4 winning resume tips for recent graduatesAugust 01, 2016 by William Frierson
You don’t like getting spam, do you? Well, neither do hiring managers. It may be quick and efficient to upload your resume on popular job sites and send employers the same robo-resume, but hiring managers view these generic, mass mailings as spam. They can spot one-size-fits-all resumes in a nano-second and quickly discard them.
Here are four tips from hiring managers featured in the book, Graduate to a Great Career, on how to create a winning resume:
1. Add a short profile statement and your key selling points at the top “above the fold”
Realize your resume is an ad for branding yourself. Like a newspaper, an ad, or web page, the most important “real estate” is in the top half of your resume. Branding resumes begin with a profile or qualifications statement, a couple of crisp sentences that define your value. A strong profile statement is critical for recent graduates. You don’t have an impressive job title and career history yet, so you’ll need to specify your career focus and value proposition in your profile statement. In fact, many hiring managers told me a big problem with new graduate resumes is it can be hard to determine what entry-level job the new grad is looking for, especially if the grad doesn’t have a career-specific major like accounting or computer science. A profile headline like “Seeking an entry-level positioning” is too generic and doesn’t convey your career path. Remember, it’s your job to convey your career identity, not the hiring manager’s. For example, a recent grad named Erin who was a psychology major pursuing a career in marketing began her profile with the headline, “Aspiring marketing assistant: Psychology grad with pulse on the consumer mindset,” followed by a few bullets outlining her focus, strengths, and marketing credentials through two internships.
2. Expand your skill set to take advantage of new market opportunities
Be willing to take advantage of where the momentum is in the marketplace. During her job search for marketing jobs, Erin, our aspiring marketer mentioned above, noticed big retailers were advertising entry-level jobs and internships in merchandising, an area related to marketing that involves selecting products and evaluating sales performance. She decided to expand her job search and pursue both career paths: merchandising and marketing. Because there were a lot of merchandising internships online, she snagged a three-month, part-time internship at a large global retailer. But Erin needed a different elevator pitch and resume to apply for full-time merchandising jobs, and now with her internship, she had a story to tell. She had a hands-on role in compiling trend and competitive analysis reports, which gave her specific marketable skills. Here is Erin’s new profile statement for her merchandising resume, “Merchandising assistant with strong analytic, merchandising, and marketing skills.” She included new skills such as “completed Excel reports for accurate demand forecasting that resulted in a 10% improvement in accurate buying.” Before long, Erin was offered a merchandising job at a top global retailer.
3. Play to keywords and how the resume robots screen resumes.
The first “person” your resume has to impress is not likely to be a human being but a computer. Due to the volume of resumes that large and medium-sized companies receive, most companies use ATS (applicant tracking systems). Most ATS’s are not kind to new grads since they are programmed to check for a strong keyword match. Since most recent grads have limited experience, they don’t score high on an ATS (Only 25% of resumes make it past the resume robots). If you do have a strong skills match with a job posting, take the time to use the same exact words in your resume so the resume robots pick them out. Your resume can also be discarded if you format it incorrectly. Keep the layout simple with commonly used section titles like profile, work experience, education, etc.
4. Emphasize skills, experience, and results in the “Action + Numbers = Results” format.
Employers now give twice as much importance to specific skills and work experience as academic courses and grades. How do you make your abilities and skills stand out when you’re a new grad with limited work experience? It might take more effort than for an experienced job seeker, but you have more experience and accomplishments than you realize. Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished in internships, school projects, volunteer activities, part-time jobs, and the like. Then, follow this formula to create a powerful results bullet:
Action + Numbers = Results
Did [A] + as measured by [N] = with these results [R]
Here are a few examples of how college students and recent grads have created marketable results bullets out of internships and part-time jobs:
• Raised $55,000 in first month calling alumni for university capital
campaign; the top student performer all four weeks.
• As a brand ambassador interning at X Company, challenged to increase
website traffic, wrote ten blog posts that generated over 240 responses,
and helped boost sales.
• Prepared detailed Excel reports and pitches for business development
group at fast-growing technology company that
increased response rate by 15%.
The key to a successful resume and job search is to go for quality over quantity. You need to invest a little more time to create a resume that is right for each job, but it will pay off. Your efforts will be rewarded, and you’ll be on your way to an interview in no time.
Catherine Kaputa is a Personal Brand Strategist, Speaker, and Author of the newly-released book, Graduate to a Great Career: How Smart Students, New Graduates, and Young Professionals Can Launch Brand You. (April 2016. graduatetoagreatcareer.com). She is the author of two best-selling books, You Are a Brand and Breakthrough Branding for entrepreneurs. She is the Founder of SelfBrand (selfbrand.com). Speaking clients include Google, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Intel, Citi, Merck, Northwestern University, New York University, and University of Illinois.
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