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Applying for Your First Job? Here's How to Craft a Standout Resume

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Staring at a blank screen is no fun, but that shouldn't be the case when it comes to resume writing. If you've completed college, worked a part-time job, or have an internship under your belt, you likely have far more experience than you realize. Here's how to craft a professional resume that focuses on skills and experience (don't worry about previous job titles) to help you land your first dream job.

Download a resume template

This is the easy part and there are plenty of free options for every field. Find a template that is sleek and modern, and highlights your career goals. Experts advise that new grads focus on related work, and therefore should opt for a creative design that clearly bullets out skills and goals as opposed to a chronological format.

Detail your internships

Recruiters and hiring managers often look for internships first when scanning the resumes of recent grads. Even if you'd held down a part-time job for several years, as noted above, list applicable work experience, like internships, first.

Be specific. Use action verbs to highlight the most important parts of the experience. Not sure what these should be? Look at how companies list job openings in your field and use this language as a guide you. For example, if you spent part of the internship creating presentations, proofing documents or writing code, put these types of transferable skills high on the list. Leave off the coffee runs!

List out skills from part-time jobs

Did you spend two years as a customer service associate as a big box store? This might not feel like it's relevant to list out if you are applying for your first job in, say, marketing or web design, but think carefully about the responsibilities and where you gained proficiency. If you dealt with customers all day, it's likely you had to think on your feet and make proactive decisions or resolve problems. Perhaps you managed schedules and were responsible for training new employees. These are the types of skills your new managers will want to see as opposed to ringing up customers or stocking merchandise.

Note volunteer experience

Related to best practices on how to speak about part-time jobs, be sure to list volunteer activities, but focus on high-level skills. No need to bullet out how you stuffed envelopes, however, managing a donor database or being responsible for a budget not only highlight professional aptitude, but also demonstrate a level of responsibility that can set you apart from other recent grads.

Refine your professional online presence

Facebook and Snapchat are fine for friends (or in some cases might be notable for creative fields) but for the rest of us, LinkedIn is the networking destination of choice. Here's where you can list out professional accomplishments, network with others in your desired field, and join groups, from professional development to technical tips, to fast-track your job search. And don't forget a professional headshot. It's also important to have a professional presence so that when hiring managers and recruiters search your name, this is one of the first items they'll find (the LinkedIn site has serious SEO power).

When it comes to what to leave off your resume, skip over personal social media accounts, unrelated work experience if you can't think of transferable skills, and excessively long descriptions.

References

About the Author

Kristin Amico is a career and business writer who spent more than a decade managing creative teams at digital agencies. She has written for The Muse, The Independent and USA Today.