Many people writing a resume for their first job make these mistakes:
- They try too hard to be clever and stand out by using fancy fonts, colors, clip art or even video resumes.
- They think volunteer work, summer jobs and school honors or adult-ed courses do not count.
- They are not clear about their career goals; they apply for everything and expect their resume to get them “any job.”
- They do not research what employers want.
Your resume helps you land your first job by presenting you at your best to recruiters and hiring managers who are looking for someone with your achievements, skills, and education.
Here’s what you should be doing:
1. Forget about clever paper, fonts, graduation hats and presentations.
Companies are not impressed by an origami resume. Focus on skills and achievements and you will quickly grab their attention.
2. Recognize and embrace the value of your experiences and education.
One of my clients worked the same summer job every year and showed enough skill in that short time to win two promotions. Another client who wanted to become a training manager wrote her thesis on “Mentoring in the Workplace.” A future sales person helped sell tickets to a nonprofit’s fundraising event. These are all important achievements on how to market your strengths; go-getter attitude and your initiative.
3. Write your resume for the job you want, not “any job.”
Do you prefer to work in a forest or an office? Do you like to travel and meet people, to work in a team or to work at home alone? Did you take courses in biology or art? Apply for the jobs you are prepared for and excite you, anything else would be wasting your time, and the recruiters, and they can sense “stepping-stone” candidates.
4. Find out what employers want.
Read the ads. Talk to people who already work in the job or industry that appeals to you. Read books about your chosen field. When you know what employers want, you can write a resume and cover letter that shows how you meet their needs. Keep your Cover Letter to one page maximum, Recruiters don’t have the time to read it all, highlight your key points, make yourself stand out.
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