Congratulations! Whether you’ve just finished high school, graduated with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree or completed a trade school course, you’re ready to enter the workforce! Your ticket to the working world is your resume. This allows employers to make the first cut when deciding who they will hire.
Crafting that first resume can prove difficult. Much of the advice about how to organize and shape a resume assumes you have a wealth of experience to use. Your early-career version has special concerns to keep in mind.
But don’t worry. We’re here to help. Here are four steps to writing your first resume:
Pick a Style
The first thing to figure out: What style do you want? There are a couple basic choices.
There’s the chronological resume. This lists your experience in reverse order, meaning most recent stuff on top. For your first resume, this choice is dicey. You don’t have much experience and the chronological approach will likely just highlight your thin job history.
Better to go with a functional resume. This focuses on skills rather than titles. You can show what you’ve learned from your experiences so far and highlight your capabilities.
Listing (Limited) Experiences
This will be the hardest part of your first resume. Most of your work experience will likely be low-level service jobs – waiting tables, serving coffee, stocking shelves – that sort of thing.
But that has relevance. Make sure to highlight any additional responsibilities or accomplishments you’ve had (assistant manager or employee of the month).
Also, don’t forget volunteer experiences or extracurricular activities. If you were an officer in your film club, that’s leadership experience. If you helped manage the band you started with your roommates, that could be sales and/or financial experience. If you founded a Roman history club or started your own brownie business, that shows entrepreneurial spirit.
But be careful. It’s a thin line between relevant experience and childish bragging. Very few people will care that you broke a 2.5-hour marathon or you enjoy needlepoint. Stick to things that show relevant skills.
Edit (And Then Edit Again…Then Again)
HR people get tons of resumes. They are looking for reasons to cut people. Their job is to turn dozens (maybe even hundreds) of resumes into a workable few that can become interviews.
So, don’t give them any excuse to toss your resume. Check and double-check (and then triple check). Word processing programs will catch spelling errors but look for misused words (“overseas” for “oversees” for instance). Also, punctuation and capitalization on a resume could deviate from what standard grammar checks look for. You’ll have to make your own judgements in some cases.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Sometimes writing a resume (especially a first resume) can represent a humbling experience. You’re basically summarizing your life to date in a single (usually one page) document. It might look a little thin to you. And it’s true, you might face a good deal of rejection before you land that first job.
But remember the old joke about running away from a bear: You don’t have to be faster than the bear; just faster than the other people running. The same is true with job searches.
You’ll be applying for entry-level jobs, with other entry-level candidates, who will all hand in entry-level resumes. Your goal is to put your experience in the best light, so you stand out in this field.
A staffing agency can give you a significant boost. Not only can they help you craft your resume, they can steer you to resources to help develop your skills. Moreover, temporary assignments can help pad your work experience, making a permanent job more likely.
LaborMax is a leader in the field. Contact our friendly, expert staff today to find out how we can get your career off to winning start.