Posted By Amanda Collins on May 19, 2013
In the Phoenix area, Arizona State University had graduation last week. Across the country, other colleges and high schools will be following their lead, sending tons of young people out into the world of work, many of them unprepared for even the first steps. This is a great time to get those graduates in the right frame of mind with a fantastic resume. Whether they’re headed to college, grad school, or a professional position, that first resume lays the groundwork for a lifetime.
If you were lucky, you had some education in high school or college about how to build a resume, but what we’re teaching our young people is often 10+ years old and not appropriate for this marketplace. I can’t tell you how many resumes I review that have an old-school objective on them! Starting your document with, “To obtain a position in which I can …” serves no one! Also, many older style resumes are loaded with bullets and focused on tasks rather than accomplishments. These young people need our help!
Although it may seem daunting to write your first resume (or one for your child), the same rules apply here as they do for an experienced executive.
Start with a Title
Objectives are passe. In actuality, they’re more about you than they are about the employer. Instead of an objective, start with a succinct, clear title. If you’re not exactly sure what you want to do, put something that’s a little more generic for cold applications (such as a resume for a job fair), and then change the title for each position for which you apply.
Too often, I see new grads (and others!) missing the vital marketing component of their resumes: the summary. A summary truly answers the question, “Why should I hire you?” Without this, I have no idea why you’re the best candidate for my position. Remember to include this brief section right after the title so you set the tone for what the reader should expect. Also, add in a keywords section so the resume registers on applicant tracking systems (ATS).
A resume’s strengths lie in its accomplishments. Once you’ve set the tone of the document with a title and solid summary, keep the momentum with accomplishments. On your first resume, you may be at a bit of a loss as to what your accomplishments are, but I’m pretty sure you’ll still have them. You may need to get out of the traditional chronological format to really think about those ways you’ve added value in the past, and don’t get stuck on just paid positions; volunteering and school clubs are great places to accrue accomplishments.
Writing a first resume can feel like a big task, but getting started on the right foot will set you up for future successes. If you’re curious if your resume stacks up, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary review.