May 07

If you have recently graduated and are seeking an entry-level position, it is important to place your education information in a prominent place on your resume. The best location is just beneath your stated career objective, near the top of the first page of your resume.

List all institutions where you have completed a degree or certificate program. It is not necessary to list colleges where you took courses that ultimately led to a degree at another university. For example, if you took three courses at a junior college, and then transferred to a four-year university, leave the junior college off your resume.

Place your education information in reverse chronological order, so that a Master’s degree would appear above a Bachelor’s degree, which would appear above an Associate’s degree, and so on.

Do not include your high school education on your resume, unless you are a recent high school graduate and that is your highest level of education to date.

When listing your education, include your major or area of emphasis, as well as your minor, if any. If your grade point average was at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, list that as well. Finally, if you graduated with honors or some type of academic distinction (such as magna cum laude), you should include that distinction on your resume.

May 01

Volunteer experience can increase the impact of your resume, as long as the experience is related to your job objective. But there are other ways in which volunteer work can change your career outlook.

Volunteering can help you develop new skills, or discover talents or interests that you never realized you had. For example, planning a charity event could help you enhance your goal-setting and budgeting skills. Serving on a volunteer committee can help you learn teamwork. Leading an organization or a committee teaches strategic thinking and conflict resolution skills.

Networking is another benefit of volunteering. You’ll likely meet a diverse range of people through your efforts, so not only will you be expanding your interpersonal skills, but you also might meet someone who could help lead you to a new career opportunity. You could hear about job openings that interest you, or build relationships with others who could serve as references for you.

Finally, volunteering is a perfect way to explore new career options and fields of interest without leaving your current job situation. Thus, in serving your community you might discover an entirely new career direction!

Apr 26

Failing to pay attention to the appearance of your resume will cause it to fail to be noticed, no matter how well written it may be. When selecting paper and ink color for your resume, stick to the basics. First, always use high-quality paper with a weight between 16 lbs and 25 lbs, and with at least 25% cotton fiber.

Never use fancy typefaces, and don’t use multiple typefaces. Times New Roman, size 10, 11 or 12 point is standard for text, but Arial typeface is often used as well. Both of these are easy to read and pleasant to look at. Use a larger type, such as 14 or 16 point, for headings. Also bold your headings, job titles and perhaps your degree information, but use regular, un-bolded font for everything else. Remember, if you try and emphasize too many things, nothing will stand out.

What about color? Shades of white and ivory are really the only acceptable colors for resume paper. Don’t be tempted to use cutesy paper with graphic backgrounds, such as clouds or marble designs. Finally, always use black ink. It is the easiest to read, and it also faxes and photocopies better than any other color.

Apr 24

When you are writing your resume, realize that employers don’t expect students or new graduates to have vast amounts of experience. Even so, your approach should be the same as for an executive with years of experience.

First, identify your job objective – this is the type of work you want to do. Next, identify which skills and qualifications employers would look for in selecting a candidate for that job, and include everything you can think of that is relevant. Finally, leave everything else off the resume.

So what should be included? Personality characteristics that are important to the job you are seeking, such as a positive attitude, leadership capabilities, and problem-solving skills. Be sure you can back these up with some real-life examples for your interview.

Of course, include your educational achievements, along with relevant course lists. Focus your job history, internships, co-ops and other work experience on skills or responsibilities that are clearly relevant to your current objective.

Additionally, include volunteer endeavors that demonstrate important qualities or are particularly pertinent to the job you are seeking. For instance, if you are seeking employment in web design, and you volunteered to build a website for a campus organization, it should be included even if you were not paid.

Apr 23

When you are preparing your resume as a new graduate, it might be tempting to include hobbies and personal interests. After all, they make you seem more “real,” more well-rounded, and could be icebreakers in job interviews, right?

Not necessarily; many employers see hobbies as unnecessary filler on a resume. As a general rule, you’ll want to leave them off. Let your educational achievements, affiliations, leadership experience, community involvement, and other relevant information speak to your suitability and well-roundedness. Employers typically aren’t terribly interested in what you do in your spare time.

That being said, if you have a hobby that is particularly relevant to your job objective and/or reflects positively on your job skills, then by all means, do include it. For example, if you are seeking a job as a graphic designer, and one of your hobbies is digital photography, then include it. As another example, suppose you are looking for work in law enforcement, and you are a sky-diver. This particular hobby might demonstrate courage to some employers, so it could be seen as relevant.

The bottom line is that you should think very carefully before deciding to include personal hobbies on your resume, because in most cases, they simply don’t belong.

Apr 18

If you are posting your resume online it is absolutely essential to incorporate industry buzzwords, keywords that describe your skills, knowledge and education. A keyword need only be listed once on the resume in order to be considered a “hit” by a search engine.

For example, suppose you are a technical project manager who specializes in system implementation and integration. Not only should you include the particular technologies in which you are experienced, such as Microsoft Project; you also need to list skills that are required to do your job well (i.e. change management, risk assessment, and cost/benefit analysis).

Be careful with acronyms and abbreviations. It is better to spell out the word or phrase at least once on the resume, unless an acronym is so well known by nearly everyone in your industry that it would be highly unlikely to be confused with something else. An example would be “CPA,” for Certified Public Accountant.

Don’t include irrelevant information on your resume. Instead, reserve the space for terminology and keywords that are specifically relevant to the type of work you are seeking to ensure that your resume will be seen by employers.

Apr 17

If you have little or no experience related to your career objective, you’ll need another way to attract a prospective employer’s attention and present yourself as a worthy candidate. To achieve this, highlight transferable skills on your resume. These are skills and abilities you possess that can be of benefit in a variety of job positions. Some examples are leadership skills, organizational skills, computer literacy, and ability to multi-task.

To identify your transferable skills, make a comprehensive list of all your work experience, school activities, volunteer work, sports, hobbies and other activities in which you have participated, as well as specific accomplishments. Carefully review the list, determining what specific skills each activity has helped you master. Then list these skills on your resume under the heading “Transferable Skills,” taking care to include only the skills that are relevant to your specific job objective. For instance, if you are seeking a job as a software developer, your public speaking ability isn’t really important.

Be sure to have concrete examples of each skill in mind, so that you are able to substantiate your statements in an interview situation. As a new graduate, your transferable skills are one of the keys to helping you land the position that will propel your career. Make them work for you.

Apr 16

Most new graduates have little or no employment history, but that doesn’t mean they have no work experience. Internships are, perhaps, the most valuable work experience of all for a college student because in doing that work you are applying what you have learned in class and are gaining practical experience in your chosen field.

Don’t minimize your internship on your resume. Highlight it instead, providing a detailed description of the work you performed and the knowledge you gained. Employers will be much more interested in this information than in your part-time jobs, extracurricular activities and core courses.

Likewise, be sure to showcase any research projects you’ve led or participated in while a student. These can include senior projects, major term papers, independent studies or group research studies that are relevant to your chosen field. Dedicate two or three lines to describe the study, including its purpose and your role in it. This information can be presented as a subordinate section within the education portion of your resume, or can be highlighted in its own dedicated section on the resume.