Resume Help for Recent Graduates
Are you a recent graduate wondering how to make your resume appealing and competitive? Here are some suggestions on how to articulate your recent academic achievements for the job market and meet the requirements of your potential employers.
1. Read several target job descriptions carefully to get the idea of the key skills applicants in your field are expected to have.
- Read the target job description with a highlighter or a pen.
- Mark the key requirements and note the word choice and the sequence in which they appear.
- Think about your recent academic or work experience that matches those skills.
- Show your potential employer that you took the time to understand what they need by phrasing your achievements accordingly.
2. Prioritize high-value content and white space. Avoid graphics.
Hiring managers and recruiters are busy and have just a few minutes, if not seconds, to scan resumes. As a recent graduate, you need an effective one-page resume with a clear career summary and a list of measurable results. Graphics are unnecessary as they distract your reader from the essential – your skills.
When drafting your achievements, think about the requirements of your potential employers. Phrase the work you did academically or professionally while studying in a way that connects directly to their requirements.
3. Understand the structure of the contemporary resume.
Make sure your contact information is accurate and appears in the header and footer on each page.
Draft an effective career summary – the description of your key qualifications and soft skills at the top of your resume. While hard skills can be taught, hiring professionals know that personality traits cannot be easily changed. Tell your employers what important personal skills you bring to the table.
If technical or lab skills are crucial in your field (i.e. forensic science, life sciences, computer science, etc.), fill your Areas of Expertise section with a list of core skills. You can place them in three columns (bullet points) or a block of text using a symbol of your choice to separate the phrases.
List awards, scholarships, GPA, travel grants, and your research projects in the Education section at the top of your resume immediately after Areas of Expertise.
Make job entries short and focused on measurable results.
List your publications and volunteer experience at the end of the resume.
When phrasing your achievements, mention groups of people you collaborated with and the praise you received from your supervisors.
Here are some examples of achievements from recent graduate resumes. Note how these phrases highlight leadership skills, research initiatives, and technical proficiencies:
- Recognized by the department staff and the supervisors for leadership skills and the initiative in taking on new tasks.
- Improved customer service and employee retention by training 120 student workers on safety policies and food service operations.
- In recognition of excellent academic standing and community-wide significance of the research project on [insert brief project details], awarded a highly competitive fellowship [insert full title of the fellowship] to present research findings in a collaborative, interdisciplinary setting.
- Praised by the supervisor for building data analysis proficiency quickly and using SAS, SQL, and R effectively.
4. Consider investing in a professionally written resume.
Research in recruitment estimates an average length of a job search as 6-10 months, depending on the industry. A professionally written resume is a small investment compared to the value it delivers. It is your ticket to the job interviews you want and remains an editable document you can update with ease as your work history evolves.
About the author:
Tanya Mykhaylychenko provides resume writing and career strategy services. Connect with her on LinkedIn for networking tips and ideas on career development.