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.

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Including references on your resume

by Karen Watson on August 28, 2014

Have you ever wondered what the most commonly used line on a resume is? It would have to be the all time favorite, “References available upon request.” There is an ongoing debate among professionals about the inclusion of references on your resume. Some people will strongly encourage you to include the aforementioned line at the bottom of your resume. In a way, this lets your potential employer know that, if asked, you can name at least a couple of people that think you are a great asset to any company.

The opposing side will argue the validity of this line as it doesn’t provide any information with a call to action; we should operate under the assumption that every professional with a resume will be able to provide references from his previous employers. And yet another group of professionals will urge you not only to include this section in your resume, but list anywhere from three to five references, along with their titles, contact numbers and a description of your relationship to them. So, how do you know who to listen to?

We advocate mentioning references no matter what. It is proper resume etiquette that you include a section for your references at the bottom of your resume. This lets your potential employer know that you not only have professional references but you understand that checking references is an important part of your interview process. Additionally, you will want to have an employer request references from you so that you can let your references know they can expect to be contacted. Listing someone as your reference on your resume without letting them know, even if they have previously provided a reference for you, is not a good practice. You don’t want anyone on your reference list to be caught by surprise when they are contacted; you’ll want to let them know about the job you are applying for so that they know which qualifications they should highlight when they are contacted.

If you are posting your resume on job search web sites, such as monster.com, or are working with a head hunter to find the best opportunities for you, it is best that you simple use the line, “References available upon request” at the end of your resume. As indicated above, you will want to let your references know ahead of time if they will be contacted by a potential employer. Listing references on your resume and making it available to multiple employers for review may result in calls to your references by employers you may not have even been in touch with directly. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid this kind of annoyance to people you are using as references. You don’t want to abuse your relationship with them; therefore don’t include a full listing of references on your resume if you are making it available to masses.

If you are sending a resume to a specific employer, after you have been in touch with the hiring manager or someone at the company that will refer you for the job you are interested in, we suggest including references on your resume. This allows your potential employer to have all the information necessary to consider you as a serious candidate for the job. The reference list should include the person’s name, their title and the company they are working for, their relationship to you and their day-time telephone number. As a best practice, before you submit the resume, let your references know about the job opportunity, and that you are passing along their contact information to the potential employer.

If you have already submitted a resume without references, but are going to meet with the employer for an interview, bring a printed copy of your resume that includes a list of references. Following a good interview, employers typically check references – as a best practice, you will want to provide the hiring manager with a one-stop-shop of your qualifications and your references, so you should always bring a printed copy of your cover letter, your resume and references with you to an interview. Your vigilance is sure to make a great impression and bring you one step closer to getting the job you want.

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How to list education and experience form different countries on your resume

August 14, 2014

As a society, we pride our selves in our diversity and make conscious effort to appreciate each other’s cultures and backgrounds. In any given company in America, you can find training teams conducting inclusion trainings, and openly discussion diverse work environments. Diversity has become a part of our culture, both in and outside of work, […]

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Resume action words

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You’ve heard it over and over again – a well-written resume is a winning resume. What does that mean? How can you determine whether your resume is written in a tone and style that employers will respond to? Synthesizing your educational achievements, years of your professional experience, and numerous qualifications you have acquired over the […]

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Designing your resume to grab employer’s attention

July 31, 2014

Job hunting can be one of the most exhilarating and yet one of the most agonizing experiences in your life. While you look forward to the new chapter in your professional life, finding a way to stand out from other candidates, who are at least equally qualified for the position you want, is a difficult […]

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3 ways to customize your resume to get the job that you want

July 31, 2014

While most resumes appear to look the same on the surface, there are key areas that differentiate well-written winning resumes from those that never make it into the hands of the hiring managers. To customize your resume for the job that you want, pay attention to the following three elements: resume style, career objective, and […]

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Avoid These Resume Mistakes!

July 24, 2014

It is a mistake to think of your resume as a history of your past, as a personal statement or as some sort of self expression. Sure, most of the content of any resume is focused on your job history. But write from the intention to create interest, to persuade the employer to call you. […]

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Handling the Education Section: New Graduates vs. Experienced Attorneys

July 24, 2014

When choosing a place for the education section of your resume, there are several things that need consideration: o Breadth of your experience o Professional accomplishments versus educational qualifications o School where you studied or obtained your most relevant degree New Graduates New graduates are not expected to have significant work experience, unless previously employed. […]

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Is the Cover Letter an Outdated Practice?

July 17, 2014

The role of a cover letter is to introduce the applicant to the recruiter and build an instant rapport. It also is a method to quickly highlight the best reasons why you feel you are best suited for the job opening. Looking at the cover letter from these angles, it looks like a good idea. […]

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Resume headings – what information to include and how to format it

July 17, 2014

The first and most prominent item on your resume if your name and contact information. Your name is typically in the largest font, standing apart from all other text on your resume. A common mistake professionals make is trying to emphasize their name in a special font type. As it is difficult to anticipate the […]

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