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So, you’re a fresh college graduate, looking for your first job. You are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – and you need a professional resume that will help kick-start your career.
Resume writing experts are everywhere, each offering you an endless stream of resume writing tips and advice.
Let’s face it – writing your first-ever resume is a challenge. And figuring out which expert to listen to just adds to the confusion.
After all, this is a critical time in your life. Your first “real” job has the power to make or break your career.
To stand out, you must find a way to sell yourself. Yet, here comes the caveat – you don’t have any experience in your targeted field, so your selling points are not immediately obvious.
When you’re in this position, it’s important that your selling points are not only employment-related.
You can leverage all relevant information that may indicate to a potential employer that you have relevant skills, character traits and attributes to succeed in their organisation. This may include past casual jobs, sports achievements and club memberships.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before I talk about what to put on your first resume, let me begin by sharing with you a few ground rules of resume writing. Knowing these will help you craft a resume that gets attention (for all the right reasons).
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1. Resume Length.
Should your first resume be one page, two pages or more? Opinions of professional resume writers differ, and if you listen to each one you may never feel confident that you’re doing the right thing. Here’s my take on this issue – your resume should be as long as it needs to be to communicate its message.
Length is not as important as impact.
You may be able to tell a potential employer everything they need to know about you in under one page – and that’s perfectly OK. However, if you’ve had quite a few sporting, extra-curricular and work experience-related commitments, you may find that a longer resume is required.
Use your common sense.
2. Content Of Your First Resume.
You’re young. You don’t have much work experience under your belt. You fear that you don’t have enough selling points to fill even a quarter of a resume page. It’s not like you’ve had a stellar career with 7 jobs across 20 years, right?
I get it.
Most people who are writing resumes for the first time face this dilemma.
Here’s a little secret that resume writers don’t like to tell you – employers fully understand your situation, and don’t expect you to have a lot of work experience at your age.
However, they are interested in knowing what makes you different from your other classmates. It’s important to remember that employers don’t necessarily want to know about the activity you’ve done. Instead, they’re interested in how this activity could transfer to improved on-the-job performance.
Let me give you a few examples:
- Were you a school captain or a prefect? (Tell the employer about your leadership skills and ability to solve ‘people’ problems).
- Did you compete in any sports? (Tell the employer about the discipline and rigour you’ve had to develop in order to manage your sporting and school commitments).
- Did you study abroad? (Tell the employer about the flexibility and emotional intelligence you’ve had to develop to operate in another culture successfully).
- Do you like to play the violin? (Tell the employer about your innate sense of curiosity).
As you can see, it’s possible to construct an impressive first resume even if you don’t have any work experience to brag about.
3. Think Beyond Your Resume.
Here’s my final, and possibly most important, piece of advice for you: clean up your online presence.
It’s best to think of your social media accounts as an extension of your resume. You should fully expect potential employers to check them during the screening process, so make sure they contain no evidence of:
- Partying behaviour (no, they won’t be impressed by your 2am pub crawl)
- Revealing outfits
- Trolling of other internet users (there’s a difference between a debate and a trolling crusade – make sure you understand what it is)
- Ranting blog posts
- Any posts where you complain about anything
Writing your first resume can seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t need to be. If you follow the principles I’ve outlined in this post, you’ll be able to write a resume that helps you land your first job.
After you’ve implemented all of the tips in this guide, I suggest that you read this article to familiarise yourself with another 5 fundamental resume writing rules.
All the best in your career.