This is a question asked thousands of times every year across the country: “How do I put together a great resume when I’ve only just graduated from college?” The overly simple answer is that you do it the same way you would if you had been in the workforce for 25 years. It’s not that simple when you have little to no work experience, but it can be done in a slick and professional manner. When in doubt, hire an expert resume writer to help you. It will be money well spent in the long run.
Hopefully, you obtained some work, volunteer or internship experience while in college. It’s important to remember that experience doesn’t have to have been paid to count. Many new graduates incorrectly assume that if they were not paid during the internship or for volunteer service that it doesn’t count. The reality is that everything counts. An internship, especially one in your field, is every bit as valuable to a potential employer. Volunteer work as well.
The most important thing to remember is that a potential employer is looking for someone who is a team player, will be great to work with and has the skills to do the job. They do not care how you got those skills. Employers also want to hire people who have been in real work environments before.
Following a few common sense tips and ideas will make it possible for you to create a great resume and land a job that is right for you.
The experience problem is one that many new graduates and those reentering the workforce both face. Not only do employers want experience, they want recent experience. No one is more desired than one who is already trained and already working. When you are looking for a job from a position of unemployment, then you have to make yourself seem even more desirable than the other candidates.
But how do you get experience when no one will give you a job so you can get experience? One way of doing this is to volunteer. No, you will not get paid but many volunteer opportunities lead to jobs and they can certainly lead to contacts. More importantly, they are something to put on your resume under ‘experience’ and that is a category that needs to be completed.
No matter how much education you have, no matter how impressive your degrees or your university, experience trumps all of that. When including volunteer work you don’t have to specify that it was volunteer unless asked. It’s quite easy to calculate how much your position as a volunteer was worth by exploring one of the online salary calculators.
Another way to get experience is as an unpaid intern. Few companies are going to turn away someone who is qualified and wants to work for free even if it is only part time. The bonus in this is that not only will you gain experience and networking contacts, you could also land a job. If a position in your area opens up the company is going to be more inclined to hire someone who already knows the job and how the company itself operates.
There are ways around the lack of experience issue. It just requires a little creativity and ingenuity.
Picking your references is a very important part of your resume, yet many people do not take them into proper consideration. Your references are important for potential employers to get an opinion of you from someone other than yourself. This means that the references you choose to put on your resume need to be competent, reliable, respectable, and trustworthy sources who your potential employers will listen to and respect their opinions of you. This also means that you want to pick people who will talk about you in a good way. Below are some ideas that may help you decide who to pick for your references and who to avoid.
- Teachers/Professors–New Graduates or College Students: Teachers or professors that you have a good relationship with and who you have done good work for are a great option for references because they get to see your work, but they also can see how you work with other people. However, do not pick teachers that have not seen your academic work. Art and music teachers may have been good friends and teachers, but they do not get to see your writing, computer skills, or other skills that are applicable to your job. This can be ignored if your field of work is applicable to art or music.
- Direct Supervisors/Managers– Professionals: Direct supervisors are a good choice to put down for a reference. They are able to see how you work while also being reliable and respectable people due to the nature of your relationship with them. Avoid putting supervisors as references if you have had major difficulties with them.
These are both excellent types of people to put as references. They will give the type of recommendation that you want without being biased due to familial connection or long term friendship.
Getting a job is hard. It is even harder when you have just graduated and have little or no work experience. In this case your education and your skills will say more to your potential employers than your small amount of work experience.
The skills you gain at a job are very useful in other jobs and therefore are good to put on your resume, but what about the skills you have gained while at school? Well, there are many that are just as useful in the work field and you should let your potential employers know that you have those skills. Here are some examples of skills that will help improve your resume:
- Computer Skills: Knowing how to use a computer is pretty much a necessity nowadays. Luckily, you can learn those computer skills at most schools and therefore you can put those skills on your resume. It will make your employer’s life easier if they don’t have to teach you the basics of computers when they hire you.
- Teamwork and Leadership Skills: Whether you were on a sports team, student council, choir, band, or involved in theater, you probably gained some very good skills in working with other people and being a leader. This is important because you will be working with all sorts of new people and eventually leading people and the fact that you know how to work with and lead people is important to your potential employers.
- Various Field Specific Skills: Depending on what you are applying for you may have some skills that are more specific to that job. That will be up to you to decide which skills are applicable and helpful in landing the job.
Now you have an idea of what skills you have and which ones you can bring to the table even with little or no work experience.
Many college students join the Greek systems on their campus for housing, a meal plan and a place to socialize. Some also realize that it is a great way to build a professional network before they have to start the job search process at the end of their college years. Even if you are long out of school and in what career development theorists call the “maintenance stage” of your career, you should still put your Greek affiliation on your resume.
Fraternity and sorority membership benefits go way beyond building a professional network. Your affiliation helps reach out to hiring managers who have either been a member themselves or who know the value of participation in the Greek system. This could be the tipping point in your favor for getting that first interview. The Greek bond of fraternity brothers or sorority sisters may be enough to get a hiring manager to want to help you.
Greek system participation on your resume is a plus because it demonstrates that you know about teamwork. Many Greek organizations also participate in public service projects or what is known as philanthropic work. This shows your willingness to volunteer and give back to your community.
Get involved with the alumni group associated with your Greek chapter. Look for all of the places your alumni group may have networks set-up-your alumni association, Facebook or even on LinkedIn. People often feel uncomfortable networking with friends and colleagues with whom they have not spoken in many years. However, these types of alumni groups are set up to make networking easy. They also give an opportunity to help the active student chapters on campus, giving you more public service points on your resume.