Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Resume Building"--Not Just "Resume Preparation"-- for College Students: Part One

Shara Azad recently wrote a piece for Huffington Post in which she describes life after graduation. It's worth a read!

Three months after graduating from college, I feel as though I am on an extended summer vacation instead of out in the "real world."

I think this is a common sentiment for many grads who don't get a job right away. And in this economy, you're not guaranteed an entry-level job just for getting a degree.

That's why it's important to start your job search now, especially if you are graduating in May. How do you begin? With a resume.

I know that many college students think it's pointless to try to build a resume. Instead, they accept the doom of a lot of "white space" on their resume because that's what other students do. But if you build out the skills you possess, it gives an employer a better idea of what you can do. After all, if you take the time to build out a resume with only a little--or hardly any--professional experience, you'll probably go the extra mile for them.

Think of it this way: Most graduates list an objective and maybe an internship stint on their resume because they think that's all their worth. I'm going to show you how to build out a resume. You don't have to have professional experience to show a prospective employer what you have to offer!

How on Earth do you build out your skills when you've never filled out a timesheet? First, identify your skills. And you've got plenty of them.

1. Look back on any jobs you held in college. Think about the skills you used. Did you help customers? You may have some sales experience. Did you organize things internally, improve a process or boost efficiency? Absolutely worth mentioning.

2. Explore your internship. It doesn't matter if you didn't get paid--you still did something. Did you answer phones? You assisted customers and facilitated communication. Did you grab coffee? You assisted another employee or manager--sounds like you are a team player to me.

3. Recall experiences in clubs/sports. During college, I may have learned more about life as a member of Circle K than anything else. Circle K taught me valuable skills such as strategic planning, public speaking, interpersonal relations, and time management. Funny, those are all core competencies that even experienced professionals use on their resumes. What clubs or sports were you involved in? Think about what you did, then extract the skill you used to do it. Now you're thinking in terms of skills, and that's what needs to go on your resume!

4. Use your time as a student. You may also have honed skills from working with other students or preparing items for your classes. Did you pull off a monstrous term paper? You've got to be organized to do that and know how to conduct research--those are skills. Maybe you were an RA and put together activities for residents and mediated conflicts--more skills to highlight.

Now that you are thinking about your skills and really digging to identify them, keep thinking. In the next post, we'll talk about how to translate those skills on to paper and create a knockout resume!

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