You’ve spent four years or more building your knowledge and perhaps even earned a high GPA. So why aren’t employers clamoring for your services? The problem you and other new graduates face is that hiring managers are more interested in what you can do for them than what you did in school. So use your resume to convince employers that your academic success is transferable to the workplace.
What’s Your Goal?
It’s important for recent grads to provide a targeted objective statement. The objective can be stated in a formal objective section or referenced in a qualifications summary. Whichever approach you choose, avoid flowery or generalized objectives that are too commonly used by new graduates. For example:
Bad: Seeking a challenging position with a progressive company that will offer opportunity for growth and advancement.
Good: Honors graduate of ABC College’s speech communication program seeking a position in training and development. Offer hands-on experience in classroom teaching, corporate training and communication research.
If you have more than one possible career objective, develop variations of your resume, each one targeted to a different goal.
Emphasize Academic Credentials
If your related work history is minimal, place your education before work experience. On Monster’s Resume Builder, use the Career Objective field to mention your educational credentials.
List academic honors such as dean’s list, distinctions such as summa cum laude, scholarships and other awards. As a general guideline, list your GPA if it’s at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If your GPA leaves something to be desired, use your major GPA if it’s higher than your overall GPA.
Consider adding a list of related courses in your education section so hiring managers can see that you have a strong academic foundation.
Highlight Educational Experiences
When reviewing your resume, hiring managers want to understand what type of worker you would be if they hired you. So describe educational experiences such as internships, practicums, class projects and even volunteer activities as if they were paid work experiences.
If you lack work experience related to your goal, include your internships and practicums in your experience section. Give examples of actual assignments, challenges you faced, your contribution, and the results and benefits to the employer.
When describing unrelated jobs, keep the descriptions to a minimum. For example, if you waited tables to help pay for college but your goal is software engineering, you don’t need to provide a description of your day-to-day food service responsibilities. Just include your employer’s name, location, job title and dates. You can briefly include any extra responsibilities you were given as a result of your performance or special recognition (such as Employee of the Month) to help demonstrate your strong work ethic.
Your resume should be optimized for keywords to ensure you are found in an electronic applicant search. Keywords are buzzwords that an employer would use to find a match for a job opening. Job titles, educational credentials, certifications and skills are all possible keywords.
A great way to start considering the right keywords for your occupation is to review job advertisements for your ideal position. Look at the requirements, and if you see certain terms used frequently, they should probably be in your resume.
Pick the Format That Works for You
A traditional chronological resume format, which emphasizes employment history, doesn’t usually work for recent graduates. You will need to highlight your academic foundation, motivation to succeed in your field and the key skills that would help employers achieve their objectives. Many new graduates prefer to use a combination or functional resume to relay their key qualifications.
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