You are graduating…right into a job hunt. To get started on the right foot, you need to begin the resume writing process. How do you begin?
The best advice is to start with a resume template. These can be downloaded for free. No need to buy resume software which can limit you to its own format(s) and requires access to its software to be updated. It’s much easier to download a template that is yours to modify, store, and update. Remember to download your template on two flash drives so you always have a back up. One place you can look for resume templates is Quickstart Resume Templates, which has formats tailored to over 30 majors.
Once you have a template, look at the basic parts of the resume:
- Contact information
- Personal objective
- Summary statement,
- Degree, GPA, and graduation date,
- Course work,
- Job experience,
Now start to fill in the basics. Basics include contact information, degree, and graduation date. But, at this point, do not look at a sample resume. It can be intimidating.
After the basics, it’s time to write the most important part of the resume – the personal objective. This is your focus and also tells a potential employer you know what you’re looking for. It includes the type of job you want (accountant, reporter); the field or industry you want to enter (banking, insurance); and the location you want to be in (East Coast, Portland area).
- Staff accountant in banking in the Portland area
- Reporter for news daily, willing to relocate
Another area you need to think about and capture well and precisely is the summary part which comes after the objective. This must capture you and usually covers what you’ve done, what you have experienced, your accomplishments, and your skills. This is how you standout or separate yourself from the average person. It should be written in 3 to 4 concise phrases bullet-pointed.
- Two years accounting and auditing experience
- Internship with Ernst and Young in New York City
- Accounting BS, magna cum laude
- Proficient with MS Office, Windows XP
The rest is your filling in the bullet points for the other sections of the resume. You really need to brainstorm to cover as much as you can. Ask friends and parents, too, to help you remember or distinguish things you have done. What have you done that makes you stand out? Are you youngest hired, a top award winner, part of a championship team, a recognized volunteer?
Other things to think about:
GPA – Should you include your GPA? The answer is no if it is not 3.0 or above. If you do not have a GPA of 3.0 or better, and if your major GPA is 3.0 and up, include that. If your major GPA is .3 higher than your GPA, include both. If neither is a 3.0, do not include your GPA, but be prepared to explain why you have not met a minimum grade.
Buzzwords – Use your industry/field buzzwords. You should be conversant with the words in your field. If not, buy a trade magazine or become a member of your trade association and get to know the lingo. Attempt to use these words throughout your resume, without overdoing. A prospective employer wants to know you know what you’re talking about. Also, if your resume is online, searches are done though key words so you’ll be more accessible.
No-nos – Never lie or inflate. There can be screeners who will filter your resume. If you have been found to inflate or lie, you are immediately disqualified, and word travels. It’s a blackball situation; stay away from it.
Proofreading is necessary:
You can not distribute a resume that has any typos or mistakes. Here is are ways to go about proofing your resume for perfection.
- Read it aloud at least three times. Reading aloud will make it easier for you to pick up your mistakes and find places that may not be well-worded or clear.
- Now have someone working in the field you are applying to proof your resume for content and for terminology.
- Next have a small group of people with different perspectives: employer, teacher, friend, etc. give your resume the 15 second test. Give them each a copy of your resume, let them read it for 15 seconds, then stop them and ask what they remember. If they don’t remember much or remember things that you feel are of secondary importance, it’s back to the drawing board.
- Make a final pass for perfection by using professionals from a service like ResumeEdge.
Make sure you follow resume protocols:
- One page only
- Times Roman font, 12 pt
- No more than two different fonts or sized fonts
- 81/2″ X 11″ quality bond paper
Finally you need to continually update your resume. You may start writing your resume in April, but you’ll be surprised that by the time you graduate in May what has changed or what you can add.
Now you can look at that sample resume. And, hope yours compares.