Spring is finally here! Warm weather, flip flops and graduation are all just around the corner. You may be gearing up for summer, but you should also be gearing up for your job search.
For recent grads, putting together a first resume can be a daunting task. Career centers, your parents, friends and the internet all dispense advice on how to present your first post-college resume. Most of the “rules” you’ve been told lead to a boring, cookie-cutter resume that looks exactly like everyone else’s.
To stand out, use these tips on creating a first resume that works for any industry:
Target Your Resume
Most fresh college graduates are under pressure to find a job — any job — quickly. That’s a pretty short-sighted approach, unless you really are open to trying any job.
Instead of whitewashing your skills and experience to apply to any work environment, own the special abilities you’ve gained through your area of study. If you had enough interest in financial accounting to pursue a degree in it, you should highlight the knowledge you gained while receiving that degree, and apply for jobs in financial accounting.
Using keywords found in the job descriptions, put your most relevant skills first and make sure your prospective employer knows that you’re applying for this job, not just any job.
Highlight Transferable Skills
If you don’t want to look for a job in your field of study, this is the time to take what you’ve learned and relate it to the jobs that you are interested in.
Chances are good that most of what you learned while getting your degree in physics can somehow be applied to your dream job in marketing. You just need a bit of outside-the-box thinking. Identify a few skills that are applicable to the job you want and see which you already have.
If you want skills that you don’t yet have, think about some ways to work on them. You may be able to take a summer class or weekend seminar to quickly learn a talent and add it to your resume.
Don’t forget about soft skills, either. You could be the most qualified candidate, but not get the job because your communication or leadership skills are lacking.
Of course, you can’t simply list these skills on your resume and expect the interviewer to take your word for it. Skills like communication you can demonstrate during the interview, but those like leadership will be a little harder. The best way to prove your skills is to show them – if not in person, then through an example. Make it a story, like in this example that shows the candidate’s leadership experience. If you pay close attention, you can see the STAR method in action. They explain the situation and the task they were faced, followed by how they worked to reach the result.
To take your examples a step further, add in a last step: Reflection. Discuss what you learned from the experience, what you did well or you’d do differently.
Infuse Your Personality
Your resume should say something about who you are. For every entry-level position, hiring managers are looking at stacks of resumes from fresh college graduates just like you.
Make sure you stand out from the pack by injecting a dose of your personality into your resume. These days, company culture is just as important as your skills and experience. Show that you’re a great fit by including a little personal information on your resume.
What are some things you like to do in your free time? What are your passions? If you express yourself in a way that’s different from other candidates, you’ll stand out. A resume that highlights your unique skills and accomplishments is crucial to getting noticed — if you find you can’t express your personality well enough, ask for help from those who know you best or connect with professionals skilled enough to do it for you.
Landing that first job after college can feel like an uphill battle. It seems like everyone out there is a shining star just like you. With these tips, your resume will shine even brighter.