You’ve received your diploma and entered the job market, but as a recent grad, you may not be seeing the fruits of your labor resulting in a job offer. Recent college graduates often have trouble creating compelling resumes due to a lack of work experience (also, due to a lack of know-how, but a resume builder can help with that). But don’t fret. There are ways to reorganize your resume that will highlight the skills you possess while placing less emphasis on the fact that you haven’t had many jobs.
Choosing a Resume Format
While a chronological resume—one that lists your work experience in order, by date—is the most common format for jobseekers, it might not be the right choice for a recent graduate. Recent grads will want to showcases the hard and soft skills they’ve acquired in college or high school, or through their (most likely) limited work experience.
To that end, consider kicking off with a functional or combination (also called a hybrid) resume over a chronological one. Here’s more about each of those formats:
When considering how to write a resume, recent grads might want to consider a functional resume. When you are new to the job market or have gaps in your work history, a functional resume can help you emphasize all the skills and technical know-how you’ve attained without broadcasting that your work experience is limited. A functional resume allows younger and older workers to accentuate their soft skills and potential rather than the length of time they’ve been in the workforce.
The combination, or hybrid, resume also works well for recent graduates, especially those with some work experience, because it incorporates attributes of the chronological and functional formats. For example, you might begin with Skills and Achievements, and end with your Work History section.
6 Tips for Success
Once you’ve chosen your format, use the following tips to give your resume the most impact:
- Keep it to one page. Recent graduates should keep their resumes short but sweet. If you have little to no work experience, a one-page resume is definitely all you’ll need. Only workers with 10 or more years of work experience should consider writing a longer resume (i.e., a two-page resume).
- Demonstrate your applicable hard skills. Write about the technical skills you learned in school. List computer programs you are trained to use, leadership skills you have developed, and other experiences you had in college, especially ones that could be considered applicable to the job you’re applying for.
- Showcase your soft skills. Soft skills are the non-technical skills that help employers to understand what you will bring to the table. High school and college activities and experiences are great environments for developing soft skills. Focus on highlighting those, as research shows that applicants that list skills such as “strong communication skills” are more likely to get a job than those who don’t.
- Quantify your achievements. Even without work experience, you’ve accomplished a lot. Look back at your time in school, on sports teams, and in volunteer positions, and cull quantifiable accomplishments from those experiences. Were you elected student body president? Did you run a club or student organization of some sort? Mention it—both show leadership skills. Did you raise the most money during the years you ran your church bake sale? Show the year-over-year revenue increase under your tutelage. In short, don’t just tell hiring managers about your achievements; include numbers wherever possible to show them what you’ve accomplished.
- Convey your knowledge of the industry. Everyone has to start somewhere and just because you don’t have direct work experience in the field you are applying doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified for an entry-level position. If you were a marketing major who is applying for a Marketing Coordinator position, for example, you are entering the workforce with acquired knowledge. Demonstrate that on your resume by mentioning courses you’ve taken and principles you’ve learned in your studies. If you’re unsure about industry-specific content to focus on when writing your resume, perusing resume examples can hopefully help you out.
- Proofread your resume. Nothing will turn off a recruiter quicker than typos and grammatical errors in a resume. Copy edit your resume yourself, then send it to a trusted friend. A second—or even third—set of eyes is always necessary to make sure your resume is free of errors.