In today’s job market, new grads are in a unique situation as they find themselves competing against experienced employees who find themselves out of work. With the national unemployment rate hovering at 7.2 percent based on recent Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, young professionals are faced with the challenging situation of interviewing alongside candidates with far more experience. That said; it is important to have a strong resume, regardless of what end of the experience spectrum you currently reside. Here are a few resume tips for the novice and the experienced candidates.
New Graduates – Demonstrate your ability to work hard
Let’s face it; every interviewer you meet with knows you are a new graduate and that you won’t have a lot of experience. So don’t try to pretend you are something you’re not. New graduates should not walk into an interview with a three-page resume detailing every lemonade stand, car wash and babysitting job they’ve ever had. Populate your resume with meaningful experience that shows you work hard, are goal-oriented, and didn’t spend your summer playing video games and watching sitcom re-runs. Here are a few tips:
- Keep your resume to one page. Start with a brief introduction paragraph about who you are, where you went to school and what you are looking to accomplish in your career search. Many online applications no longer ask for a formal cover letter, but often allow you to enter an introduction or cover letter paragraph. This introduction paragraph on your resume will help you populate that field.
- Remember the 3.5 rule. It’s important to include your educational background including the name of your school and your major. However, many recent graduates feel it’s a necessity to put their GPA on their resumes, and that’s not always true. Stick with the 3.5 rule – if you graduated with a 3.5 or higher, flaunt it. If you’re below a 3.5, keep the numbers to yourself unless you specifically are asked. Helpful tip – check to see if your major GPA was higher than your overall GPA; if it was, include that. Whatever you do, DO NOT LIE. You could lose the job over it.
- Include work experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Experience such as internships, work studies, etc. that show your leadership, problem-solving and responsibility always are relevant. However there is nothing wrong with tailoring your resume to the specific job you are applying for, as long as you remain truthful. For example, if you are applying for a teaching job, the summer you spent as a nanny is a great way to show your responsibility with children, ability to plan a day of activities and timeliness and responsibility. However, the same experience can be spun to be relevant for an entry-level marketing job by demonstrating your sales skills to land the job, your creativity in activities you planned for the children and your timeliness and responsibility.
- Don’t forget to add skills such as languages you speak, computer skills you’ve mastered or any certifications you may hold.
- If you completed your resume and feel there still is a little too much “white space,” consider adding a one-liner on hobbies and activities. Steer toward relevant hobbies for your career, i.e. hockey for a recreational manager applicant, cooking for a restaurant manager or drawing for a graphic designer.
Returning to the Workforce – Show your Successes
While you never thought you would be in this boat again, you are back in the job-search pool. Regardless of how long you have been looking, it is important to show that you are a hard-working employee who has the experience to get the job done. Apply for jobs you actually are qualified for, meaning you don’t over shoot, but at the same time don’t underestimate yourself. Here are a few tips:
- During your unemployment span, it is crucial that you stay relevant. Consider joining professional organizations in your field, not just to network, but also to stay on top of the latest trends in your industry. Consider organizations such as the Business Marketing Organization, National Human Resources Association, National Association of Professional Accountants or the National Association of Professional Women.
- Consider tips given to new grad: keep your experience relevant. I recently saw a resume of a gentleman who was out of work for a two-year span and stated that he spent the two-years as the “Chief Operating Officer” of his household. Now don’t get me wrong, as a working mother who has had the privilege of also spending time at home with my child, I know all too well what a full-time job being a parent and running a household can be. However, to be taken seriously in the workforce, specifically when applying for a mid-senior to senior-level position, you cannot make up job titles. This also applies to applicants considering putting, “Executive Chauffer” to household children or “Professional Exercise Coordinator” for your pet’s care.
- Don’t be afraid to consider new-aged job search methods. Today’s recruiters are looking everyone, not just on online job boards or mailed in resumes. Be sure to have an updated LinkedIn profile and a professional online presence. If you don’t already have a Twitter account consider creating one (with a professional Twitter handle, i.e. name, such as your first and last name) to follow relevant industry groups. This also is a great way to stay on top of industry trends.
At the end of the day, your professionalism and experience are key to landing a great job. I always go with the rule, if I would be embarrassed to show it to my grandma, explain it to my best friend or share it in my annual family holiday card, it’s not worth sharing.