Career Resource Center

Just Graduated? How to Write Your Resume

Graduating is a super exciting and rewarding time in any person’s life.  All of the time, money, and effort you’ve invested in your studies is finally about to pay off.  You’re beginning the transition from your school life to the central focus being on your career.  Chances are that your friends and family have already been asking you questions about where you’re going to work and what you’re going to do now that you’ve graduated.

Unfortunately, many recent graduates can end up floundering in the time after they graduate.  The process of looking for, finding, and applying to positions is still something new.  It can take time to prefect.  With that being said, one of the most common issues we see at Resume Writing Group, with new graduates is a poorly written resume.  A poorly written resume can cost you months of frustration, thousands of dollars in wasted salary, and needless stress while you worry about finding a job.  Perhaps that’s why nearly 1/3 of all graduates end up unemployed.

Resume Writing – Tips & Tricks

Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks you can use to craft a resume that will get you hired.

What to put on your resume:

Resume writing is as much about what not to put on your resume as it is about what to put on your resume. Now that you’re graduating, you can leave off your high school education and those basic skills. Instead, showcase the skills and experience you gained while completing your degree. Ask yourself, what hard and soft skills do I have?  If you’re not sure what hard and soft skills are, here’s a helpful article on the topic. These could include everything from team leadership to Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks if you’re an accountant. Remember – you should focus on the skills most relevant to the positions you’re applying for.

Don’t sell your education short:

Every professional resume writer sees thousands of resumes from recent graduates that don’t actually focus on their education. This is a problem because if you’ve recently graduated, and don’t have a lot of work experience, your education is your primary selling point. Give your education the space it deserves on your resume.  If you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree, that’s commonly considered to be equivalent to five years of work experience, but only if you show employers WHY it’s equivalent.

Include the names of your relevant coursework.  For example:

Structural Engineering – Solid Works for Engineers – Into to Project Management

Did you complete any projects, challenges, tests, and/or certificates that you’re proud of?  If so, you should include a bullet-pointed list of these accomplishments so that employers know what you’ve done. Many employers haven’t been to college in years, so they may not remember all of the hard work that goes into completing high level classes and projects. If you want to get hired, it’s your job to put this information clearly on your resume.

Don’t forget to include your GPA (if it’s over a 3.0) and any honors you received during your education.  For example, if you earned a spot on the Dean’s List, make sure to put that on your resume. You’ll also want to mention if you won any awards or received credit for volunteer work.

The “Professional Profile”

You may have heard that “Objective” sections are outdated.  That’s true.  Don’t make yourself look old by including an outdated objective on your resume rather than a professional profile.

Your profile section should be placed at the top of your resume where it’s the first thing a potential employer reads. This section is your first impression, so make sure it showcases all of the reasons why an employer should be confident in hiring you.  Keep it concise (more than three lines but less than seven), and include as many accomplishments as you can.  Here’s an example:

  • Recent graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, who placed 2nd out of 200 entrants in a robotics competition
  • Well-rounded professional who has a comprehensive knowledge of MATLAB, Microsoft Office, SOLIDWORKS, and other software
  • Innovative and analytical thinker who was the “go to” leader on numerous group projects, requiring organization and communication

You’ll notice that every line is short, provides valuable information, and explains who you are without being overly descriptive.  You’ll have plenty of time in the interview – or in a description further down in the resume – to discuss your abilities in greater depth.

Your Work Experience – Or Lack Thereof

Don’t be concerned if you don’t have any strong work experience.  Most college students do not have ANY experience in their fields before they graduate.  Instead, you’ll likely only have part-time positions you worked at to pay for college.  These jobs can still be useful if you stick to these three topics and don’t oversell what you did:

  • Explain that you showed up on time and were reliable
  • Demonstrate that you were friendly, personable, and willing to learn new skills
  • Highlight that you worked hard, stepped up where needed, and were trustworthy when given responsibility

You really don’t need to cover more than these three topics. Employers who’re hiring for entry-level positions just want you to give them confidence that you’ll be reliable, friendly, willing to learn, and honest.  If that sounds like a low bar that’s because it is.  But – most recent graduates fail to cover these basics in their resumes. If you don’t get these basics right, you’ll be setting yourself up to receive significantly fewer job offers.

Include A Cover Letter!

I know what you’re thinking – this is an article about resumes, why is he writing about cover letters??  Because they’re IMPORTANT.  Why am I shouting at you?  Because most recent graduates don’t write one!

The consensus is overwhelming that a cover letter is critical to any job search. Writing a good cover letter can significantly increase your chances of getting a call back – especially if you’re a recent graduate. I’m sure you’ve heard that you need to keep your resume to one page, and that’s a good rule of thumb. Think of your cover letter as an entire extra page of space to discuss your qualifications.  It’s like when your professor says you can bring a page with notes on it to a test. You don’t want to be the person who showed up with no notes and who subsequently fails the test…

Keep your cover letter brief and to the point.  Explain why you’re a good fit for the position, what experience you have, and why the employer should read your resume. Leave off long-winded stories about your good deeds and personality traits.

If all of this sounds like too much work – or if you really want to invest in your career, our expert team of writers at Resume Writing Group can help. We’ve been helping recent graduates with their careers for nearly 20 years, and we can take the stress out of the job hunt for you.

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