“It’s late September and I really should be getting back to school,” sang Rod Stewart in Maggie May. Okay, so if you’re a college student, then you probably aren’t familiar with the song….but for those of you who haven’t yet found jobs, there’s no going back to school; you need a resume that will get you interviews. But most college student resumes are woefully inadequate for life outside of academia.
College student resumes get a lot of attention from family and friends. You’re really nervous about the job search, and everyone’s piling on the advice. “Talk to your older sister,” your parents insist. “Call Dad’s friend Seymour who knows someone who knows someone who….” they beg.
Here’s my advice, and it has to do with your resume. Grow up. You’re not in college anymore.
Last month, three 2016 grads came to me for resume help (one got an awesome job within weeks – go Matt!) and to a man, they all made the same mistakes.
Mistake #1 They led with their educational credentials, as though that was what made them most employable. They included their GPA (what did they expect? a recruiter to put it on the fridge door?). They listed the classes they took. They talked about the clubs they’d joined. UP FRONT.
Mistake #2 They featured their “objective” after their academic data. Guys – why does an employer looking to fill a position want to hear about your objective? Doesn’t it seem more reasonable that the employer’s objective is what matters here? And we know what that is….(to hire a great employee).
Mistake #3 They listed all the non-career-related jobs they’d ever held and neglected to talk about undergraduate projects that might actually have relevance to their target employer. Now, don’t get me wrong: people need to earn money to support themselves while earning their degree. Even people fortunate enough to have parents who pay their tuition need to work at least part time. And most Americans need full time employment while at college, so they list folding tee-shirts at The Gap, or stocking shelves at Rite Aid on their resume, despite having majored in biomedical engineering and job hunting for work in pharmaceutical labs.
Mistake #4 They still use their school email address. Want to impress on employers that you haven’t mentally checked out of college? Keep using that .edu email!
Here’s how to resolve those mistakes. Employers want to know what you can do and if there’s a reasonable expectation that you can do what they need done. So begin your resume with a succinct summary that (briefly) describes your value proposition. Push your education information to the bottom of your resume where it simply validates your claim that you’re educated, and in what field. Leave off your GPA (ok – you made Dean’s List? Go ahead an mention it. Once. Not every semester you earned it).
Lose the objective. Every resume writer and career coach agrees on that, and if your college career center told you otherwise, ask yourself how many corporate hires they’ve made.
Email address? I recommend a gmail or hotmail address that includes your name – and nothing cutesy.
Treat your internships with respect. Same with volunteer work. They were jobs. List them on your resume as such.
Project work? That’s a job. You did something that had a result. Speak to it.
Summarize all those service jobs you held like this:
Held various service level positions while earning my degree 2012 – 2016
College student resumes require help from an informed source – someone who knows how recruitment works and how HR views resumes. My special rate for recent grads (within one year of graduation date) is $200 for a resume and LinkedIn profile.