Writing Effective Resume for College Grads

I have been in management position for over 10 years now and during my tenure I have hired a number of people for entry level positions. I’ve seen my fair share of resumes and I can tell you that some resumes work better than other.

Resumes are as important as the national ID itself. They help identify who you are and get you in the door of hiring companies. Needless to say getting the right resumes can spell success or disaster.

There are thousands of books covering this subject. Besides books there are also myriad of experts touch on this subject. I’m not going to regurgitate what is important to put in a resume and what is trivial. Here I’m going to list what you should do and avoid on a resume. If you are recent college graduates, hope this will give you some pointers how to land your first in person interview.

Aces (What you should do!)

Resume Refresh – Nowadays getting connected in a new world has become the norm. However, for some reason resumes remain stuck in the past. Of all the resumes I’ve seen most of them continue to stuck to the same formatting, with the exception of one. The resume that I was referring to was redesigned like a webpage; it helps the reader to focus on important things with highlights and pop up areas. The resume caught my eye and I was excited to learn more about the person. Unfortunately, the candidate did not make the cut because she did not have the experience I was looking for. The point is it is highly recommend that you revamp your resume and stay away from the old traditional format.

Highlight Success – It is not enough just to list your job experience. To catch the eye of recruiters list all your successes during your years of experience. Don’t list what you have done but showed what you achieved. If you have certain achievements that helped a company, list it on the top. As an example, instead of saying you build an Excel template for the team to input inventory try to point out the time saved for the team because your Excel template enable a more effective way of categorizing inventory.

Check Formatting and Spelling – A resume that has tons of errors and spelling will automatically put your resume in the trash. This is perhaps one of the most critical things on a resume that a lot of candidates overlook but that can be easily fixed. If you send out an error full resume to a recruiter that signifies that you are careless and do not prioritize your work. These 2 traits are very important to any employer.

Summarize Your Experience – Most recruiters do not have the time to read every resume from top to bottom. What you need is summarize your experience or what you can do for the company. Personally, I’m interested in reading high level summary of the person on the top of the resume. In a business environment, this is call an Executive Summary. Instead of diving deep into the content of a report most executives will read of the summary if there is anything interesting or require their attention. This is very similar to a resume – present who you are in a way that the recruiter or hiring manager wants to know you.

Hide Trivial Matters – Similar to the point on summarizing your experience don’t overburden the reader. Don’t list any things or experience that do not add any value to your resume. You were placed second in the 2005 school marathon? Great! But leave it out. You worked as a cashier in a supermarket and trained a high school student how to use the cash machine? This is considered trivial and would not score you any points. Most recruiters want to see ground shaking experience and that you are an “A” type employee.

Avoid at All Cost

No Sports – It is really funny how Americans place emphasis on sports at school and colleges. Getting into soccer is like a rite of passage for kindergartners. My kids high school care more about football and soccer games that getting the grades. I have worked professionally for over 25 years and I can tell you that the subject of hiring someone who was good at sport never appear once. I understand that some may put sports on their resume because it is a team sport, but in most jobs this is a non-issue. What recruiters care about if you are capable to follow instructions and get things done.

No “Can Do” Personality – Do not categorize yourself as a “Can Do” person. Employers care about someone who takes initiatives and get things done with minimal supervision. Try to portray yourself as someone who takes up a challenge and innovative at the same time.

Don’t Lie – This is quite simple and yet a lot of candidates like to lie on their resumes. For a seasoned recruiter they can easily spot a fib by just do a quick glance. In other words don’t say you are an expert on everything. Instead, try to portray yourself who is excited to learn new things. Imagine that you were able to secure an interview but not able to respond to a question asked by the interviewer.

Don’t Overdo – Some resumes may require technical language. But for the most part resumes should kept simple and readable by a 4th grader. Dressing your resume with all “flowers” or technical jargon is a disservice to yourself. I have been writing management report for Board of Directors for over 7 years now and I can tell you that the chairperson prefer something that can be easily understood. Any abbreviations we use on our reports must be spelled out to avoid any confusion.

These are some of the pointers that I believe are important. Writing good resumes require a lot of work and what I have here may not cover everything. If you consider my points above I believe you will be one step closer to get your foot in the door.

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