Writing a resume is hard, and it’s not something that is often taught in school, so it’s okay to feel overwhelmed about how to write your first resume and where to start.
When you’re figuring out how to write your first resume, it is important to figure out what you want to gain from the document. What are you going to use it for? Will you be applying to higher education programs, internships, or jobs? Your resume will differ substantially depending on what you will be using it for, so it’s crucial to figure this out before getting started. Next, you’ll want to gather your information.
Start With the Basics
When you’re figuring out what information to include on a resume, start with the basics. You should always create a header with your contact information including your phone number, email address, and location. Just include your city and state; no need to write down your exact address. If you do have a personal website, include that as well, but do not include the link to your LinkedIn profile. If you’re using LinkedIn correctly, you will be easily searchable, so there’s no need to add the direct link on your resume.
List Your Skills
Putting your skills at the top of the document immediately increases the effectiveness of your resume. Recruiters look at each resume for an average of six seconds each. That means you have six seconds to show that you are qualified and what you can bring to the table. When you put your skills matrix up at the top, this shows the reader exactly what you have to offer and highlights that you are qualified for the position right off the bat. The quicker you grab someone’s attention and persuade them that you’re the right candidate for the position, the more likely you’ll be to get past the initial influx of applicants.
Gather Your Employment Information
When you’re starting to write your first resume, you might not have traditional employment information. If you do have traditional work experience, gather your dates of employment, (month and year) job description, projects you worked on, and any additional information you can include like how many people you worked with.
As a new graduate, no one expects you to have a lot of work experience; however, potential employers do want to see any volunteer work, side projects, and/or internships you’ve had. If you need to beef up your resume, even more, include information about relevant school projects you worked on. This will help highlight your ability to work on a given project under constraints and will help highlight your relevant industry knowledge.
If you’re listing class projects on your resume, use the school name in place of the company name, and include something along the lines of “[Class Title] Project Manager,” “Student Project Manager,” or “[Class Title] Student” in place of a job title.
Gather specific metrics and achievements for each role
The key to a great resume is highlighting exactly what you’ve achieved and what you can bring to a new position. This is not the place to include a general job description that can be used for anyone with that job title.
Try to answer these questions for each role you put on your resume:
• What did you do at this role?
•How many people did you work with or manage?
•What kind of projects did you work on?
•What were the results of those projects?
This will help ensure that your resume immediately reflects your achievements and what you can bring to the table. Anyone can say that they’re great at their job, but very few people can actually show it. When you’re noting your achievements, think about how you can quantify what you’ve done.
Gather your education information
Unless it is your highest level of education or you are in your first year of college, do not include information about your high school diploma. Similarly, there is no need to include GPA unless you’re currently in school and have a very high GPA (3.8 or above).
When it comes to listing education, start with the highest level of education at the top and list backward from there. For example:
•High School information
*Include certifications and specialized training
When you’re learning how to write your first resume as a new graduate, certifications and specialized training make a huge difference. Even if you don’t have specific certifications but you’ve had internal training, taken an online course, or even just an online tutorial, include that in your resume.
For example, you can take some online tutorials and training sessions on QuickBooks or Adobe Photoshop via YouTube and list that as specialized training. As long as the training gives you an advantage and further educates you on a subject, you can list it on your resume.
If you’re struggling with how to write your first resume, relax. You’re not alone! Writing a resume is hard, and it’s often something that people are forced to learn on their own. Just take it one step at a time, gather the required information, and go from there!
When in doubt, you can always hire a professional to help!
A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume, style, and boost your confidence.
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