For those in the early stages of their careers, resume examples are crucial tools for learning about what should be on a young professional resume—as well as what should be left off. By now, most job applicants have probably heard the statistic that a recruiter spends an average of just six seconds looking at a resume. In this six seconds, the recruiter decides whether or not to discard the resume, so being able to make a good impression at a glance is key. The question is, how do you make a good impression when you have limited professional experience?
When writing a resume, those with little experience are often tempted to include everything about every role that they’ve ever had. But the trick is that the relevance of the information you include on your resume is what matters most. A good resume is about quality, not quantity. Particularly in today’s job market, where many potential employers rely on applicant tracking systems to do the initial scans of resumes for them, your focus should be on tailoring your resume to be relevant to your desired job. If you’re early in your career, these resume tips will point you in the right direction.
6 things to include
Summary statement. A summary statement is not the same thing as a generic line stating your objective. Instead, a summary statement is the written equivalent of your “elevator pitch.” That is, it’s a quick summary highlighting what makes you a great candidate—in a few sentences, explain your skills, accomplishments, and the ways in which you could benefit a potential employer.
Link to online profile. This may be a link to your LinkedIn profile, or it could be a link to an online portfolio showcasing your writing, art, design, or other work you have created. Whatever you choose, make sure that you have a professional presence online. This does not mean that you need to delete all traces of your social media profiles. In fact, having a social media presence where you demonstrate involvement in your desired field—talking about a conference you attended, posting a link to an article you read—can be a huge benefit during a job search. Further, Amanda Augustine, a career expert at TheLadders, states that 86% of recruiters will look up an applicant’s online profile. By including the link yourself, you can be sure that a recruiter will get to the correct profile, and not risk being mixed up with someone else.
Suitable contact information. Still using that email address that you created in high school? You may need to create a new email address. Choose one that is based on your name rather than on hobbies, jokes, nicknames, etc. For your phone number, make sure that the message callers hear when leaving a voicemail is clear, brief and sounds professional.
Relevant activities. Young professionals who have limited paid experience might still have gained relevant, applicable experience by doing something other than paid work. For example, college coursework, volunteering, or membership in clubs or associations can all provide hands-on experience. Including these types of experiences could also increase the chances that your resume contains the relevant keywords that an applicant tracking system will be looking for. Browsing through resume examples from people in your desired field can help you get a sense of the types of activities that are best to include. Don’t go join six clubs just to have more to put on your resume; instead, focus your efforts. For example, if you are in marketing or public relations, a volunteer role where you are regularly helping to plan and organize events can provide you with practical event planning experience that many employers find desirable.
White space. Don’t fear having too little information on your resume. Big blocks of text are hard to read quickly, and key information could get lost. A recruiter needs to be able to get a good sense of your background in the handful of seconds they will spend looking over your resume. A resume is not meant to take the place of an autobiography; it is meant to give hiring managers—and, increasingly, applicant tracking software—an idea of whether you have the skills and experience necessary to succeed at the job. White space is easier on the eyes than clutter. If you hate the idea of leaving too much off your resume, then prepare a second, more-detailed version of your resume to bring with you once you are offered an in-person interview.
Company descriptions. For each organization you have worked or volunteered for, consider adding a sentence or two describing its industry, size, and mission. This information can give recruiters a better overall picture of your experience. It can enhance your candidacy if a recruiter knows, for example, that your internship experience was in a start-up environment. Recruiters are not going to stop to research every organization that every applicant has been involved with. If you do the legwork for them, you just might include the information that lands your resume in the “yes” pile.
3 things to leave off
Objective statement. If a recruiter or hiring manager is reading your resume, they already know that you want a job. A stilted statement about your desire to “obtain a position” or “leverage your experience” is not necessary, and won’t tell a recruiter anything that they don’t already know. Leave off the objective statement when formatting your resume to keep it clutter-free.
References upon request. Resume real estate is valuable; there is no need to use any of it up with this throwaway line. If a potential employer asks you for references, and you are serious about wanting to land the job, then of course you will provide references. Besides, references are frequently not even mentioned until the in-person interview, making it premature to address the issue on your resume.
Photos. Even if you have a polished, professional headshot, you should not include a picture of yourself on your resume. Any time that a recruiter spends looking at a picture is less time that they spend reading about your skills and accomplishments. Additionally, photos and other graphics cannot always be read by applicant tracking systems. If the applicant tracking software can’t read your resume properly, your resume might never get in front of a human hiring manager. Make sure that your profile photos for social media look suitably professional, but keep the photos off your resume itself.
Obviously there is a lot to consider when crafting a resume. It can be especially hard to make a resume that stands out when you are at the beginning stages of your career, and don’t have many years of accomplishments or advanced education or training that you can highlight. Looking at resume examples from people who have more experience in your field can give you a good sense of what you should be aiming for, and what you will need to do to advance your career. Do you see multiple resume examples that include the same certification or accreditation? Is there an often-mentioned organization with a chapter in your area? These pieces of information can help you chart your course.
By looking through resume examples from people at and beyond your experience level, you can make sure that your resume is a tool that will help you land your dream career—even if you are just beginning your career path.
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