How To Write A Resume For Your First Job
Transitioning in the "real world" and the workforce can be scary. Here are some tips that'll help you write a great resume for your first job.
A strong resume is your way to compete for the best jobs. If you don’t have a resume that WOWs employers, you’ll probably lose the job to a seasoned professional, who can rely on experience to generate initial interest from prospective employers. Newbies to the job market don’t have that luxury.
That means you’ll need to work even harder to sell yourself to managers. Patience, attention to detail, and a little creativity will help you write a resume for your first job.
To start, choose a resume format. Functional resumes benefit young professionals because they allow you to prove your qualification by listing your skills. Since your work history will be brief, if not non-existent, you want to place the emphasis on your skills and knowledge.
[Layout of a Functional Resume]
You’ll want to draw in employers’ attention and build enough interest for an interview. But don’t try so hard that you end up distracting from your overall presentation.
Use of capitalization, bold lettering, underlining, indentations, different fonts, and white space can add variety to your resume and emphasize important information. Just don’t overdo it.
The layout should be consistent throughout individual sections of the resume, be visually appealing, and be easy for the reader to follow.
A functional resume has several parts, which are typically included in this order:
- Name and Contact Information
- Objective Statement
- Key Skills and Qualifications
- Work Experience
- Additional parts may include, a section for Awards and Honors or Professional Associations
[Name and Contact Information]
In this section, include your name, full address, telephone number with area code and email address – all at the top of your resume. Try to list a permanent address. Maybe your parent’s house. If you are currently residing at a temporary address, like in a dorm, you may include it in addition to your permanent address depending on the circumstances.
Don’t be boring. Make your objective statement meaningful. It should describe your EXACT career goal(s). But please be brief about it. The elements included in your objective should be reinforced and supported throughout your resume and your cover letter.
A major mistake that many new professionals make is that they use a generalized objective statement.
This happens because so many young people don’t really know what they want from their career yet. They fear limiting themselves. Also, a common belief is that they are knocking themselves out of the running for positions if they become too specific or “picky.”
It’s true in some cases. But I still advise people to keep the objective focused and narrow – or completely leave it off your resume. A weak, unfocused objective just wastes space and will actually subtract from the quality of your overall presentation.
If you have a college degree, position the Education section near the top of your resume – before your Key Skills and Qualifications. This is to make sure that employers see your qualified educationally. Seeing a qualifier early in the resume helps hiring managers know which resumes to keep reading.
If you do not have a degree, the Education section should follow your Key Skills and Qualifications.
Your highest level of education achieved, whether you completed the program or not, should be the first listed in this section. All other schools you attended should follow.
For each individual school, list the following:
- Name of the school
- Dates you attended or graduated
- Degrees earned (or degree program you were in, if not completed)
- Major and minor subject areas
- Honors, awards and Dean’s list commendations.
Reveal your GPA if, and ONLY if, it enhances the Education section. Any certifications or completed training courses that are relevant to the position you are seeking should also be included.
Newer graduates can include a list of completed courses that are directly relevant to the type of position you are seeking.
For example, a newly graduated Accounting major may want to highlight her course in Financial Accounting, Management Accounting, and Tax Accounting.
If you don’t have a degree, don’t fret about filling in the education section. You could list your high school and any honors received in areas that reinforce your career objectives.
[Key Skills and Qualifications]
This is the most critical section of a functional resume!
The Skills section of your resume highlights relevant skills that may not otherwise be disclosed on your resume. Make this section you’re own. This is your chance to detail all of the cool capabilities you have.
There is no perfect way to write this section. It’ll be highly individualized to both the person and the position they are seeking. But here are some tips.
- Identify the key skills relevant to the type of position you are seeking. Some examples of key skills include customer relations, graphic design, marketing, leadership, and computer technology skills.
- Develop several different versions of your resume so that you are able effectively market yourself to a variety of jobs.
- Rank your key skills in order of importance – the most important skill at the top of your skills list. Then, under each of these key skill categories, include more information about yourself that demonstrates your use of the skill.
You can draw from volunteer experience, schooling, extracurricular activities, or any other area as appropriate. And just as you did with the key skills themselves, rank your experiences in order of importance. The most relevant examples get top priority.
Examples of key skills with supporting documentation:
-Designed questionnaire to assess customer needs
-Identified sample population to be included in the study
-Drafted analysis plan
-Prepared survey results report and presented the results to the study team
**Marketing and Distribution
-Developed layout and organization of merchandise for a 25-page giftware catalog
-Maintained accurate, up-to-date computer records of merchandise inventory, suppliers, customers, and shipping vendors.
-Handled all facets of order receipt, processing, and fulfillment
Make sense? Great! Now on to the next section of your resume…
Since you are new to the workforce, employers won’t expect you to have much here. So keep this section brief – or eliminate it altogether if you don’t have ANY instances of working-for-pay in your lifetime.
If you’re using a functional resume, you should not provide details of your responsibilities and accomplishments in this section (these should have been included under Key Skills and Qualifications). You only want to let employers know WHEN and WHERE you acquired the skills you listed in the earlier sections of your resume.
So simply list your job title, the name of the employer, the location of the position, and your dates of employment as follows:
2004 – Present Customer Service Representative ABC Telecommunications
2003 – 2004 Treasurer Omega Lambda Pi Fraternity
2001 – 2003 Sales Assistant Magellan Imports
[Honors and Awards]
List any career, academic, leadership or athletic honors you have received. Academic awards may alternatively be listed under the Education section of the resume.
A word about References
Do NOT include a statement declaring “References Available upon Request." Employers already know that. Instead, you should list references in a separate document.
Keep an updated references document, but don’t include it with your resume. References are only needed when requested or once it is clear that the competition for a position is narrowing.
Do NOT include specific reference names or contact information on your resume…
And there you have it! Go forth with your new resume and snag your ideal first job. Or visit me at www.byehighschool.org/hire-me to set up a FREE 20-minute consultation, where I can personally help you fix up your resume.