Cap, Gown, Diploma – Résumé?

By Peter Jenkins

Office Coordinator & Resume Expert, Drake & Company Staffing Specialists

Graduation Photo

So, you just proudly strutted across the stage and eagerly grabbed your hard earned college dipolma from a smiling dean. Congratuations! You worked for years to make it to this point and you accomplished a lot (and hopefully had fun along the way!). Now, unless you are going back to school to pursue yet another degree, you find yourself searching for a job. You know you need to sharpen your resume, but you probably do not have a lot of job experience to list on your resume. What can you do to make employers realize you have a lot to offer despite your lack of experience? Here are a few tips for you.

List your education near the top of your resume.

Your schooling has likely taken up most of your life for the past 2-5 years or so, and you want employers to see that you successfully completed your degree. If you had a strong GPA (3.2 or above), then list it. If you made the Dean’s List and/or earned a scholarship or departmental award, then make sure you mention it. You do not necessarily need to list all of your academic accomplishments, but you do want to list the highlights.

List college jobs and internships.

Employers are impressed when students also find the time to work part-time or full-time jobs. Even if the position was not related to your major and/or your future career plans, it is likely still worth listing because it displays your work ethic and your time management skills.

Include a key skills section instead of an objective or profile.

All resumes should include a skills section so that employers can get a snapshot view of your major strengths. Even though you may lack experience, you can still emphasize traits that employers value (i.e. communication skills, writing skills, customer service/sales skills, typing speed, software knowledge, ability to speak a foreign language, organizational skills, ability to multi-task and solve problems, loyalty, a team-first attitude, etc.).

Make sure your resume is grammatically perfect.

As a new graduate, you are trying to impress employers, and you cannot afford to have any small or large mistakes on your resume. Spell check is great, but you also need to read the resume out loud and have a friend review it as well. There are many types of embarrassing mistakes that spell check does not catch.

Write an enthusiastic (but not over the top) cover letter. Not all employers read cover letters, but many of them do, especially if they are on the fence about contacting your for an interview. Make sure that your cover letter highlights your educational and work accomplishments, but try not to appear too cocky or confident. You are likely applying for entry-level positions, so it’s important not to act like you are going to step in and run the company on day one. Do your research so that you know some facts about each company you apply to, and make sure that you change your cover letter a bit each time you send it out. Form cover letters look lazy and are a big turnoff for employers. The essence of your cover letter can stay the same, but you need to tweak it a bit depending on the job title and the specific industry.

There are many employers who love to hire new graduates, but they know that they can be picky because there are many more applicants than open positions. Finding that first post-college job (or even getting to the interview stage) is a lot easier if your resume is in good shape. Your resume speaks on your behalf when you are not in the room to state your case, so make sure that you do all you can to show employers that you can be an asset to them if given an opportunity.

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Web PLJ Photo 2Peter Jenkins is the Office Coordinator at Drake & Company Staffing Specialists, a staffing-firm based in Madison, WI. Drake & Company’s focus is on direct hire, temp-to-hire, and temporary hires in the administrative, clerical, and legal fields. For over 36 years, Drake & Company has reached beyond skills and qualifications to match a candidate’s personality to a company’s culture. The result is the right fit for your career or business. In addition to being Drake’s Office Coordinator, Peter is also the prinicipal writer for Drake & Company’s resume service. To send Peter an email, click .