Writing Your First Resume

Whether you’re a recent graduate or preparing to leave your college days behind you, having a strong and well-written resume is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your future. The rules of resume writing have evolved, and the Dos and Don’ts of your parents’ day don’t all apply anymore.

When writing your first professional resume, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Rules to Stick To

1. The One Page Rule – It is important that your resume not exceed one page, especially at this juncture of your career. Employers have stacks of resumes to sift through, and you don’t want to be the one that sticks out as “difficult to read.” Keep all your information absolutely essential – if you’re applying for a job in marketing, your high school job as a babysitter or Pee Wee Football coach have no place on your resume.
2. Skills and Qualifications – There is some dissention about this one in the corporate world, but if you’re just coming out of college, it doesn’t hurt to summarize your special skills and strengths in a few concise bullets. Any talents you picked up in certain classes or old jobs that are relevant to the field you’re entering can be placed here.
3. Brag, but Be Honest – Your resume is not the place to be shy or humble. Feel free to list accomplishments such as academic awards or promotions in your internships, as long as you have the space to spare AND the information is relevant to your professionalism or talent. Record your key working duties, write appropriate titles for positions you’ve held, and be sure to include successes you are proud of.
4. Be Consistent and Organized – Your format, dates, and bullets should be consistent throughout the document. Instead of full sentences, write strongly-worded bullet points to describe your experience. This will save space and allow hiring managers to find the information they’re looking for more quickly. Double check your dates, list them all in the same format, and do the same with the rest of your information. You want your resume to be readable and accessible, so use bold or italics where appropriate and let your document be easy to navigate.
5. Objective – This is another component some hiring managers disagree on. Well into your career, you can nix the objective section, but fresh out of college, it helps to have a line or two describing the kind of work you are looking for. Because your experience is limited, including an objective gives hiring managers a better idea of your career goals. Be general, but not vague – you don’t want to lock yourself out of opportunities with an objective that reads as too specific or not specific enough.

New Rules

1. Convert to PDF – Since most resumes are submitted online now, it helps to convert your resume into a PDF document. This way, none of the formatting is lost and hiring managers will read your resume exactly as you wrote it. A quick Internet search will show you how to convert.
2. References – Years ago, it was encouraged that you include references with your resume, or to write “References available upon request” at the bottom. Now, it’s a waste of a line. Ditto writing, designing, or other work samples. Hiring managers know to ask you for references or work samples if they require them. You can, however, touch upon this in your cover letter if you wish.

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