It’s easy to think that once you’ve graduated from college, all of the hard work is over and done with. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
A good degree will help you to find employment – but so will a well-written resume. And if you’re willing to invest years of your life into gaining a qualification, it makes sense to spend a couple of hours making sure that your resume is up to scratch.
Remember that employers receive 39 applications for every graduate job and that most graduate job applications don’t even receive a response. Your resume will need to stand out if you want to be called in for an interview.
Here are ten rules to follow to make your resume the best it can possibly be.
1. Keep it brief
We can’t stress this one enough. Recruiters are busy people, and they often have stressful jobs. If you overwhelm them with irrelevant information, your resume will be the first to go into the slush pile. Instead, see it as a challenge – an opportunity to cut out as much as possible. Get a friend to look over it for you and to cross out anything that they think is irrelevant.
2. Tailor it
Many recent graduates make the mistake of using the same resume for every job application and only changing the cover letter. Unfortunately, many recruiters don’t even look at the cover letter – remember, they’re busy people with dozens of resumes to go through. Instead of using the same resume, tailor it for each submission so that it explains why you’re right for the job that’s on offer.
3. Be yourself
No one wants to hire a robot. While it’s important to stay professional throughout your resume, that doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to sprinkle in a little bit of personality. This is easier said than done when you’re trying to keep things short, but there’s plenty of room for a short introduction – or perhaps even a picture.
4. Explain your ambitions
Recent graduates are renowned for their ambition, and that’s why many companies prefer to hire them. What they lack in experience, they make up through their ability to jump from situation to situation, getting stuck in wherever they’re needed. Because of that, while companies are hiring someone to fit a specific position, it’s still a good idea to make it clear where you hope it will lead and what you want to achieve with your career.
5. Showcase results
Be descriptive when it comes to what you achieved through work experience, volunteering, and part-time jobs. Instead of simply saying that you worked in a burger van, for example, show what you actually achieved – such as selling 2,000 burgers over a long weekend and bringing in $10,000 of revenue. Likewise, instead of just saying that you volunteered for a local charity, explain how much you raised and what the money will be used for.
6. Think of new formats
Some people have found success by delivering their resumes in innovative formats, such as by turning them into chocolate bars and hand-held fans. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it can be a great way to get yourself noticed. If you want to be a web designer, for example, then create your portfolio as a website. If you’re trying to get hired as a pastry chef, send your application with an accompanying cake. The possibilities are almost endless.
7. Cut the references
Don’t waste space with a list of references – or by stating that “references are available upon request.” Remember that you’re trying to make as much of an impact as possible. If an employer wants a reference – which is unlikely for entry-level graduate roles – then they’ll ask for one. In the meantime, pull it from your resume and use the space for something more important.
8. Add a link
Make it easy for a potential employer to check out your website, your portfolio or your LinkedIn profile by including relevant links within your resume. Of course, we’re not saying you should link to everything that’s out there – in fact, it’s usually best to include just one link to a repository where they can find everything that they’re likely to need.
9. List multiple ways to contact you
Different recruiters prefer to deal with candidates in different ways. Some will pick up the phone to give you a call, some will send correspondence through the mail and some will prefer to talk via email. List as many relevant options as you can so that recruiters can get in touch via their preferred method of communication.
Perfecting your resume is just the first step of the job seekers’ journey. Once you start to send it out to people, keep a list of who you’ve sent it to and drop them a line to follow up if you don’t hear anything back. You can also ask recruiters for their feedback on your CV. While you won’t always get a response, some are more than happy to help young job seekers by offering them advice. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!