Writing your first resume often means making a lot out of a little, or even nothing. After all, with no experience relevant to your target job, how do you persuade recruiters that you’re the one they need?
Here are some tips to write a first resume that will impress recruiters with your potential as an employee.
Life before graduation
The first thing to remember when writing a graduate resume is that you had a life before graduation. You had hobbies, work experience, club memberships, part-time jobs and other ways of indicating where your interests lay.
Some of these could be useful to your resume. But be wary: emphasise only those that have direct relevance to your chosen career and/or the job you’re applying for.
Even if you attended one of the best private schools in the state, then got into a prestigious university course, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels.
Show recruiters that you were a proactive, rather than passive student. If you are applying for jobs in the industrial design sector, and you took a special elective in this, or made it the topic of your honours thesis, you must stress it in the resume.
If you are applying for jobs in chemical engineering and you were president of the university chemistry society, that’s a real indication of your enthusiasm. But it also shows that you had the respect of others, which implies interpersonal and leadership skills.
Digitisation in the workplace means sectors that had little to do with software platforms and programs are now looking for graduate applicants with computer skills.
At the very least recruiters expect candidates to be familiar with Word and Excel. If you haven’t worked with Excel, take the time to do an online tutorial that introduces you to the program. It may be one of the oldest programs in computing, but it has applications across a number of areas.
Thanks to cloud computing and physical internet network devices, computer-literate employees are more likely to be hired. If you can program, make sure you include this on your resume.
Emphasise your selling points
If you’ve never had a job related to your chosen profession, then you need to emphasise your academic and personal achievements. The most important thing to remember is to stress those qualities that relate to the job you’re applying for.
If you think of a resume as a one size fits all official record of your life to date, then think again. Each time you apply for a job you should revise your resume in line with that job’s requirements. If you are applying for a journalism position and you did an internship at the Sydney Morning Herald, include this in detail.
On the other hand, your Year 10 work experience week at an animal shelter can safely be left out – unless you subsequently wrote about your experience for your school newspaper, which shows a precocious desire to enter the profession.
The key with graduate resume writing is to show that you stand out from all those other graduates who did the same courses as you. By emphasising your grades and your activities to date, recruiters will have more of a reason to shortlist you.