Resumes 101

How to write an exceptional Graduate Resume

This article provides methodology and principles to enable you to create a succinct, but compelling and attention grabbing resume to help you land that all important interview. Your resume is one of the most important factors in getting the job that you want. I like to think of a resume as opportunity to link you to a specific job and an opportunity to stand out and differentiate yourself.

Get organised in advance

It is so very beneficial to be organised in advance and I strongly suggest you do a practice resume before you must. Writing your resume for the first time is demanding and time consuming. However once done you will have a priceless asset that you can refine as you receive feedback and learn. It will also better position you for the times when you must get an application in very quickly.

1. First compile a generic data repository of all useful facts and evidence about yourself around the generic headings of Education, Skills, Experience and Why You Are Special.

2. Gather a variety graduate resume examples from the internet to give you ideas on how to structure your resume and what kind of language to include.

3. Learn all about and how to exploit ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) or computerised resume scanners

4. Develop a generic resume drawing on these repositories. It will be far too large but provide a picking list of items you can use for a specific job.

5. Adhering to the principles below, write a practice resume and cover letter for the type of role you are seeking. Ideally find a real job description, identify the key requirements and develop your matches.

6.  Ensure your spell checker is set to Australian English!!!!

7 Have your practice resume reviewed by a professional recruiter or organisation such as GradCatalyst.

cv, flowchart, whiteboard

5 Key Principles when writing your CV

1. Tailor your resume to the job (PLEASE PLEASE DO THIS!)

Always, always tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. A resume specific to a particular the job application, one that highlights skills and experiences relevant to the role will broaden your chances and stand out. We can tell if your resume is generic and sometimes take the inference you are not particularly committed to this opportunity.

2. Assume your resume will be reviewed by an Applicant Tracking System.

Most large corporations use ATSs, not just for managing CVs through their recruitment process but also for doing an initial filter. The footnote is a reference to a very good article on how to deal with ATS’s.

3. Grab the reader’s attention. You only get one page and a blink to present your case.

Reviewers decide whether to short list a resume in just seconds. They have to review many, many CVs and cover letters on either paper, a 20-inch screen, a tablet or their phone. Your reviewer may be a recruitment consultant, a company HR team member and or the team leader with the vacancy. Unless you are known to the organisation, they will not yet care about you as an individual. You need to stand out.

I recommend that you make your first page (and ideally your only page) present your case. One and a half if you must but the first page and or screen must be compelling enough for the reader to look at the second. I suggest you strive to do it all in an A4 page, 12 font, with lots of white space. This is hard but it makes you to distil and highlight your best matches to the requirements of the role. By the way, I rarely beyond page 2.

One last thing, remember to use key words in the job description and use them in your resume (just for the ATS)

If you want to learn about standing out – read the GradCatalyst blog on “How to Stand Out. 

4. Only provide relevant work experience

a) Typically, a recent graduate doesn’t have much work experience and is not expected to. However, you can still write strong resume that will get you short listed for interview. I recommend you highlight that just below your professional summary and education sections any relevant work, internships or volunteer experience.

b) Use Bullet point descriptors of your experience that are relevant, not your career history. If you did not hold any jobs that were related to your future career, play up other information instead, such as the high-level courses you took, major projects you participated in, academic or athletic honours you received, or extra-curricular activities that demonstrate your leadership skills.

c) Ensure the experience you write down meet the requirements and are relevant

5. Showcase your skills and experience to the type of job that you are applying for

a) Show your achievements that are related to the job you are applying at and always be honest.

b) You should endeavour to implicitly or explicitly show you have  skills needed to succeed in the workforce and have displayed the qualities that will make you a strong candidate for a job opening.

c) Rather than making unsupported declarations such as ‘I am a great team player’, instead highlight your leadership role and achievement on a committee for a sports team or community group. How much more powerful is this? What does it say about your leadership, teamwork courage and influencing skills?

d) You can still link it to qualities such as leadership, teamwork, creativity, and reliability.

Small but important items

a) Always be honest. Assume your details, roles and successes, will be checked.

b) Check it looks good printed, and displays well on a phone or a tablet.

c)  Have a professional looking email address. If your current one is frivolous get another one for your professional job applications and affiliations.

d) Provide your specific link to your LinkedIn profile

e) Don’t take up space with referees or saying ‘References will be provided on request’. This is an assumption.

f) Be specific and avoid flowery word.

g) Be smart and use relevant key words. Review the ads for jobs you’re interested in and identify the key terms and phrases that routinely pop up and if you can replay them in your resume.

h) No one cares where you went at secondary school

i) Use bullets and structure your sentences to start with action verbs. E.g. Achieved a 20% increase in sponsorship when President of Rotary Club

In Summary

1. Get organised in advance and develop a practice resume.

2. Tailor your resume to the job.

3. Assume your resume will be reviewed by an Applicant Tracking System.

4. Make sure page 1 grabs the reader’s attention and presents your case in the blink of an eye.

5. Only provide relevant work experience

6. Match and showcase your skills and experience to the job that you are applying for.

7. Remember the small but important tips

All the Best!

GradCatalyst Team

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