Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 6 – The Graduating Student)

2009-04-13 17:51:10

Newly graduating (or recently graduated) students have slightly different needs from their resume. Many of them don’t have a lot (if any) paid work experience, and add to that the fact that they have so much coursework to choose from, and it can be a difficult task to figure out what goes on the resume. This post is addressed to those young adults that are graduating from a collegiate program right out of HS, as opposed to someone going back to school or with military experience.

At the panel I was on last week, there were a fair number of students in the audience and two campus recruiters on the panel to answer questions. That, coupled with my own work with software interns, inspired today’s post.

A few things to know from a recruiting perspective. A “campus candidate”, someone who “just” graduated, generally refers to someone for up to *one year* after receiving their degree, be it undergrad or graduate programs. Campus Recruiters are different from “industry recruiters” by the very nature of their work. Not all companies have a separate campus recruiter, but most larger companies do. Once you have gotten past the one year from graduation mark, you should change your resume to reflect your status. Thus, even if you don’t find a job in your primary field right out of college, it behooves you to do *something*, even if it is working a part-time job at the mall until you find something.

Common resume questions that students ask:
Should I put my GPA on my resume?
-Generally only if it is over 3.5; or, if your overall GPA is lower than that but you have a high GPA in your major, you can indicate that.
GPA: 3.1 overall, 3.8 in my major.
One word: your resume should *also* be tailored. When you are applying to a company and they ask for your GPA, you should give it to them on your resume, regardless of what it is.

How long should it be?
-A recent graduate should be able to keep their resume to one page.

What classes should I list?
-You don’t need to put your entire cirriculum on your resume. A good rule of thumb is that if you had a project that taught you something in your major/minor fields that could translate as “experience”, definitely put that on there. Highlight the skills that are relevant to what you want to do in the work world. Stick to the last few quarters/semesters, unless you did something outstanding or that was a definite building block for your profession. If you have a dual major, have two resumes, each one emphasizing one major and the coursework you did, projects, etc.

I had a part-time job in the summers; where should I put that on my resume?
-Your resume is your *professional profile* and as such, this experience should be close to the top. Keep in mind that recruiters aren’t just interested in jobs, they also want to know about leadership, extra-cirricular, or volunteer experience that can be relevant to your profile as an employee.

Should I put my references on my resume?
-No, nor should you volunteer them until asked for.

How long should my cover letter be?
-The answer to this question is no different than for any other job seeker. SHORT. The first paragraph should be what job you are applying for and how you heard about it. The second paragraph should be about why you believe you are a good fit for the position (highlighting in 2-5 sentences those items in your resume that will be of the most relevance to the job and employer). Finally, your closing should thank the reader for their time and tell then when you would be available to speak to them.

One thing that both campus recruiters stressed was that too many students go into personal or inappropriate details/stories in their cover letters. Keep the content professional, sticking only to the job and your eligibility for it. If the recruiter has questions, s/he will ask them. If you have some extraordinary break in your education, call it out on your resume, and wait for the recruiter to address it with you. Above all, keep it *concise*. Your cover letter should be no more than 3/4 page or 10-15 sentences total.

It also should go without saying that you should spell check your cover letter, use full sentences (no cell text abbreviations) with proper grammar and capitalization. Have someone else read it over before you send it; preferably someone that has been in the workforce a few years.

Should I put anything from High School on my resume?
-Generally not, unless you did something in high school that was relevant or unusual. For example, if you were an Exchange Student to Ecuador for a year, that is something you might consider using, especially if it affected your course of study or choice of profession. A way to think about it is that your high school years should *never* be more impressive than your collegiate accomplishments.

One last thing a lot of students forget is to list the tools they know, such as Microsoft Office, or HTML, or other skills that might be valuable for a company. This information can go at the end of the resume for most graduates unless you are in a specialized field where industry tools are standard (ie, programming languages for a computer science major, or editing tools for a multimedia degree). In that case I would suggest putting it after your education, before your professional history. You can label it “Skills” or “Summary of Skills” or “Summary of Qualifications”.

And, as always, your career center should be able to help you, or you can seek guidance from a temporary staffing firm that might place professionals in your field. You might also ask family and friends if they know any recruiters that can take a look at it. Most of us are happy to help out students entering the work world.

Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 7 – The Before and After)
Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 5 – Design and Layout)

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