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Resume-Writing Tips for New Graduates

Mar 30, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

New graduates have special challenges when it comes to writing resumes. You may not have a lot of relevant job experience—or your experience may be in a different industry than the one you’re transitioning to, if you’re a nontraditional student. However, there are a lot of things you can do to make your resume stand out—even if your job experience is thin. Here are a few resume writing tips specific to new graduates.

Focus on your education

If you’re a traditional student, you probably don’t have much work experience. If you’re nontraditional, you may have gone to school to make a career switch—or move up the ladder. In which case, your job experience may not be completely relevant to the next career you’re going for. In both cases, it’s not a bad tactic to put your education first. Include your major and date of graduation if it’s pending. Include your GPA only if it’s outstanding.

Highlight transferable skills

When it comes to job history, many recent grads have a mix of jobs that may or may not relate to their career goals—anywhere from babysitting to working in retail, serving in a restaurant, or various internships. Even if not all of your jobs relate
specifically to your goals, you may be able to find duties and skills developed
and performed in those jobs—that would also be valuable in the job you’re
applying for. Write your resume job descriptions with an eye toward highlighting these.

Man Holding Resume

Getting a job isn’t easy in today’s economy, especially for new college graduates.





Include a volunteer or extracurriculars section

As with your job history, include descriptions of your tasks as a volunteer—with an emphasis on transferable skills. More experienced workers won’t need to include a lot of information on volunteer positions, but for a new graduate, your extracurriculars can serve the same purpose as job descriptions, demonstrating past experience and transferable skills.

Include a skills section

If you have unrelated work experience with no transferable skills—or no work experience at all—it’s important to demonstrate another way that you have the skills to do the job. Before the education section at the top, include a skills section listing the areas where you have specialized knowledge. You could include skills that are useful in a wide range of areas, such as verbal and written communication, leadership, and creative problem-solving. But even more valuable are skills specific to your new job. Go over your transcript and pick out skills you can include on your resume that are developed in class and specific to the job you’re applying for.

Tailor the resume to the job

It’s never a good idea to use a single resume for a wide variety of industries and types of jobs. The more general your resume is, the less effective it will be. Bear in mind that you’ll be competing for jobs with other students who may have relevant job experience, extracurricular activities, and majors specifically targeted to that position. Since your resume is relying on emphasizing transferable skills, you’ll need to change those transferable skills whenever you’re changing the type of job you’re going for.

Include a cover letter

Without a good cover letter, a strong resume is not going to get read. A cover letter’s purpose is to generate enough interest in the reader’s mind so that he or she will move on to the resume. State your interest in the position they’re offering, include a summary of what you bring to the table, and include a bulleted list of your most relevant experiences and achievements. The idea is to show your qualifications and position yourself as having the experience, drive, and interest they’re looking for.

Getting a job isn’t easy in today’s economy, especially for new college graduates. But a strong resume can make the process a great deal easier. Write a resume that focuses strongly on transferable skills from your previous jobs, extracurricular activities, and classes. Know the types of skills required for the jobs you’re going for—and be sure each resume you send out demonstrates that you have those skills. Keep your resume well organized and limit it to two pages—bear in mind that most readers are receiving hundreds or even thousands of resumes for each position. Follow these tips, and you’ll be more likely to get calls for the jobs you want—without a long, drawn-out job search.



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