Your resume is your introduction to a prospective employer of who you are, why you are qualified for the job, and what you bring to the company. A sloppy resume with typos, grammatical errors, or which is poorly formatted will likely be disregarded. Similarly, a resume which does not include any substance will not explain what you bring to the company, and will, ultimately, not get you that interview. Instead, you want to create a compelling resume which will impress prospective employers.
To do this, you will first want to find a template that works for you. Many recent graduates find templates that are over-the-top or which are very “creative.” The reason is to show how creative the recent graduate is. And while I give these graduates an A for effort, it simply gives a hiring manager a reason to disregard the resume. Instead, find a format that emphasizes your skills, education, and relevant experience in a slightly more traditional way. A properly formatted resume will do far more for your career that any “unique” resume. And if you are submitting a paper resume, avoid colored papers, adding scents, or any other gimmicks to “stand out.” This will, usually, lead to your resume simply going in the trash.
Next, be sure to add a powerful objective line. This is your opportunity to explain: “why you.” “Seeking a career in marketing,” for instance, is not a strong objective. It does not sell you, your education, or your skills. “Graduate of XYZ College seeking an entry level position at a marketing firm where I can utilize my education and internship experience.” This second objective clearly states the job you are seeking, which gives the impression you are truly looking for this job, not simply sending out your resume to every firm out there. In addition, it highlights that your education and experience are relevant to the industry in which you would like to work.
Next, you need to work on the content of your resume. When building a resume, you need to consider what the most important thing you did over the last 5 years was. For college graduates, that would be education, not work experience. As such, education should be your next area of focus. List your school, degree, graduating year, any honors, and GPA (if it’s high). After this, you can list any internships which you completed while in school or any part-time or summer jobs you had. Make sure you cater the description of the jobs or internships to focus on how they are relevant to your career. And finally, list any skills or relevant extra-curricular activities, to add depth to you as an applicant.
After you have built your resume, review it. Then, have some people look at it. If this is your first resume, the help of someone who has been in the workforce for a number of years and successfully gotten a few jobs in the past can be very helpful. And finally, find out if your college offers resume reviews through their career counseling department. Many do, and that can be the finishing touch your resume needs to get you that first job.