How to highlight your education and your skills
Graduating from college is one of the proudest moments you can experience. Receiving your diploma validates all the hard work you put into your education, all the all-nighters you pulled before exams. Your graduation signifies your accomplishments as a student, and opens the door into the world of career choices, job searches, and 40-hour workweeks. All of a sudden, it hits you – how will you get a job that requires experience if you have none?
As a recent college graduate, you are entering the workforce at entry-level jobs. Your potential employers have very reasonable expectations. They expect you to have graduated from college and that your major is in line with the job you are applying for. They anticipate that you have some experience, a summer job or an internship, but they are not requiring years of professional experience. They would like to see some references – from your professors or previous supervisors – so that they can get a better idea of your personality and work ethic. Sound reasonable so far?
The best way to show your potential employer that you are a perfect candidate for the job is to create a functional resume. Functional resumes focus on your qualifications, not your career timeline. This style of the resume highlights what skills you have, rather than where and when you acquired or utilize them. In other words, instead of listing your experiences by your job titles, your resume will contained sections titled by your skills such as verbal and written communication, customer satisfaction, project management, etc. This resume style is highly recommended for and most often used by college students seeking internships or their first jobs out of college.
Begin your resume by stating your career objective. Make sure that your career goals are personal. Your objective should be specific to the position you want, and should indicate to your employer how you intend to utilize your education and how this position will help you develop your experience. Your education should be listed next. List the school you attend and its location, your graduation year, and your major. It can be helpful to include your GPA, specific courses you have taken, or any honors you have received while in school. Your professional skills should come next. This section will include sub-headings as they relate to specific qualifications you want to promote, such as communications, customer relations, managements, etc. Here, you can utilize any experience you have that relates to the sub-sections, including your part time jobs, internships, volunteer positions, community service work, or school-related activities. Only include a work experience/work history section if you have held part time jobs while in school or have had internships you’d like your employer to know about. This list should only include dates, titles, companies, and locations without listing any of your responsibilities, since you are covering them in the previous section. If you belonged to any clubs in school, include a section for activities and list only those that support your career objective. For example, if you were an editor of your school paper, and you are trying to get a job at a publishing company, make sure that you include this experience in your resume. Your last section should list references. As a new graduate, it is to your benefit to include references on your resume, and give your employer everything they need to consider you as a qualified candidate for the job. You have nothing to lose by providing this information ahead of being asked for it.
Before you start applying for jobs, take advantage of your school’s career center and have one of the mentors there review your resume and help you perfect both the content and the format. With a well-written resume, you are prepared to take the professional world by storm.