Put your strongest credentials near the top of your resume. Whether it is coursework, projects, volunteering, GPA or strong “soft skills” lead with what you are best at. Keep tweaking your resume until it generates some –callbacks (phone screens), so you can tell your story in more detail.
— Jeff Dunn, Campus Relations Manager, Intel Corporation
My advice would be a bad paraphrase of JFK:
Ask not what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company. Too many graduates forget to fully tailor their application approach in a bespoke way for the company they are applying for, and also tend to major on how the job/internship will benefit them rather than what value they will add to the organization. Focus on what you’ll bring and why you particularly want to work for that exact company.
— Martin Edmondson, CEO, Gradcore
My one piece of advice is that ALL work experience counts. Don’t hold out for your dream internship or even your dream entry-level job. You will switch jobs, positions, and careers many times throughout your lifetime. Nike says, “just do it.” I say, “just start somewhere.” Each experience matters and each experience helps you build skills.
— Vicky Oliver, author, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005) and author Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks, 2008)
In my role as a digital marketer, I would advise students or recent graduate to fully explore every career-related channel a company has to offer. To make an educated and career decision, it is important to understand how a company works and values its employers inside and outside the workplace.
— Lorenz V. Esposito, Digital Marketing Specialist, Potentialpark
Make it count. By that I mean, get all you can out of the experience.
- Where possible, seek out a job that taps into something you’re curious about. Interested in drones? Check out what jobs are involved in drone pilot training. Spend hours on YouTube? Look into jobs at a local video production company. Planning to be an entrepreneur? Look for small business owners locally who need some end of year or seasonal help so you can see up close what it’s like to run a business.
- Think about what you want to get out of the experience. Are there skills you want to learn? People you want to talk to? Types of work you want to try? Craft this ahead of time, and add to it while at your job so you’re learning about what fits you every step of the way. It’ll make bigger decisions down the line far easier.
- Make the most of the jobs you hate. Ideally, these will be short-lived, but spending time getting clear on WHAT you hate about the work, the environment, the management style, the commute, the industry and so on helps you avoid more of this later on. I’ve learned far more from these jobs than I did from most of the others.
— Pam Baker, CEO, Journeous
Skip the entry-level jobs. They waste your time because the pay is low, people don’t respect entry-level employees, and the jobs take a long time to get because there are so many people with no experience and it’s difficult for hiring managers to figure out who to hire when no one is particularly qualified.
Look at the jobs that require 3 – 5 years of experience. Find a job that is in the location you are now that you’d like to have in a couple of years. Make a list of all the experience the job requires that you do not have. Hire a professional resume writer to see if they can spin your current — probably random and temporary — experience into the experience employers are looking for.
Here’s are some examples from real people who have hired me to make their resume look like they are beyond entry-level:
I changed this: Collected emails from the staff and put them into the support email folder so everyone could access client information.
To this: Reorganized customer service systems to streamline inter-departmental cooperation and decrease customer service wait time.
Both bullets describe the boring and low-level task of data entry for client emails. But the rewritten bullet uses the language of someone who has worked in business and understands how to impact the bottom line. Additionally, the second bullet looks at the work from a high-level which implies that the person doing the work was at a higher level.
A smart resume writer can do this with all your experience to make your resume read like you have much more experience than you do.
After you have a new resume, you will see yourself differently. You’ll start to believe that you ARE actually qualified for higher-level positions. Then you’re ready for the next step.
Make a list of the qualifications an employer lists for the job you want. Pull out any qualifications you don’t have. You can get that experience right now, this week, before you start applying for jobs. Make the most recent job on your resume freelancing. And make the dates the last few years. Because we are all freelancers. We all help other people talk through ideas for a wide range of things. That’s what friends do.
As a freelancer, you can say you did anything. Because you can choose to do anything. You don’t have to get paid. A resume is about what you’ve done. Not about who paid and who didn’t. So, for example, if you want to get a job that requires have done a social media campaign, do one, for any company, and write a bullet about it. If you need experience giving presentations, give one to your friend and then write a bullet about it.
When you’re in the interview, you can talk about whatever you did. You don’t need to say you did it for free. You don’t need to confess that no one cared at all about what you did. Because really, if everyone confessed how stupid their bullets were, and how fake their job duties were, then no one in the world would be able to write a resume. But that’s for another discussion!
— Penelope Trunk, CEO, Quistic
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