Posted April 01, 2014 by

How Graduates Can Use Resumes and LinkedIn to Overcome Inexperience

Brian Stewart

Brian Stewart, Career Content Writer at ResumeTarget.com

If you’ve just graduated from university or college and are looking for a job in your desired career path, chances are you’ve haven’t been having an easy time of it. When facing such difficulty getting the jobs you want, it’s of the utmost importance that you put your best foot forward for every step of the job hunting process. As is often the case, the first step is arguably the most important of all.

That means building a great resume, and optimizing your LinkedIn profile.

Focus your resume on your education

Part of the problem is that it seems like companies are looking for at least a few years’ experience even for entry level positions, but as a graduate you’re not likely to have any that’s relevant. So how can you get hiring managers excited about you when all you can include are unrelated, part-time jobs you had through university and whatever education achievements you had along the way? By writing a resume that gives great detail on your university or college education, especially your achievements, rather than work experience.

So rather than making “employment history” the main section of your resume, use something like “education history” or “academic achievements” instead. In this section you list the courses, accomplishments/awards, and projects that are relevant to the job you’re seeking. Any volunteer work, internships, or job experience related to your desired career should also be included.

One little tip as to how you can really cater to the hiring manager is to do some research. First, carefully examine the language used in the job ad. If they seem to stress the importance of some kind of skill or aptitude, be sure to have that front and center on your resume. Make sure each entry is still short and succinct, but you should focus the most on how to convey how you have the skills they’re looking for.

LinkedIn is perfect for graduates

Let me get the most important thing about LinkedIn out of the way: it’s not a resume, and should not be treated as a resume. The most important distinction to make is that resumes are used for when you seek out jobs and apply to them, but LinkedIn is more about making yourself searchable for recruiters so they find you. 97% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for jobs, and 64% use it exclusively.  That’s not to say that you can’t use it to seek out jobs yourself, but the important goal you should have in building a profile is to make it appealing to any employer that might find you through LinkedIn.

First, that means making your profile easy to find. So for your headline, include two or three of the main keywords and job titles for which you’re qualified and will be seeking employment. That way, when recruiters and employers search for profiles using those keywords you’re more likely to show up in the results page.

Second, for the Summary section you should be engaging and personable while conveying your character, attitude, and values. You can be more informal on LinkedIn than you should be on your resume, so using 1st person pronouns like “I” is not only acceptable but encouraged. But remember to be professional! It might be a social media platform, but you’re trying to showcase your professional style not what it’s like to hang out with you.

Lastly, it’s time to push your skills as you did on your resume. Since it’s an online resource you can link to any portfolios, blogs, projects, documents, or personal websites that showcases the skills that are relevant to the jobs you’re seeking. You can also afford to elaborate a bit more on your skills in general, and also how they’re applicable in practical workplace settings. Take care not to go on too much, however. Being concise is still as important on LinkedIn as it is on your resume.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Throughout your job search, it’s important not to get discouraged. If you’re willing to put the time and effort into creating a good, professional looking resume and LinkedIn profile then you’ll already be a step ahead of the competition!

Brian Stewart is a Career Content Writer at ResumeTarget.com, a professional resume writing company for clients of all career levels across North America. They are the only resume writing company that offers a professionally written resume, coupled with the guidance of recruiters, to guarantee that your resume will get results. Tweet them with any resume question you have at Twitter.com/ResumeTarget.

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