Congratulations! You’ve graduated college and you’re off on your next adventure of finding a new job in your chosen career field. Mom and dad told you that if you went to college and earned a degree you would find a job, be happy in your career, and earn a good living. You did the smart thing by following their advice and now you are expecting to reap the rewards of your efforts with the help of a great resume.
The truth is that once upon a time, a degree under the Education section at the top of a resume was all that was required to enter a chosen field and build a career for oneself, but the economy has changed and the job market has too―it’s more competitive than ever before.
While I don’t want to be a killjoy and dash your hopes of landing a great job, I do want to help you gain the proper perspective as you begin writing your new resume. Our country is in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The cold hard truth is that there may be hundreds of candidates vying for the same job as you, and some of these candidates may be experienced professionals applying for entry-level positions because they are so desperate to find a job.
Okay, so enough of the doom and gloom, now that you know what you’re up against, it’s time to learn how to beat out the competition and win interviews. Yes, that’s right; I said win interviews, because that’s what you’re going to have to do, win! It is important to remember that hiring managers are interested in identifying candidates that have the skills and abilities to do the job, and do it well. True, the degree is an important part of the equation, but that in and of itself, will not win you job interviews.
To win interviews the Education section of your resume is going to have to tell a story about your college career. If you want to make your education stand out in your resume you have to pull out all the ammunition in your education arsenal. Whatever you do, don’t short cut this very important step on your resume. Take your time and do it right so that employers can see that you have the skills and abilities to do the job.
Tip 1: If you are a recent college graduate, list the month and year you graduated in brackets beside the school name and location. If you have not yet graduated list the month and year of anticipated graduation.
Tip 2: List your degree emphasis or minor if it relates to the position you’re applying for, e.g., Minor: Finance, if you are applying for a job in the financial sector.
Tip 3: If you excelled in college with an above average GPA of 3.1 or greater than include this information in brackets beside your degree type. This demonstrates your ability to learn and excel.
Tip 4: If you graduated with honors, say so. If you made Dean’s List say so. Listing your accomplishments In school shows that you know how to set goals and achieve them. Remember that in the minds of hiring managers; past achievements are a predictor of your future successes.
Tip 5: Review your transcripts and see how your coursework stacks up against the job announcement. Once you have identified commonalities, create a subsection of your Education section titled Relevant Coursework. This list will show that you are well prepared for the job while making your resume keyword searchable in applicant tracking systems.
Tip 6: Think back to specific projects that you completed while in college. It doesn’t matter whether they were group projects or individual projects as long as they relate to experience you gained in your college career and are relevant to your job target. List three projects and briefly outline the project scope and outcome. This demonstrates your ability to apply what you’ve learned in the real world.
Tip 7: Think about extra-curricular activities you participated in while you were in school. Were you part of any academic professional associations? Part of a winning sports team? Did you serve on any special committees? If so, be sure to list these activities on your resume and briefly describe your personal contributions.
Tip 8: Did you participate in an exchange program? If so, what country? What did you study there? How long did you live abroad? Did you learn a foreign language? This type of experience is valuable in today’s global business environment, so list it in your resume.
Tip 9: Were you selected by your professor as a research assistant? Did you complete an internship or externship? If so, list these in the Professional Experience section of your resume. Include the name of the school and/or organization, dates you were in the role, your title, your responsibilities, and what you accomplished.
Tip 10: If you worked full-time while in school and do not have an extensive college career story, consider adding a statement to your resume that speaks to your work ethic. A simple sentence is all you need, such as: Worked full-time to pay for 100% of college tuition and living expenses. Consider what this statement tells hiring managers about your personal character.
If you’re reading this article while you are in school, it is not too late to build your college career story. Jump in with both feet and accomplish as much as you possibly can while you are still in school. After all, it is accomplishments that will make your education stand out and win you interviews for that highly coveted dream job. As always, best wishes in your career endeavors.