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Resume 101: How-To for New Grads

Congratulations – you’ve graduated (or you’re about to)! The world is your oyster, or so your well-meaning relatives tell you. The key to grabbing this oyster is securing a good first job … and you need a great resume to make it happen. Thinking your volunteer work and extra-curricular activities aren’t resume worthy? Not so!

Your resume should demonstrate how your abilities and what you accomplished as a student transfers effectively to the workplace. Bridge the connection between your past experiences and how they apply to your future goals.

As a new grad, you may not think your experience reflects real skills or knowledge. But once you start writing about your responsibilities and achievements, you’ll realize you know more than you think!

Connect Your On Campus Activities to Your Professional Objective

Align your resume and skills with the roles you seek. For instance, you volunteered to work on your school’s clothing drive. You prepared the content that appeared on the school’s website and social media regarding event dates, items to be collected, and promoted the event online through campaigns and publicity outreach.

A graduate with a BA in Marketing can use this experience to establish marketing, communication, social media, and public relations skills and apply them to a job goal. Incorporate worthwhile skills and experience in your summary section at the top of your resume. Remember, you want to show what value you offer – not what you’re looking to get out of the role. Take a look at the following examples:

Example A: Looking for a position with a top company which will challenge me to use my marketing skills.

Example B: Bachelor’s Degree graduate of Elm Tree University’s marketing program, pursuing a position in marketing and promotions. Demonstrated experience in online advertising campaigns, event coordination, and social media management.

The first example doesn’t give a true understanding of what you offer. The second shows you have hands-on marketing experience, and offer value plus knowledge – an advantage over another just looking “to use their marketing skills.”

Turn Your Service and Part-time Jobs into Transferrable Results

Your resume should showcase your potential to a hiring manager. They’re looking at your past experiences and performance as a student. Include your responsibilities and quantify your details. Use your volunteerism, school activities, internships, and job experience to show your potential.

For instance, as your fraternity’s fundraiser coordinator, indicate how much money you collected from fundraising campaigns and how you did it – this establishes your organizational and leadership skills to a hiring manager:

Example: Raised more than $3k for the local homeless shelter by organizing logistics with another fraternity for a cooking and baking contest; managed 28 volunteers and encouraged teamwork and partnerships.

Last summer, you worked as a cashier; avoid simply stating you worked the register. For example did you also man the customer service desk? Show a hiring manager your client service skills and how you can effectively offer solutions:

Example: Provided client service by handling cash transactions and running the returns desk for a high volume retail store; used creative problem solving to manage difficult customer situations while adhering to company policies.

Perhaps you took part in a tutoring program. On your resume, don’t just say you tutored students. Showcase your mentoring abilities and how you contribute positively to influencing and motivating others:

Example: Tutored students in grades 9-12 and coached them on better habits for learning which led to higher performance, with all students attaining a grade of B+ or higher.

When writing your resume, dig deeper into your activities, internships, and jobs. Don’t simply list your accountabilities; think about how you performed and what skills you applied. Turn those experiences and results into transferrable skills that apply to the workplace. This will help effectively demonstrate your capabilities and job goals to a hiring manager.

Now go get that oyster!

Deidre is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Executive Director at Inspired Resumes.

photo credit: ralph and jenny via photopin cc

About Deidre Pannazzo

Deidre is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Executive Director at Inspired Resumes. She leverages her experience of working within the executive search industry to deliver expert resume and career services to clients of all levels, including professionally-written resumes and LinkedIn profile development. Deidre couples her business development and customer relations skills with her market insight and attention to detail to consistently deliver exemplary results