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Résumé Writing: Lack of Experience During College
Wouldn’t it be great if getting a job straight out of college were easy? I personally know at least five college graduates who are struggling to find even mediocre jobs. It’s not because their degrees are valueless, but rather because employers are opting to hire experienced workers (and, in this economy, there are a lot of them).
So, if you’re a college graduate with little or no experience, or anyone with little or no experience for that matter, then this article is written for you. Although it might sound tempting, lying on your résumé isn’t an option, albeit some people attempt to get away with it and are usually worse off for it. Fortunately, there are other options.
If there is one thing you learn from this article, remember that it isn’t about the quantity of résumés you put out, but rather the quality.
Let’s cut the chitchat and get right into it.
(Note: As an attempt to establish my credibility, I am a professional résumé writer for Hired Résumé Service. Furthermore, I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Communication, a minor in Journalism, and I have experience as the News Editor of UW-Stout’s student newspaper, Stoutonia.)
There are three basic sections on most college student résumés: summary of qualifications, education and relevant experience.
The Summary of Qualifications is a bulleted list of reasons why you are the right candidate for the position you are applying for. This is your opportunity to express, in plain English, what sets you apart from the other candidates. Typically, you’ll want to mention your education first, amount of experience second (if any), and then any other characteristics that truly make you stand out. The summary of qualifications is very important, so I’ve written another article on the subject that goes into further detail.
The Education Section of your résumé should include the degree you graduated with (or are pursuing), the name of the school, the school’s location (City, State), the time span that you were attending school (Year – Year), any minors or concentrations completed (or are pursuing), and any academic awards you received while attending school. Your GPA (grade point average) is somewhat optional; you basically have to use your best judgment.
Note: One of my professors once told me that if you’re not sure whether or not to include your GPA, you’re better off leaving it out. If brought up in an interview, my professor suggested saying that you were a ‘very social person’ during your first years of college, but that you ‘got it out of your system’ as you started taking degree-related courses.
Tip: If you have a lot of white space on your résumé that you’d like to fill in, include a “Sample of Classes Taken” list below your education. Tailor this list to meet the needs of the employer by including courses that taught you skills necessary for the position being sought after (this sentence is a bit of a rollercoaster, but I’m keeping it anyways).
Relevant Experience can be difficult to muster up if you’ve just completed your education and don’t have any experience in the field. Because of this, you’re going to really need to define yourself by writing a comprehensive summary of qualifications. To do this, follow these steps:
1) Go to Careerplanner.com’s Job Description Search Tool and search for the position that you are applying for. On the following page, click on the link that provides the position’s job description.
2) Scroll down to the “Job Tasks” section. Here you will find a bunch of specific tasks preformed by someone who has that job. This information will help you select keywords that should be included in your summary of qualifications.
3) For the tasks that you possess an education in, develop a list of specific qualifications that match the tasks required for the job. For example, if one of the tasks is “Edit, standardize, or make changes to material prepared by other writers or establishment personnel,” then you might write one of your qualifications as “Capable of editing or modifying documents prepared by other writers to conform to the requirements of the final product.” This will immediately make you stand out from other candidates that lack a strong summary of qualifications section, even if they have more experience.
Everyone’s situation is different, and each résumé requires a personal touch. Because of this, I can only supply general information – things to keep in mind while you construct your résumé.
If you don’t put a lot of effort into making a great résumé, hiring managers will realize this and opt to pursue a candidate that did. Avoid this mistake and you’ll likely be rewarded with an interview.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and want more confidence in your résumé, my mother and I operate our own résumé writing service and would love to help you out. Unlike many of the large résumé writing services, we concentrate on making sure that each of our clients' résumés are ideal for their unique situation. For more information, you can visit our website: Hired Résumé Service.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please leave your feedback below. Thanks for reading, and good luck!