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Career Centre

Choose your path to success

Resume Writing Guide for Graduates: Key Strategies for Success

Your resume is your key selling point, and a way to introduce yourself to potential employers. A good resume includes background information related to your education, work experience and skills. As you graduate and begin looking for jobs, use the following key strategies to create a resume that stands out.

✔️Keep It Simple

A resume should only be one page with a cover letter when applicable. There’s no need for big words or flowery phrases. Recruiters often sift through hundreds of resumes to find the right candidate. Give them the relevant information in a simple, concise way.

📄Emphasize Your Human Skills

If you didn’t work while in school, it’s hard to come up with relevant work experience to include on a resume. At this point, you’re asking a recruiter to take a chance on you, and one way to emphasize who you are is through soft skills.

These can include influence, vision, communication, social and emotional intelligence, critical thinking and partnering. These skills are transferable across jobs and industries, and show your ability to work with others and self-motivate.

👩‍💼Summarize Your Qualifications

Put a paragraph at the top of your resume that summarizes your qualifications. This paragraph changes from job to job and directly addresses the needs outlined in the job description. Write in short, simple sentences and show you’re qualified to fill the needs of the company.

🔑Search for Keywords

To sort through the large number of resumes that come for each job posting, companies use applicant tracking systems. This software identifies keywords and skills in a resume.

Look through the job description for keywords. Include those words in your resume to ensure you make it through the applicant tracking system. Resumes without the right keywords may be skipped, even if you are highly qualified.

ℹ️  Only Include Sections You Need

Most resumes include a section for education, work history and other relevant skills. If this information isn’t relevant to you, leave it out. For example, if you didn’t work while in college, leave out the work experience section and instead focus on relevant coursework or activities you’re involved in that qualify you for the job. These can be extracurricular projects, internships or other academic achievements. A good rule of thumb is to eliminate or combine any section that has less than two bullet points.

📈Highlight Unique Qualities

How are you different than the other candidates? What unique abilities and experiences do you bring to the company? A resume is simply an advertisement for a product: you. If you are faster, more profitable or better at something in your field, highlight that in your resume in an easy-to-find way.

🔦Research Profiles

Before you apply for any job, you must do your research on the company and the people you want to work for. Check the website for information about the employees and what the company values. Consider the position you’re applying for, and search professional websites like LinkedIn to find individuals who have similar jobs. Model your resume after their profiles while still highlighting what makes you unique. Talk about your accomplishments at other jobs more than your responsibilities. Avoid creating a resume that sounds like a job description for a previous job.

📰Compare Your Resume to Others

When building a resume, search for example resumes from your industry. In those, you’ll find best practices and inspiration. Look for important metrics, the length of each section and how to simplify your resume. Readability is key when it comes to creating a resume.

❗️  Focus on the Most Relevant Information

As you build your resume, put the most relevant information first. Put this on the top third of the document as it is what the hiring manager will see first. It also functions as a hook to catch attention and encourage people to keep reading. If your most relevant work experience isn’t your most recent, consider opening yours with a skills section in the form of a resume summary or a hybrid format.

📪Link to Your Work

Do you have an online portfolio or website that highlights your work? Include relevant links in any digital format. If you have social media accounts that are business-related, similar to those on LinkedIn, link directly to them. This allows a recruiter to do a deeper dive into your personality and determine what makes you the ideal candidate for the job.

⚙️Avoid Elements That Computers Can’t Read

Along with the applicant tracking systems, companies may use other software to filter resumes. When writing your resume, consider the fact that these programs can’t read the following:

  • Columns that go from top to bottom
  • Unique fonts
  • Footers and headers
  • Images, photos, logos and icons
  • Tables or text boxes
  • Graphs, graphics or additional visuals

Make your resume easy to read with a simple design and bullet points, but don’t do anything too fancy, as the software may reject it before a recruiter has even seen it.

📞Highlight Contact Information

Make it easy for a recruiter to get ahold of you. If they want to schedule an interview, the last thing they want to do is dig for your information. Put your business email address and phone number in a prominent place on your resume, as well as your pronouns if you choose. Never use an email from another job, and be careful using a student email, as it may expire after graduation.

🚰Don’t Overthink It

You know the most about your experience and education, and how you’ll benefit the company. It’s easy to overthink a resume. Pare down the information to the best parts of you and your training. Sell yourself in a simple way, with confidence rather than arrogance. Use the relevant tips listed here to help you create a document that highlights why you are the best candidate, even if you’re just graduating.


Author of the text: Katie Price