Writing a CV seems to be a fairly straightforward exercise until you realize you have written everything you can possibly think of, and it only covers half the page. This is the problem many students about to apply to their first job out of college run into. So what do you do?
First and foremost, you have to realize that the people reviewing your resume and recruiters for recent grads in entry level positions understand that you will not have years of experience. You will be limited in your experience and responsibilities and that is okay. Don’t panic. We will walk you through how to write your first CV coming out of school that will still appeal to a recruiter.
The objective section of your resume is the most important when you are a student/recent graduate applying for his/her first job or you are looking to switch careers (which also generally happens early on in your career). The reason is that your resume will likely end up in a resume-book with other resumes and it needs to be clear from the beginning, what job you are looking for so you don’t waste the recruiters time and they don’t waste yours. There is no secret to the objectives section. Be clear and concise.
After the objective section, you want to list your education section. You will likely have limited experience, but the education is going to really let them know why you are qualified for the position you are applying for. Without work experience, your CV and its ability to stand out will rely heavily on your education.
Here are things you should list:
- School name and location
- Degree you either have obtained or will obtain
- Your major(s)
- Month and year of graduation or month and year in which you expect to graduate
- Extracurricular activities
- Things such as “President of XYZ Association for Students” are good things to list here
- If any of these activities / positions resulted in notable achievements, you also want to make sure to list them here as well
- This is one section where you can pump a bit of steroids and life into your resume so make sure to take the time to think about what achievements you have
Is that it? Well, that all depends on your experience. If you had experience in various internship and positions that are relevant to the jobs you are applying for, you can stop here and move on. However, if your only experience was that summer job caddying for your local country club, you want to add a bit more meat.
In this case, listing your relevant coursework is fair game. Separate a section into “Relevant Coursework” and list any courses that you have taken that are relevant to the job in which you are applying. If those courses resulted in any achievements (no, getting a B+ in the class doesn’t count) list those as well. If you are a programmer for instance, this will be very useful since they will know exactly what coursework you have taken in specific programming languages or certain algorithms.
Remember, without experience, this is what you are relying on to help set you apart, so make sure to spend some time here.
Trying to hide the lack of experience can be a very dangerous game. We’ve seen many resumes from students that put “CEO” because they started a website once. If you are an entrepreneur and you setup a legitimate sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC and had a business generating revenue, then by all means, put this down.
One type of question we always get is “I’ve only worked at the local video store. Should I put this down?” If this is your only experience, you should definitely put it down. It’s better than having a blank experience section. Even though it is not relevant, you don’t want to seem lazy and unwilling to work. Everyone knows college students have no money. At the very least, it shows you are willing to work a paycheck and that’s a good thing.
Other experiences that you have should include relevant responsibilities. Every line is extremely important (since there won’t be many). These lines should be thoughtful and enough to explain what you bring to the table. Remember, they want to know how you are going to make their lives easier, their business better, and their profits grow.
Skills and Activities / Interests:
Depending on your desired occupation, this can also be an extremely important part of your resume. The skills you list may be directly applicable to the job that you are applying for. These skills are important to highlight. For instance, a graphic designer may work in Corel or Adobe. Make sure you list the programs you are proficient in so that recruiters can pick you out from the crowd.
A word of warning: DO NOT put any of the following as a “skill”: internet, web searching, Facebook, Twitter, etc… It is true that if you are applying for marketing and you have a special skill in social media marketing, you may want to highlight this. My guess is, most people are not in this situation and are putting these as “fillers”. I hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as a Facebook “skill”.
We also believe that the “Activities / Interests” section can be very beneficial for you. For instance, I photograph as a hobby and when I saw an interviewee come in with that resume, I was eager to talk about what camera / lenses he used. This makes the interview go extremely smooth and you might get lucky that the person viewing your resume shares a hobby.
Well, there you have it. Don’t worry if after all this, your resume doesn’t fill up the page. Like we said, at your stage, it shouldn’t have to. Quality of quantity is definitely applicable here and make sure to think through each line rather than thinking how many lines. If you want more tips on how to construct each line, we have some helpful tips in the blogs section over at Crafted Resume.