This week is on professional development. Raise your hand if you need a resume review! All of you should be raising your hands. It is always good to be constantly learning, growing, and getting feedback.
That being said, for my three years in college I was a Peer Career Advisor at CU Boulder, and I was heavily involved in reading hundreds of undergraduate resumes across all industries and sectors, all grade levels, and all levels of experience from a new doe-eyed freshman to non-traditional students who are returning for a second round at school. Additionally, my six college internships and applying to 50+ jobs to land the dream job definitely gave me experience in learning what recruiters are looking for in young professionals.
So, where do you start? Resumes are an incredibly daunting and personal thing. You’re basically taking your entire life story and summing it up on one page with your hopes, dreams, talents, and ambitions all laid out raw for a stranger to judge. Yikes.
But don’t fear, I’ve got you! Below are the Top 10 Resume Tips for Recent Grads that will give you a nudge in the right direction. Comment your favorite tip below at the end of this!
Tip #1: One Page Only, Please!
Undergraduate resumes need to be one page. Not front and back….just. One. Single. Page. I know for some of you that seems impossible, but trust me--one page is all you need. I’ve heard from mentors that for every 5 years of experience you gain after college, you can start to have over a page. But as a college student or recent grad, keep in mind that an employer is only going to spend about 6-30 seconds looking at your resume, so it needs to be as scannable and succinct as possible.
Tip #2: Tailored and Talented
Every resume and cover letter that you submit to each job or internship NEEDS to be tailored to the specific position. Do not just submit a generic resume to tons of jobs. Be mindful, read the job description, and utilize it to craft keywords and ideas from the posting. Then, tailor the job assets to make you the perfect fit for the position. No one likes cold calls, no one likes cold resumes! We all want to feel like things are personally crafted for our eyes only.
Tip #3: Kick-Ass Keywords
Along with tailoring, pick specific keywords from the job description and position that really highlight your skills and experiences. Refine the verbiage you choose to use. Anyone can say “worked at” or “responsible for,” but spice it up people! Use action words to start off a killer sentence. “Implemented 90% customer satisfaction through attention to detail, personalized customer service, and transparency” sounds way better than “Responsible for interacting with customers.”
Tip #4: Quality Quantifiables
Keywords are great, but don’t negate to add quantifiables throughout your resume experiences as well. Employers want to know tangible numbers, even if they’re approximate. This is important for ALL majors and industries, not just STEM folks. For example, list the hours or days worked, number of people worked with, percentage increases, approximate customers attended to, etc.
Tip #5: Resulting In….Hired?
Anyone can list tasks, but no one cares about these. Employers care about the RESULTS gained from experiences. Experiences are only as valuable as the lessons learned. When discussing experiences on your resume, make sure to explain what they resulted in. Results can either be those quantifiable numbers we discussed above or they can be the soft skills gained from the experience. Quick run-down: soft skills are things like people skills, organization, collaboration, etc. Hard skills are tangible such as computer skills, programming, instruments, or language skills.
Tip #6: LinkedIn Love
Just because you have a rockstar resume doesn’t mean you should quit there. In a digital age, we all need to have a digital presence. LinkedIn is the fastest growing professional networking website, and it’s a great place to host your resume and more. Include your LinkedIn URL on your contact information section. Need help with LinkedIn? DM me, we’ll talk.
Tip #7: Objectives vs. Cover Letters: the Great Debate
Some employers will tell you they want an objective statement at the top, which I agree with only if you’re changing industries or seeking something incredibly specific that you need to get across in the resume. Majority of the time though, instead of writing a generic objective statement that takes up valuable space for experience, write a supplemental cover letter. Cover letters are 3-4 paragraphs showcasing your personality, strengths, and your connections/knowledge of the company. Not sure how to write one? Again, shoot me a message.
Tip #8: Add in Professional Associations
Just because you’re a student or recent grad doesn’t mean that you can’t get that professional game on. Many industries offer student associations or young professional members to their organizations. Not only can these teach you valuable skills and give you the chance to network, but they look AMAZING on your resume. Personally, I was heavily involved in the Public Relations Student Society of America, and I’m still involved with them as a full-time professional post-college!
Tip #9: Color Me Qualified
Color is a risky business on a resume. Do it right, you’ll be seen as a creative, unique candidate. Do it wrong, all you’ll be seeing is the trash. My advice, if you are in a creative field (communications, design, marketing, art, film, liberal arts, etc.) then a splash of color and tasteful design is a good thing. If you are a STEM major or business major, stick to the black-and-white type, 12 point font, Times New Roman vibes to get to the point.
Tip #10: Visit Your Local Career Services Center
College students and recent grads, be aware that you have a GREAT resource at your fingertips that most adults don’t have access to later in life. Utilize your college’s local career services center. If it wasn’t for CU Boulder Career Services or the internship coordinator at my program of the College of Media, Communication, and Information...I wouldn’t know the half of it! These are designated professionals who can help you to reach your career goals, do not be afraid to reach out to them. They have access to tons of great resources that they can provide for you!
Well, there you have it, time to get to resume writing! You got this rockstar, and if you don’t, please feel free to reach out and I’m more than happy to help you craft one.
Until next time, XOXO,