By Mary Jo King, NCRW, NCOPE

There is a wealth of advice out there for graduates writing their first professional résumé, but not all of it is valuable. Do not try to fit your skill set into a canned template; there is no single “best” format for grads. You are an individual, with unique qualifications to offer.

Here are some guidelines to developing a résumé that will set you apart from your peers.

1. Skip the job objective, and replace it with a headline that simply announces your career field.

2. If you have employment history of merit, begin with a summary of qualifications that reflects both your education and your employment background. This approach separates you from those who have no real-world experience to offer.

3. If you have no employment history, begin your résumé with your education. List courses that are relevant to your career target. This can be critical for applicant tracking system (ATS) score value. Don’t forget to highlight internships, special projects, honors, and high GPA.

4. Include volunteer activities, professional licenses, and certifications.

7. Worry less about length and more about keyword-rich content. Employers don’t care how long your résumé is; they care about readability. Keep your format simple and clean, with a fair amount of “white space”. 

Finally, DO look elsewhere in my blog for more information about cover letters, job search techniques, ATS, follow-up, social media, and more. And remember, a well-written résumé will shorten your job search considerably.  A poor résumé, combined with poor job search techniques, may have you living in your parent’s basement for the foreseeable future.


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