You’ve got your head in the game, your network ready and a plan outlined. Now it’s time to tackle your resume.
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom across university campuses, and that means two things: Spring quarter (or late second semester for some) is officially upon us and graduation is inching closer-and-closer.
Based on my experience, students (and parents) are starting to panic right about … now.
I’m continuing my focus on the college graduate community in April. Even if you’re already in the “real world,” the content this month will help you as you think about your Engaged Pursuit.
Last month we focused on getting mentally ready for the transition out of school, the importance of defining your network and the crucial elements of building a solid career plan. To kick-off April, we’re moving into tactics: Building your perfect resume.
Here are six steps to building a perfect resume (whether it be your first or your hundredth):
Keep your format simple: Three words to live by: Don’t. Be. Cute. I’ve seen resumes with pictures, with colors, with big font, with little font, with italics, with huge margins, and with no margins. Just keep it simple. Do not try to set yourself apart with a unique resume template – it doesn’t work. Use normal fonts, limited bold/italics and no pictures. Believe me here.
Start with your Professional Story + Strengths: You don’t want employers to guess why you’re a good fit for an open opportunity. You want to tell them. I like to include a few sentences describing your overall professional (or college) experience in a “Summary” section. I also like to include a few Strengths (in bulleted form) to really round-out your resume. Don’t dive into professional experiences right away.
Don’t put your education first: I know, I know – most career centers will tell you to start with education specifics at the very beginning of your first resume. Don’t do this. Keep your resume format like any other professional. Employers will know you’re right out of school. No need to call it out with education listed first.
Think “So What?”: Real estate is super-valuable within a resume template, so each bullet needs to describe not only your activities in a previous role, but the results as well. Ask yourself “So What?” at the end of each bullet. If you can’t answer that basic question, re-write it.
Get 80% there: Your resume is a living/breathing document. You’ll need to customize it a bit for each opportunity, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. I tell my clients to get most of the way there and then fill in the final details (or bullets) once you find an interesting opportunity. Whatever you do, don’t use the same resume over-and-over without a little customization.
Don’t forget the personal details: I think including details around what makes you a well-rounded individual is important in a resume. Employers are looking for people with personalities and interesting experiences. Include things like marathon training or your passion for travel or your ability to speak three languages – companies like that stuff!
PS – another tip. Resumes don’t have to be one page. If you go into a second page, that’s totally fine. Just don’t go over two.
Your homework this week: Check out the numerous resume templates online and start drafting your “80% version” this month. See how it feels to describe yourself (and your Strengths) in the Summary section. Notice if your bullets answer the question “So What?” Ask others for feedback (or their resumes) if you need additional inspiration. Totally stuck? Reach out to me, and I can help – firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, don’t forget! Engaged Pursuit is extending our free, virtual webinar series called “Graduation is Coming: Now What?” (this includes a free Q&A with Tom). Check out the Facebook page or Website for new dates in April. Email me at email@example.com to sign-up!
Coming-up next week: We’re continuing our focus on the tactics of getting yourself out into the real world with a focus on Linked-In. You know you’ve truly become an adult when Linked-In is your social media of choice. We’ll give you pointers to stand-out here as well.
Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!