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Perfecting Your Resume: The Ultimate Resume Guide For College Students And Recent Graduates

As a college student or recent grad, the anticipation of your imminent job search can be a source of anxiety. If you’re on the lookout for job opportunities that can help you build your career, your first undertaking is writing a killer resume.

Students and recent graduates often relate to feeling pressure to stand out in a competitive job market with limited work experience. However, with a strong resume and enough preparation, you can navigate your job search and secure a job in your industry!

Before we dive into what elevates your resume from good to great, let’s take a look at the fundamentals of resume writing.

Resume Writing 101: What Should I Include?

Contact information. Include your name, address, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile URL towards the top of your resume.

Showcase education. As a student or recent grad, education is a key section of your resume. Include the name of the school(s) you’ve attended, graduation date, major or minor, and GPA (only if you have a strong GPA, typically 3.0 or higher). You can also include relevant coursework if your education is multidisciplinary.

Relevant experience. This is your opportunity to showcase your earned accomplishments and the transferable skills you offer a potential employer. For the most effective resume, think about how your experience is applicable to the position you’re applying to. You can include any type of applicable experience: paid or unpaid work, internships, volunteer, or leadership.

Skills and certifications. Categorize the relevant skills and certifications in your arsenal. You should list skills that you’re comfortable performing and any specialized proficiencies, such as software, technical abilities, or industry-specific skills.

Tips for Crafting Your Resume

Now that you have the basic outline for your resume, it’s time to perfect your document.

Here are some tips to help you draft a resume impress potential employers:

Emphasize results

Rather than focusing on surface level responsibilities, detail your experiences by highlighting the measurable results of your involvement. Emphasizing results offers potential employers insight into the tangible impact directly stemming from your contributions. Quantifying your accomplishments can also be a powerful tool in differentiating yourself from other candidates and appealing to a hiring manager.

To effectively position your contributions and impact, consider:

  • What did you do? What were your responsibilities? 
  • How did you do it? What skills, tools, or procedures did you incorporate?  
  • How can you emphasize your impact with details? Is it quantifiable? What was the purpose?
  • What did you accomplish? How did your actions impact other areas? 

Tailor your resume to the position

Using specific keywords and qualifications from the job posting in your resume can help boost your chances of landing an interview. During the initial qualifying stage, hiring managers typically spend 30 seconds to 1 minute reviewing candidates’ resumes. Incorporating keywords associated with the position makes it easy for potential employers to see you as an appropriate fit for the role. Many companies also use screening software to review candidates’ resumes. Similarly, including relevant words from the job posting can increase your chances to advance to the next stage of the application process.

Proofread, edit, repeat.

Thoroughly proofreading your resume for grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors is an important step of crafting a comprehensive, well-executed resume.  Submitting an application riddled with typos signals a lack of attention to detail to potential employers. To avoid this, you can always ask friends, family, or counselors to review your resume.

Regardless of your previous work experience, by following these tips, you can create a resume that will help you stand out from the competition. With a strong resume, you’re one step closer to landing your dream job and well on your way to building a successful career.

For a more in-depth look at what you should (and shouldn’t) include in your resume, check out the do’s and don’ts of resume writing!


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