You’ve just graduated from university or college. You have the skills, the passion and the drive and you can’t wait to start a career in your field.

You send out your resume to a position that seems like the perfect fit for you. When there’s no response, you send out your resume again. And again. And again. Pretty soon you’ve fired your resume off to dozens of different companies and you haven’t heard a word back from anyone. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

Like many new grads, your resume is not doing a good enough job of selling you to a hiring manager. Your resume needs to tell your story in a clear, focused way that shows off the skills and experience you DO have, rather than highlighting what you don’t have.

1) Start Strong!

Our client’s original resume started off with a short objective statement, which is a huge mistake. Hiring managers only spend an average of 10-15 seconds looking at each resume, so you need to start strong.

We use an opening value statement to summarize your unique value to the hiring manager right away. We can work with you to outline the experience, strengths, and skills you possess that are relevant to the job—and don’t be afraid to name drop big name companies! Remember, hiring managers aren’t looking for what YOU want in a position—they are looking for the VALUE you can add to their company.

2) Sell Your Skills

After your value statement, we include a bullet-list of your specific skills and competencies. We also include any technical skills such as software proficiencies, as well as industry-specific tasks that you are capable of performing and soft skills that are important to the job in question.

The purpose of this list is to build on the idea that you already possess valuable skills the company is looking for. This is a crucial step towards convincing the hiring manager that you’re not just a blank slate who needs time and money to be trained, but that you already have what they need.

3) Devil’s in the Details

In the education section, our client had the right idea by listing school projects, as they’re a great way to showcase academic achievements and practical capabilities. However, it could have used more details and information.

Using the first project mentioned as an example, try to answer some of the questions that the hiring manager will be considering:

  • Did you work in a group?
  • What was the project’s timeline, and what materials or software did you use?
  • What problems did the project present, and how did you overcome them?
  • How cost efficient was the design?
  • Did you present your project to a panel of peers or professors?

You want to give the hiring manager a good idea of your thought process, problem solving, practical use of skills, and the results you’re capable of achieving.

4) Experience Is Key

Normally, new grads place their education above their work experience on their resume. This is because most new grads don’t have enough relevant work experience worth mentioning and the best way for them to demonstrate their skills and experience is through school projects.

However in this example, our client had over a full year of very valuable and relevant co-op experience with a large oil company. As a result, we swapped the sections to show off their work experience front and center. We also had them include a general outline of each role's main tasks and responsibilities.

5) Achievements Seal the Deal

It's one thing to claim you have all of these skills and experience, but if you really want to sell your value you should back them up with achievements. For every job or internship entry, list a few of your most notable contributions that involved you excelling in a practical way using your skills.

Take it to the highest level, and make sure that what you showcase are the same skills the employer is looking for. You can tell this by looking at the job description, and picking out any skill that's mentioned several times throughout the whole thing.

6) Stick to the Story!

To wrap it all up, keep the story you want to sell in mind and never deviate from it when writing your resume. Everything from the value statement, to the core competencies list, to the notable projects and achievements sections, and the content you include in your education and work experience sections should all further the notion that you are the person the company needs for the position.

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