7 Resume Tips for Your First Job Search

 

Land your dream job.

Recent grads are as crucial to the workforce as their more seasoned counterparts because they bring an element of innovation to the cubicle. But with little experience to show for it, it can be tough to craft a resume that stands out from the abyss that is the slush pile.

For years, our parents drilled into our heads that the key to scoring a lucrative job after graduation is maintaining strong grades. But as industries become more concerned with candidates in the holistic sense, an A grade in chem from a name brand school isn’t going to cut it if can't apply that knowledge outside the classroom. “It’s really refreshing to be at a place like Facebook where it boils down to skills. We recruit at almost 300 schools. Are we Ivy League-focused? Absolutely not. Can you demonstrate that you can get the job done?” says Liz Wamai, director of recruiting at Facebook, who will be speaking at Glassdoor's Best Places to Work Tour on February 27, which you can watch for live for free here.

What’s more is that as the workforce shrinks, competition grows. The catch? Devising a resume that sticks out. Here, tips to score that interview — and someday, that corner office.

Nail down the formula

Let’s get the basics out of the way. If you’re starting from scratch, here’s what you need to know: Include your name, contact information, and email. Begin with a summary of skills and work experience, then list your current role down to your oldest, even if they fall under academics. Provide enough detail under each role in bullet point form using enough industry key words to get through the screening process.

Keep in mind that a resume is a conversation starter, says Liz. It should pique the hiring manager’s interest enough that they want to engage in a dialogue with you during the interview. Spill all the beans on paper and you might fall flat in person.

Be strategic

You only have about a page with adequate white space (and two seconds of the hiring manager’s time!) to command attention. While omitting certain relevant work experience can be construed as lying, you have to be discriminating in what you include for the sake of properly tailoring your resume. Glassdoor career expert Scott Dobrowski says you’re under no obligation to list every job you have ever held if it doesn’t tie back to the position in question, as long as it doesn’t leave a large gap in your work history. “Leaving off background information that isn’t relevant is fine, but you should never pad a resume or list skills you don’t actually possess. Lying on your resume can have far bigger implications than leaving off your stint as a cashier at the mall,” he says.

Use numbers

It’s time to pull out the calculator or gain access to an analytics tracker. Anyone can say they increased sales or engagement. Only through metrics can employers gauge what sort of tangible contributions you’ll make to their company, according Liz. While soft skills like strong interpersonal and organizational skills are an asset in any industry, they aren’t quantifiable.

Get a proofreader

You might whisk the hiring manager off their feet with your detailed professional history, but all credibility goes out the window when you introduce grammar, punctuation, style, and formatting errors, says Scott. “Everyone makes errors in job applications, not just grads. Thankfully, mistakes can be easily fixed with some additional attention to detail. The biggest thing is to double check your resume and have a second set of eyes review as well,” says Scott. “This simple step can highlight any errors and also has the benefit of getting another opinion on word phrasing that could help take your resume to another level.”

Leave out references

Getting a job is part what you know, part who you know. But Liz says it might be time to put the “references available upon request” formality to bed. It eats up a whole line of your resume, and it’s a given at this point. Only will they ask for references if they need to clarify anything ambiguous about your application.

Be interesting

All work and no play makes for a bleak work environment. Be sure to include your interests that shed insight into the type of person you are on the weekends, and tie them back to the role you’re applying for. For a graphic design position, don’t leave out vintage comic book collecting where you might derive artistic inspiration.

But not too interesting

Ah, so many rules! While Liz says it’s definitely eye-catching to receive a gimmicky application (think, a mini doc or resume printed on a coffee mug), it can send the message you’re unable to follow basic directions. This isn’t true across the board, however — if the role calls for some serious out-of-the-box thinking, go ahead and pull out all of the stops. At Facebook, for example, the massive volume of applicants means all submissions go through the website to streamline the process.

Be your own champion

Generally speaking, many of us would be lying if we listed “self-promotion” under our skills section. “Women tend to be much more conservative, and I’ve seen this,” says Liz. “When you look at her resume, and then sit down and talk to her and start probing her, you go ‘Why didn’t you add that to your resume?’ If in doubt, double check with someone who works at the company.”

Here’s a little-known hiring secret: Liz says to apply for a job, you don’t necessarily need to check off all the boxes on the job listing. What’s posted is their “preferred” or ideal candidate. You’re not out of the running because you’re a year or two off from desired years of experience or lacking in proficiency in a single computer program.

To get over any potential awkwardness, pretend you’re referring someone you deeply admire to the job, and you’re putting in the best word possible to ensure they get hired. Eventually, you’ll be able to apply that mindset to yourself.

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