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How A College Graduate Can Nail The Perfect Resume

How A College Graduate Can Nail The Perfect Resume

If you ask most people, “Why would you write a resume?” their answer would be “to get a job.”  The best answer to that question is to get an interview.  At the career center I work at we call resumes marketing pieces.  You as the applicant are the product, and you are marketing yourself to the employer.  A resume is a document with your features and benefits.  In other words, your skills and the results your skills will provide your future employer.  So, as a college graduate your resume will look a little bit different than someone with more work experience.  This is how a college graduate can nail the perfect resume:

Use the job description of the post for which you are applying.

Match your language to their language.  Match your skill set to the skill set they require or prefer.  Most companies today scan resumes into a computer data base that scores resumes based on matched words. If you don’t use their language chances are your resume will never make it into the hands of the recruiter.  The exception to this, (and the best way to go) is to get your resume into the hands of the recruiter or hiring manager by a referral.  However, if your language and skill set doesn’t match theirs’ you probably won’t make it past this stage either.

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Use bullet points.

If this article was one long paragraph that went on and on, would you read it? Neither would I.

Use a modified version of the STAR method when writing bullet points.

The STAR method is how you will also answer the interview questions you will be asked once this resume gets you the interview.  STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.  Where did you do the action? What was the task?  What was the action?   What result did your action produce?  On a resume you will use a modified version because the heading answers the question of where you did the action. Let me give you an example:

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  • Created a customer spread sheet comprised of products our top 100 customers did not have which increased cross sell by 80%

Notice I have a percentage sales were increased.  Numbers are the language of business.  If you can’t measure results, employers will not be impressed, and this leads me to the next component of the perfect resume.

Quantify your results

As I stated above, numbers are the language of business.  It is important to use the words from the job description, and it is equally if not more important to use numbers to measure your past successes.  As an employee your effectiveness and success at the company will be measured.  Promotions and raises will be based on your performance and the way businesses measure performance is with numbers.  You will want to set-up your resume in the same way because past performance is an indicator of future success and you will want to demonstrate this in a language they understand.  Your message should always be, I am what you need and I can prove it.  Quantifying your results proves your success.

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Leave out high school.

You may have had huge success in High School, but you are no longer there.  A resume written by a recent college graduate should include class projects, internships, relevant work experience and community service.  High School experiences should not be on your resume.

GPA

GPA or grade point average is a tricky one only if you have one below 3.0 or a B average.  If you leave it off, most employers will assume it is bad.  If you include below a 3.0 on your resume you will not go into the callback pile.  My advise, 3.0 or higher put on your resume, below a 3.0 leave off and maybe your experiences will get you into the right pile.  Of course the best thing to do is to study and avoid this situation all together.  Once you have a job grades do not matter.  When you are coming out of college however, decent grades send the message to employers that you can learn.  The ability to learn is very important to an employer because in the first year of your job they will have a lot to teach you.

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Work history

You do not have a 15 year work history.  One page is the standard length and what a recruiter is looking for.  A one page resume is easier to read, keep track of and scan for companies.
If you stick to these basic principles your resume will stand out and put you in the best light.  Remember, a resume is a marketing piece and you are the product.  You are what the company needs and you can prove it.

Featured photo credit: The Internship, 20th Century Fox via google.com

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late

How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late

The wake-up call often comes when you least expect it. Maybe you’re enjoying a relaxing get-together with your old college buddies when someone turns to you and says, “Wow, I never thought you’d become an investment banker. I always thought you’d write a novel!” If this leaves you wondering how to change careers, you’re not alone.

Before you know it, you find yourself remembering your old dreams—and comparing them to the career field where you are now. Life rarely goes according to plan. Marriage, kids, and grandkids often come earlier than imagined—or later.

Maybe you pursued one career path because you were considered the breadwinner, but now someone else in the family is the breadwinner. Conversely, maybe you landed a job, thinking you’d stay for six months, and now you’ve been there for sixteen years.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that “baby boomers held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52″[1]. For millennials, who are more technologically apt, that number is likely to be much higher.

As this proves, it’s perfectly normal to change careers and begin a job search even when it seems too late! Steering your way through a career change is part calculation, part chance, and part leap-of-faith.

If you feel stuck and are ready for a career change, take these steps to guide you.

Step 1: Be Mentally Prepared

These points can help you master the psychological aspects of a career change at any age.

Now or Never Is a Fallacy

For most professionals, there is no cut-off age for striking out in a new direction. People do it at all stages of their careers.

If you’ve ever dreamed of leaving a large company to start your own business, you are not alone. Similarly, thousands of entrepreneurs and people working for one-man shops decide each year that they’d like to work for larger organizations.

You’ll find hordes of baby boomers looking for a redo alongside mobs of GenXers and Millennials—especially as the boomers now remain in the workforce longer than their predecessors.

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Your Career Is not a Straight Line From A to B

You don’t have to have your career trajectory completely decided from the start. In fact, that’s an unrealistic expectation, no matter how methodical you are.

People change. Industries merge, morph, and in some cases, disappear. Careers rarely follow the straight and narrow.

