candidate for it. It shows consideration for the reader, who may be filtering applicants for several positions, and demonstrates confidence in your ability to be up to the task.
It is important to remember that your résumé is the only thing the hiring professional knows about you. You can be the most charming, persuasive, and proactive person in the world, but you will not have a chance to demonstrate the many excellent qualities you have if your do not pay close attention to creating your résumé. In many cases, recruiters will only see you when you come for the first interview, and that will never happen if your résumé sucks. These seven tips from experts can help you craft a résumé that can get you hired.
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