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A resume provides employers with an overview of a candidate’s qualifications. It typically showcases relevant work experience, skills, education, and accomplishments. But if you’re just about to set foot on your first job, what qualifications can you put on your resume? Tricky, right? Don’t worry. This article will give you tips on how to create an interview-winning resume even if you’re fresh out of college.
1) Use a professional summary
A professional summary acts as a pitch for your resume. It communicates who you are and what you can bring to the table. For entry-level professionals with limited experience, the content should focus on academic projects, internships, or volunteer work. Avoid using an objective statement as this shifts the focus from the employer to the candidate, making it less effective. To give you a clearer picture of how they differ, let us show you some examples.
Cybersecurity graduate seeking an entry-level position in a reputable organization to expand my learnings, knowledge, and skills.
Professional Summary Example
Self-motivated and analytical Cybersecurity Professional with internship experience in mitigating security gaps and cyber threats. Equipped with excellent communication skills to clearly present complex technical concepts to diverse audiences. Highly organized professional with the capacity to manage multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment. Possess strong critical thinking skills to analyze and resolve problems at both strategic and functional levels.
The objective example above mentioned the candidate’s career goal. On the other hand, the second example conveyed what the candidate has to offer. If you’re the recruiter, which introduction do you think will capture your attention better?
2) Highlight Education
For recent graduates, education is typically placed before the professional experience section. It should include the name of the institution, degree, and years attended. If you graduated with honors or had a high GPA, it’s a good idea to feature that on your resume. We also recommend adding coursework, organizations, and extracurricular activities. These details can help you further strengthen your candidacy. Here is an example of what it looks like.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, 2018 – 2021
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Relevant Coursework: Computer Coding, Networking, Cryptography, Cyber Vulnerability Testing, Penetration Testing, Ethical Hacking
Honors & Awards: GPA: 4.0, Dean’s List
3) Document experiences earned during studies
In the professional experience section, you can include past relevant activities you’ve done while studying. You can mention internships, part-time jobs, or even volunteer work. When writing your job descriptions, we recommend using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format. It uses a brief professional storytelling structure that includes your primary task, the key steps you took to accomplish the job, and the outcome of your work. Include numbers to quantify your accomplishments.
Supported digital transformation project (situation/task); utilized Python to automate manual, repetitive tasks (action); improved employee productivity and efficiency by 45% (result)
4) Keep both ATS and human decision-makers in mind
Your application will typically go through different stages of the hiring process. When you submit your application online, your resume will be pre-screened by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before a recruiter reviews it. ATS is software used by many companies to make their hiring process more efficient. To ensure your resume will be read and processed correctly, you need to consider both the ATS and human decision-makers when writing your resume. Below are some of the key points that can help your application stand out to both ATS and human readers.
- Utilize a simple format and template.
- Use ATS-friendly fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Helvetica, and Verdana.
- Avoid using headers and footers, as they often get interspersed with the main body of text.
- Don’t use tables and columns as the ordering of sentences may not be what you expect.
- Use industry-standard job titles and resume sections.
- Submit your resume in Word format.
5) Keep the content short and concise
One page is the recommended resume length for entry-level professionals. Make the content as concise as possible while still conveying your worth. You don’t need to list everything you did during your study. Read and understand the job description to determine the relevant skills and competencies the employer is looking for. Then, include only the details that match the job requirements.
6) Proofread the document
Errors such as typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or inconsistencies can make your resume appear rushed and unprofessional. Such an impression may lessen your chances of being considered for an interview. So before submitting your resume, make sure to proofread the content. Below are some tips on how you can ensure an error-free document.
- Perform a manual spell and grammar check by reading the content multiple times.
- Use writing assistant software like Grammarly.
- Ask a friend, colleague, or professional to check the quality of your resume.
Your resume is your first chance to sell your qualifications to your target employer. This can be challenging for candidates with limited work experience. But keep in mind that everyone starts with zero experience. The resume writing guidelines outlined in this article should enable you to create a compelling resume even if you’re breaking into the job market just out of college.