Many careers can be compared to journeys—there are the adventurous patches, boring patches, downright scary patches, and the hills and valleys, too. The trick is to try to have a little fun while you’re charting out your various careers.

Don’t panic if you find you need to change your career. It may take some work as you sort through job posts, write cover letters, and pursue your dream job, but you’re up for it.

Career Changers Are Among Good Company

Consider these well-known trailblazers whose careers took a radical turn:

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, studied computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton, went on to establish himself as a Wall Street prodigy, then quit to launch Amazon.com.

Sara Blakely, a billionaire businesswoman, was a fax machine salesperson before creating her signature slim wear line, Spanx.

Jonah Peretti, co-founder of the media sites Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, initially taught computer science to middle schoolers.

Be Ready to Take on the Naysayers

Expect plenty of advice—usually of the discouraging kind—from friends and family when they learn that you’re exploring a career change. Those you know best are often the most vocal in trying to thwart your plans.

Be prepared to field a flurry of pessimistic conjecture and doomsday scenarios. Know, though, that when your loved ones question your judgment, they’re not necessarily doubting your talent but trying to look out for your wellbeing. Stepping out of your comfort zone will make anyone close to you uncomfortable.

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Keep in mind that pessimists avoid the unknown, while optimists invite new challenges. Above all, believe in yourself and follow your instincts. Don’t let your fear of change paralyze you from seeking out your new career path.

Project an aura of enthusiasm, energy, and passion. You’ll find it’s contagious.

Step 2: Be Proactive

These tips can help you master the practical aspects of changing careers at any age.

Take Baby Steps

Ease into your new direction. Start building the skills you’ll need to make the switch.

Find out what skills you will need, and do whatever it takes to add them to your skills arsenal. Make the time to invest in additional training.

Start by devoting a half-day each week to your new pursuit until you’re ready to confidently make a move.

Clearly define where you want to go and what you’ll need to do to get there. Take an inventory of your strengths. Read trade magazines, and study up on industry trends.

Volunteer

Charitable organizations are often looking for volunteers to help them with their outreach, social media, and engagement. You can show up without the requisite skills and learn as you go in a fun, convivial, low-pressure environment, which will help you expand your experience and skills.

Take Online Courses

Today, LinkedIn and many other providers offer online courses in everything from accounting software to time management to mastering Excel. For extra credit, see if you can find classes that award online badges for completing each course.

Don’t be shy about adding these certificates to your online profile. Keep your profile fresh by adding more and more skills to it.

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Take a Temp Job

Depending on your field, it may be possible to freelance at a company where you learn on the job.

Remember that you can’t just show up at a potential employer’s claiming you have the skills. Taking a temporary job that allows you to polish your skills is proof that you’re serious about your career change.

Network!

Build a family tree of contacts. Explore beyond the main branches of your work acquaintances, industry groups, and social contacts. Join your alumni organization. Tell everyone.

Ask friends and friends-of-friends to meet you for coffee to explain what it is they do and tell you which skills you’ll need to succeed in your chosen field[2].

When you want to learn how to change careers, start by networking!

    If you have friends or associates with ties to the organizations where you want to work, ask your contacts to make an introduction. The majority of today’s jobs are found through one’s own networks. When jobs open up, companies invite informal recommendations from internal and external channels.

    Step 3: Take It Online

    This last step can help you master the online aspects of a career change at any age.

    Develop an Online Presence in the Field of Your Dreams

    Reconfiguring your online presence will be a critical step in your career change. Fine-tune your digital identity to reflect your new direction, tailoring your profile to the role and industry you’re after. Include keywords that are relevant to the industry so that recruiters can find you.

    Craft a clever personal statement that states your interests, your values, and your dreams. Once you’ve zeroed in on your message, also pick and choose which outlets make the most sense for it.

    Will your personal statement resonate on LinkedIn? Or is it highly visual—making it a better fit for Instagram?

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    Polish your sites until they gleam, then get active so others take notice. Add insightful content to your social media pages that goes deeper than the information on your resume, such as commentaries on something taking place in your newly chosen field.

    For more on how to build an online presence, check out this article.

    Final Thoughts

    Americans spend 1,800 hours or more each year working. That’s nearly one-third of your life, and it goes without saying that your job satisfaction and career goals have a great bearing on your life’s happiness barometer.

    Set out to intentionally pursue career satisfaction, looking for opportunities to fine-tune your working life so that you find fulfillment.

    If playing the piano is your personal bliss, could you meld your love of music with your clinical psychology background and find a job using music to promote healing? Perhaps there’s a foundation that would fund you in a multiyear study.

    Or, if you’re a movie buff for whom every encounter has the makings of a screenplay, why not sign up for an evening class and see if your years of writing advertising copy could morph into a career move into the film industry?

    Achieving your career change successfully will occur when you mentally prepare, take a proactive approach, and mine your personal and online networks. The pay-off will be in a life well-lived in a successful career.

    More Tips on How to Change Careers

    Featured photo credit: Jason Strull via unsplash.com

    Reference

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