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It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges recent graduates face is finding work in a highly-competitive job market. Graduates are not only competing with other graduates for a limited number of jobs. They’re also competing against job seekers with more years of experience under their belt, career changers, and those re-entering the job force (due to layoffs, company closing/restructuring, taking a career hiatus to raise a family/care for a sick loved one, etc.).
With recruiters and hiring managers receiving hundreds of resumes at once, it’s more important than ever to stand out and differentiate yourself from other candidates. Unfortunately, I find many recent graduates fall short in presenting themselves on paper due to misguided advice from parents, friends, and even university advisors. These folks mean well, but they are often sharing outdated tips that just aren’t as effective in the current job market.
Rethink the 1-Page Resume
This is an issue that comes up a lot. Many are under the impression that their resume cannot be more than 1-page long based on well-intended advice from someone else – maybe a parent, friend, or even a university advisor/career counselor.
While many new graduate resumes actually do end up only being 1-page long due to very limited experience; some graduates manage to acquire quite a few marketable skills and experience throughout their matriculation via practicums, shadowing professionals, campus leadership roles, volunteer experience, and international travel/study; and they need a 2-page resume to effectively to communicate it. These experiences and exposures can give you the competitive-edge when it comes to being considered for jobs after graduation, so I don’t recommend leaving them off.
Think Like a Hiring Manager
Sometimes job seekers insist on including information on a resume that’s not relevant to the requirements for the job. To be fair, deciding what information to include and what to leave off a resume is a challenge for any job seeker. My advice is to pay attention to the job listing of the job you’re applying to and try to think like the hiring manager. What are the job’s requirements, and do you meet them? Make sure the information you provide communicates that you do. What type of skills is the hiring manager looking for? Does your resume reflect those skills?
Add the Right Keywords
If you’re looking for jobs online, the process typically involves completing an online application and uploading your resume for review. What you may not realize is that 75% of companies then run the uploaded resume through and ATS system as part of their initial screening process. The ATS system screens applicant resumes for specific keywords and phrases. Those that don’t include these keywords don’t make the cut and never reach an actual person’s hand for the next step of the hiring process.
Highlight Key Skills Related to the Job
In keeping with the tips for thinking like a hiring manager and adding the right keywords, make sure that your skills are related to the skills required for the specific job(s) you are targeting. A one-size-fits-all resume can get you ignored. Individualizing your resume each time you submit it is the best way to prove that you are qualified.
Avoid the Fluff
Recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes from qualified (and unqualified) job candidates. They receive so many resumes that reading them all word-for-word is just not possible. They know exactly what they are looking for and how to quickly skim each document to find it. So don’t make it harder by “padding” your resume with unnecessary adjectives and generalized tasks.
Highlight Your Achievements and Contributions
This is the most important information that should be included on your resume; and yet so many people don’t bother including it. When an employer reviews your resume, he/she wants to know WHY you’ll be the best candidate for the job. Your achievements and/or contributions answer that question. By providing specific examples of how you solved a certain problem, or improved and old system or procedure, you demonstrate the value in hiring you for the job.
Photo Credit: Rochelle Nicole
Now be honest… is the resume and cover letter you’ve been submitting for jobs getting you noticed? Are you receiving invitations to interview? If not, we should talk! Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION 15-minute consultation.