The earlier you start your job search, the better. Whether you’re an anxious senior or a graduate teetering on the line of hopeful and hopeless, all emotions are fair game. Finding a job feels impossible at times and is an incredibly daunting thought
– trust me, I know. The best time to start looking was yesterday, but since you can’t do that you might as well start today.
So. There are a few “First Things First” items to check off of your Job Search List. Let’s start with the resume, and the prelude this valuable piece of paper. Several months ago I took a class through Udemy, a website with online courses taught via PowerPoint, titled “Find Me a Job: How to Score a Job Before All Your Friends.” Taught by Heather Huhman, it showed me everything I needed to know about, well, getting a job.
A quick plug for Udemy… check ‘em out. While some classes can be expensive each one is thorough, and coupons for a certain percent off any class flutter into your inbox every so often. Just peruse for a minute or two. Definitely worth the minute… or two, or twenty.
Huhman is all about lists which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed her class so much. She emphasizes three lists in her class, two of which I think are extremely valuable: a list of skills and a list with characteristics all about you.
Coming up with positive words about yourself can be strange so ask your friends, family, professors and co-workers how they would describe you. You’ll be surprised at how different and flattering some of their answers will be. Nothing’s wrong with a confidence booster in the name of getting a job, right?
Now you have two lists, covered in words and phrases all about you. How did these skills and characteristics come to be? Huhman believes at least a few should have some story behind them, stories that can be used on your resume and in interviews too. Perhaps after creating a Facebook page for an organization you’re involved in, you gained social media experience both in coming up with interesting content as well as online interaction.
Take some time creating these lists and the stories accompanying them. The extra effort makes resume building that much easier.
The resume is a story for potential employers proving why you are a necessary addition to their company. There is a fine line between a good and a bad resume, and endless online articles with in-depth explanations for each. A few of my favorites are listed at the end of this article. Everyone loves an interesting story – try to make yours the talk of the office.
Typically a resume is broken down into five categories:
Name and contact information
Skills and traits
With the exception of your name and contact information, each heading has several alternatives for you to work with.
A quick note… before you begin formatting pick a sans-serif font that is legible, and never use smaller than a size 10-pt. font.
Name and Contact Information:
This serves as the header to any resume. Your name should be easy to find so hiring managers can easily recognize your outstanding resume in a pile of mediocre other ones. Below – and all on one line – is your address, email and phone number. Separate each with a symbol such as this “|” or “” to make everything organized and easy to read.
Formatting this section can be a little confusing, but the most important things to list are:
Degree (Bachelor of Arts/Science): Major(s)
Emphasis (if any)
University – Location
Expected Graduation: Month, Year
If you have any honors be sure to include those as well, potentially between your emphasis and the university you attended/are attending.
A common misconception when it comes to resumes is that all past professional experience should be listed. Sure, your resume may be filled from top to bottom but for potential employers, irrelevant positions aren’t important. Certain internships and experiences will pertain to almost any position you apply for; as for the rest, pick and choose what relates to the job description and/or company.
Here is where volunteer work, clubs and organizations, conferences etc. can be named. Only add a club or organization if you held a leadership position or were/are a national member.
Skills and Traits:
Refer to the lists you created to fill this area, and be prepared to discuss each when meeting in an interview.
Everyone always asks about references on a resume. Impress a company with your resume and you’ll leave them wanting more. What I’m trying to say is if they are interested in you, they will ask for a list of references. Guaranteed.
Below is an example of my personal resume. The intro underneath my name is a modern take on the objective, I suppose – just a few short sentences describing me that will potentially catch an employer’s eye.
Starting the job search is a lot like starting college. There are so many classes to take, and we wonder how in the world one person could ever get so much done. The number of opportunities available after graduating from college is endless, no matter how good or bad the economy is. Unlike courses in college the real world requires job applications, cover letters, resumes, social media presence and more to prove your worth in the company. Start with a knockout resume and you’re on your way to making a knockout first impression, too.
As promised, here are a few of my favorite resume-related articles…
What Recruiters Look at During the 6 Seconds They Spend on Your Resume
10 Horrifying, Overused Resume Words and Phrases
7 Tips to Streamline Your Resume Lingo