Resumes to Get Your First Job After College

There’s an excellent article posted on The New Talent Times, a Software Advice blog, that details what hiring managers are looking for in new grads.

What’s stated may surprise you.

Let’s take their preferences one at a time:

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Does the New Grad Have a Definite Goal?

In other words, do you know what you want to do post graduation? If you don’t, that will reflect strongly in your resume. Unfortunately, many graduates believe that all they have to do is list their academic information and their professional experience, if any, and companies will come calling, wanting them to interview. Preferably for a major position.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The job of a hiring manager or recruiter is to find the ideal talent for the company. It’s not to determine what you want to do with your life. If you haven’t a clue, they won’t either. Therefore, the information in your resume’s opening summary must align very closely with the position’s requirements. You must show that you have the skills and knowledge, and perhaps the experience, to do the work. If you want the job, that’s your goal.

Did You Challenge Yourself During School?

If you took the easiest coursework and did the bare minimum of what was required to graduate, you won’t be at the top of anyone’s list. Past performance is predictive of future performance. Hiring managers know that anyone who was lazy in school will be lazy on the job. Therefore, beef up your academics and any extracurricular activities that can further your goal. Then list them on your resume.

Do You Have Long- and Short-Term Goals?

You should and they need to be clear in your resume’s opening summary. However, you don’t want to make them an objective. For example: “Looking for a fast-paced, challenging position in Information Technology, where I can increase my knowledge.” Your objective should be to make the company money or save it money. Show how you can do that in your qualifications summary and you’ll be invited to interview.

Do You Have Solid Work Experience?

If you worked at your parent’s company filing and answering phones during the summer, that’s not going to impress. Having a real job (eg: retail, restaurant work, customer service) shows you have what it takes to reach your goal. These aren’t easy positions. Did you use what you earned to pay for school? Mention it. That’s the kind of determination hiring managers want to see.

Who are Your Role Models?

Was there a professor who made the coursework come alive for you? Did someone mentor you during school? Although it’s not appropriate to mention these individuals on a resume, you can speak of them in your cover letter. More importantly, if they’re willing to recommend you, ask for a brief quote that you can include in your cover letter.

Do You Have What it Takes to Stick with the Job?

The open position may be no more than a stepping stone for you, but for the hiring manager and company, it’s business. They don’t want to hire someone who’s only go to be there a couple of months. Therefore, it’s important that your resume doesn’t scream job-hopper. If you kept looking for the perfect part-time position in college, one that was fun, rather than work, it will be obvious to the hiring manager, and you won’t be called in to interview.

Resumes are all about showcasing your brand and your expertise as it pertains to the targeted job. Hiring managers know what they want in a candidate. Now you know that too. When crafting a resume, keep the above tips in mind. They’ll make your job search that much easier.