Preparing a resume and cover letter during your last semester can be an incredibly tense and stressful time. Everything is on the line. You’ve spent the last four years (at least) getting an education, and now you have to prove it.
We’ve compiled some tips to make sure your transition into the working world is smooth:
One Page Only
If your resume looks great but it reads like one of your college philosophy books, there is no way an employer is going to take time to decode your hidden messages. Be direct and concise. They don’t want to read your life story.
Also, if you’re just finishing college, they assume you don’t have much experience, and they do not want to read three detailed pages about your high school awards. Chances are if you’re being considered for an entry-level position, your potential employer knows exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t complicate it for them.
Format Consistency & Alignment
This seemingly insignificant portion of your resume is your future employer’s first look at how organized and systematic you are. If your alignment varies from section to section or if you tabbed over an area where you shouldn’t, employers will notice. Attention to detail can be the difference between a new job with a great salary and ramen-ridden unemployment.
You should always spellcheck. There is a wonderful invention standard on most document editing software that helps prevent misspellings. There is no excuse. Your potential employers will agree. It also helps to read a hard copy. You will catch things in print you didn’t catch digitally.
Sporadic punctuation may help you gain attention on your resume, but trust me. It is not the kind of attention you want. If you end one sentence in a list with a period, end all lines with a period. If you are not constructing full sentences, but put a period in any way… throw your resume away and start over. Commas are important, so use them correctly. Semi-colons usually aren’t necessary; use them sparingly.
Make sure if you “Have experience in” one thing, you continue to use the active present tense throughout your document (don’t revert back to “experienced in”). This small change in verbiage (And trust me. It is small.) could land you the job or leave you out in the unemployed pool of hopefuls.
If you’re the typical college student, you have probably jumped from job to job gathering as many hours as you can to pay bills. PLEASE NOTE: Not all of your work experience is important. No one cares that you folded shirts at Gap. If you play your cards right, you can create a resume that makes you seem perfect for one job and another resume that makes you seem perfect for a completely different job.
Your relevant experience is gold! Highlight skills each position requests, using the same wording when you can (without appearing to have copied it from their website). It’s all about versatility. Spend time phrasing your experience to demonstrate high problem solving skills instead of good decision-making.
If you don’t have a 3.8 or higher, don’t put your GPA on your resume. We all know you may be proud of the 93 in Organic Chemistry, but it is better to leave out anything that may classify you as less than the best.
Including your education on your resume is debated among many professionals, so it is up to you if you want to include it or not, but we recommend you feature your strengths. If your education isn’t something you’re extremely proud of, don’t feature it. Brag on something you feel makes you more suited for the position.
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