Recently I read a comment on a blog post that said something like this:
“I’ve been out of work for 7 months. I am applying for jobs that I’m well-qualified for. I’m not having any luck on LinkedIn either. I can’t even get an interview.”
I can’t help but think that a lot of similarities exist between the commenter and many of my fellow recent graduates; this is a position many of us have been in during the last 5 years. A glance at unemployment statistics shows the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is significantly higher than the normal unemployment rate.
Because I was successful in landing a job during my last semester of college, I began to wonder why so many were having issues… and how I could help.
These are people who had essentially the same education and experience level as me. As I thought more about this I realized that when I first applied for jobs, I didn’t get many interviews either. Then I remembered all of the hours I spent perfecting my resume, and how my success at landing interviews increased the more refining I did.
Now, I pretty much get an interview any time I submit my resume.
I shared this information with some of my friends and I am proud to say that they have improved their resumes and are now getting interviews regularly (a few of them have even landed jobs). So I thought it would be worthwhile to share a few of my favorite resume tips. Here they are:
Target Your Resume
The number one problem I see with recent graduate resumes is that they aren’t targeted.
Most recent graduates have a tendency to list all of the skills they acquired while in school. While it’s great you acquired those skills, how many of them actually apply to the job you are applying for? When employers are reviewing resumes, they’re usually thinking about who can do the job they are hiring for; they are not looking for someone who can move around to different jobs within the company.
I recommend having a base generic resume and making changes to it to match the description of the job you are applying for.
Sending a generic resume is a total waste of time!
Start With A Summary
I like to have a summary at the beginning of my resume; a summary that shows passion for your industry.
We simply must give the recruiter a reason to keep reading! Make your summary something unique. It is also important to highlight the skills you possess that the employer values most, as shown in the job description. Here is a sample of what I am talking about, and a highly effective personal summary:
“Highly-motivated, self-driven data fanatic skilled in SQL and report generation. Knowledgeable about relational database and data visualization with specific experience in MicroStrategy, Tableau, and Excel PowerPivot. Loves to learn new technology, form relationships, and solve problems. Great experience in management, leadership, motivation, and a quick learner.”
I started the summary off with some passion. Next, I mentioned specific skills that I have that relate to the job. The last piece of the summary lists some “intangibles” that I possess that may set me apart from other people with similar skills.
This summary gets interviews… you need a summary that gets interviews!
Your Best Shot
As a recruiter continues to scan down your resume, your goal is to keep them engaged. Following your summary, the next section should be the thing you are most proud of… the thing that is most impressive about you.
For me, and most recent graduates without a ton of experience, this is often Education. I like to list my major, my emphasis, and any classes that I have taken which have a direct benefit to the job for which I am applying. Once I have been out in the workforce for a while, I imagine this section will change to either Experience or Skills & Abilities.
Quantify Your Experience
This is a pretty common resume mistake… and one those career experts I trust most talk about often.
Sometimes it’s hard for recent graduates to put their experience into numbers such as “Implemented X which saved the company Y”. Hopefully, you have had some sort of internship or work experience which will allow you to do this. If not, it is still possible to quantify your school experience. Recruiters love hard numbers much more than ambiguity.
For example, instead of saying “I took a class about project management” you can say “Spent 35 hours learning and implementing project management methodologies.” It may not sound like a huge difference to you, but it will go a long way towards keeping the recruiter engaged.
Last, but not least, be honest with everything you put on your resume. If you are lucky enough to land an interview, any resume lies will be discovered. It is much easier to get a job having a bit less experience than to get one after having lied on your resume.
I am a firm believer that if you put the time in to make your resume sparkle, and continue to refine based on what you learn about what works and what doesn’t in the job search, it will set you apart from other candidates. This is what I learned. This is what got me interviews. I hope it helps your job search, too.
What are some of your favorite resume tips? Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Great Resumes Fast!
About the Author: Nick is a recent college graduate trying to find his way in the crazy corporate world. He is the owner of A Young Pro, a blog aimed at helping Millennials succeed in life, personal finance, and their careers. He is a happy husband, and a proud father. You can connect with Nick on Google+ or Twitter.