One of the most interesting insights from Jobscan’s Hiring Professionals Survey on Ageism was how many recruiters commented on the prevalence of reverse ageism, (age discrimination against young workers). Especially in economic downturns, young workers have to worry about ageism, too.

In my last article, I shared 10 ways older workers can avoid ageism on their resumes. Now, let’s move on to the early career/new graduate crowd. New grads have it the toughest, because they have a lack of professional experience working against them.

Here is the unfortunate reality in today’s pandemic world: it takes more time, money, and effort to train someone how to be an “employee” than it does for a hiring manager and team to manage a surplus of work. And for those lucky enough to have a couple of years of professional experience under their belts? It is still a struggle to show how you have made an impact with only 1-2 years of professional work experience. So, what are some strategies you can use?

Five Resume Tips for New Grads

Let’s start with new grads. It’s best to emphasize work or projects that have professional components to them, meaning you have worked with real companies. This would include capstones, class projects, volunteer work, and most important: paid work experience.

1. Highlight internships and relevant freelance work first

You can follow this with any summer/temp jobs (in an office/somehow related to your field. Unless you are studying sports management, marine biology or something similar, being a summer lifeguard probably won’t do you any favors).

Any sort of part-time job such as work-study should go under your professional experience – it’s paid, which makes it professional.

And a note about freelance work: you are a small business owner, so emphasize business development, account management, marketing, working to deadlines, balancing books and paying taxes, etc. 

2. Next, include relevant class projects

These ideally should be projects you worked on involving real companies, employers, products or services. 

3. Now leverage volunteer work

Keep in mind that it needs to be relevant to the work world. An exception to that would be a fundraiser that you organized or for which you were on the organizing committee. If it took as much time as a part-time job for several weeks or months to complete, it is probably worth mentioning (this counts as “project management”).

If you volunteered for a single event, that is something that you can put at the end of your resume, with your extra-curricular activities. 

4. Include any relevant gap year activities

If you took a gap year and did something meaningful with it, such as volunteered building villages or teaching as a second language, use this under your professional experience. If you went backpacking across Europe footloose and fancy-free, it is a hobby and goes at the very end of your resume under interests.

5. Save social club and extracurriculars for the end of your resume

Difficult as it may be to hear, being the officer for a social club is less important – unless it somehow translated to professional experience. Save it for the end of your resume, not the top. 

Five Tips for Early Career Professionals

Now for the early career professional. You have a bit of experience under your belt, but perhaps your position was still eliminated or you’re having trouble finding a job — and you have bills to pay.

My suggestion for you is exactly the opposite of the well-experienced professional: put as much as you can on your resume about your professional history, and also use the same info as above for new graduates from your collegiate career and jobs.

1. Provide details about your past employers

Make sure your resume information includes the name, location, size (number of employees/offices), and a brief descriptor of your employer (if it isn’t either self-evident like “Law Offices of Hanley, Miller & Jones” or “Fairview Medical Center” OR a fortune 500 company.)

2. Include measurable results

Include a high-level overview of what you were hired to do (2-3 sentences max), essentially the synopsis of your job description. Look at similar job descriptions online if you need to. 

Then add bullet points of your accomplishments – these are measurable results ($, %, #’s). They should be the results that demonstrate that you successfully worked the position you were hired to fulfill.

3. Go further than just describing tasks

One of the biggest issues I see with early career professionals is an excess of adjectives and adverbs to describe “how” a job was done. An example would be “accurately completed xyz.” As a recruiter, I assume you are accurate and you completed your responsibilities, because you worked there for 14 months. Give me the actual outcomes of your tasks. 

4. Two pages is okay

Don’t worry about sticking to one page. Two is fine if you can support it. Recruiters would rather have a bit more detail to give context.

5. Don’t waste space with graphs, columns, pictures, etc.

Recruiters are looking at your content not your design. Keep your resume streamlined and easily parsable for applicant tracking systems.

As always, make sure your resume is tailored to the job and optimized for ATS. Paste your resume and any job description below to find out if your resume is ready.

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Kristen Fife

Kristen is a Senior Recruiter in the Seattle area, as well as a writer and guest speaker.

More articles by Kristen Fife