Recent college graduates are usually eager to submit their resumes and start interviewing for positions centered around their studies. At the same time, new graduates applying for their first full-time position after college may not know what to include in their resumes. Adults who worked while attending school may have a slightly easier time but can find themselves staring at a blank piece of paper nonetheless.
New Graduates Should Develop a Resume Strategy
Jamie Johnson is a career advisor at University of Phoenix. Through the University’s Career Services for Life program, she counsels numerous recent graduates on best practices for entering a new job market. Her most basic piece of advice to students and alumni is to know what they want in a job and how to present themselves in the best possible light to obtain a position.
A resume is a brief opportunity for prospective employers to find out who applicants are and what they can offer their company. Answering that question for employers in a manner that makes them want to learn more requires new college graduates to develop a strategy. Just as marketers do before they launch a new campaign, job applicants should research companies to determine the target audience for their resume.
Resume writers have just seconds to make a strong enough impression on recruiters that they want to continue reading. When recruiters do not spot what they need immediately after clicking on a new resume, they will move onto the next one immediately. The most efficient way for job seekers to have recruiters notice their resume is to include a professional profile at the top. The profile should describe any relevant work or educational experiences and tie them to the open position whenever possible.
Students Should Not Feel Intimidated by Lack of Work Experience
Johnson often finds herself encouraging students not to sell themselves short when writing a resume. This is especially true for younger students who may not have much of a work history to include.
Johnson urges new graduates to add any relevant information about student achievements such as a grade point average higher than 3.0, internships or special projects. Past military service or volunteer work can also teach students skills they can easily transfer to a new position and are worth including in a resume. Any of this data qualifies as the most recent information for someone who has just graduated from college.
Unfortunately, some employers screen prospects based upon their preconceived ideas of their company culture. The best way for new graduates searching for a job to protect themselves from potential discrimination is not to include any information that does not relate to the position. Johnson also advises new graduates not to include a photo with their resumes.
Carefully Consider the Resume Format and Keywords
After deciding what to include in a resume and the target audience to receive a copy, the next step is to create an outline or first draft. Job seekers will then want to review what they have written down to ensure that the resume contains plenty of action words.
Johnson suggests that new college graduates use a thesaurus to find substitutes for words such as led, managed and handled. Resumes with more active words like orchestrated, executed or coordinated will stand out when dozens of people have used the same type of descriptive phrases. She also advises new graduates to use numbers and figures to represent achievements while briefly describing the result.
People who submit multiple resumes only to get no response do not always realize that a computer software program usually scans resumes before anyone ever looks at them directly. These programs, called applicant tracking systems (ATS), pick out keywords pre-programmed by human resources staff to select resumes for further review. Even highly qualified candidates can have their resume go nowhere if a company’s software algorithm did not pick up the right words.
Jobscan.com is a key resource for anyone creating a resume. This website analyzes a resume for relevant keywords and suggests whether it will pass through an ATS. Since certain resume formats can confuse an ATS, it can be ideal to use traditional formatting, standard fonts and limited images or special characters.
New Graduates Can Benefit From Networking
Applying for an open position through a job board is not the only way to start a career. Recent graduates can also spend time developing a professional network if they do not belong to one already. Joining a professional association, connecting with people through LinkedIn (LinkedIn is a registered trademark of LinkedIn Corporation and its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries) and attending networking events (in person or virtually) can be great ways to learn of potential job openings.
About University of Phoenix
The University of Phoenix offers more than 100 degree programs ranging from a two-year associate degree to completion of a doctoral program. Students complete one course at a time over a period of five to six weeks, which is something that busy adults juggling multiple priorities appreciate.
Established in 1976, the University of Phoenix educationally prepares students to enter numerous occupations after graduation. Alumni can take advantage of the University’s Career Services for Life program whether they graduated last month or 20 years ago. With instructors averaging 26 years of real-world experience in their specialty, University of Phoenix students can feel confident they are learning content relevant to their field of study.
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