Photo: Flickr / Katelyn Fay
In order to get a job, you need a resume that will get you noticed.For recent college graduates with no previous professional experience, this might be difficult.
So how do you set yourself apart when your experience is very similar to the rest of your peers who are all pining for the same jobs as you?
To help these young people get their foot in the employment door, we spoke to Roxanne Peplow, career advisor at Computer Systems Institute who also teaches professional development classes to help students make a smooth transition into professional life.
Here’s what she told us:
1. Have a hook at the beginning of your resume. Some experts have told us that you shouldn’t include an objective on your resume because it’s obvious what your objective is: To get a job.
But Peplow says it’ll benefit people entering the workforce to do so because they need to stand out. However, she advises to use a more creative heading that “says something about you without giving too much away” instead of “objective” because that’s “boring.”
Here’s the example she gave us:
555 Main Street
Jobville, IL 55555
“Dedicated Professional with 10+ Years of Outstanding Management and Training Experience”
2. Only list jobs that have relevancy with the one for which you are applying. Just because you have minimal work experience doesn’t mean that you have nothing to offer. Highlight your transferable skills, which are the ones that you can use from one job to the next — regardless of the position.
3. Use the right keywords. Many companies — especially larger ones — are using a keyword-searchable database that scans resumes for words related to certain job vacancies.
“You must put some of the keywords from the job posting into your resume, or it will probably never be seen by human eyes,” Peplow says. “There are algorithms that seek out the specifications from the job posting in your resume. So if a job posting says that they are looking for a ‘certified phlebotomist with 2-plus years of experience in a hospital setting,’ then you better have that somewhere in your qualifications.”
To know which keywords to use, applicants should carefully look through the job posting, but they can also use the LinkedIn skills section to find the words that would most likely be used in a company’s search query database, suggests Barbara Safani of CareerSolvers.
To do this, click on the “More” tab in your LinkedIn profile and enter a type of skill or description into the search box. This will result in a list of related skills to pop up, which you can use as keywords on your resume.
In the example below, entering the word “product management” produced keywords such as “product leadership” and “feature prioritization.”
4. Start every skill, qualification, or accomplishment with an action verb.
It’s even better if you can quantify it.
For example, include that you “strategically planned and implemented designs for top 10 clients resulting in 30% net profit” in your resume if that’s what you did. It’s straight-forward and tells the hiring manager exactly what you did and the magnitude to how you did it.
5. Use plenty of white space to draw the reader’s eye to specific items.
“Make it pleasing to the eye, and balanced with bullets, italics and bold font,” Peplow says, “Have your name stand out in bigger and bold letters; italicize your titles, bullet point your accomplishments. Too many words on a page are exhausting to read.”
However, also remember to not reveal everything on the resume. You need enough to catch someone’s attention, but you should also save some stuff for the interview.
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