As someone who spends the majority of their day looking at entry-level resumes from recent college grads, I’m often asked for advice on how to create a standout resume, without any professional work experience.
As a relatively recent college graduate myself, I was in your shoes not very long ago and I remember feeling panicked and nervous that whatever resume I drew up would not be “professional enough” or that I wouldn’t be “experienced enough” to land any of the jobs I was looking for. What I noticed though, was that I wasn’t the only one going through this.
So, I’ve decided to share some of what I have found to be the biggest entry-level resume do’s and don’ts.
DO: Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for
Chances are you are probably applying to more than one job. Instead of submitting one generic resume to everyone, try tailoring it to each specific company. Make sure to highlight any experiences you’ve had that can directly relate to the job you’re applying for.
DON’T: List your college coursework
Unless you’ve taken a really unique and unusual class that exactly matches the job description of the job you’re applying for, employers generally don’t care that you’ve taken the same business classes as everyone else. This doesn’t set you apart and it busies up your resume, making all of your actual experience more difficult to spot. Additionally, unless you have an absolutely perfect GPA, it's definitely not something employers need to see. I would leave it off as it actually may cause a company to choose not to interview you when they otherwise might!
DO: List your extracurriculars and clubs
Your experience as recruitment chair in your fraternity/sorority, as captain of your club soccer team or as a rep on student congress is all really valuable for employers to see. It tells employers that you were involved in school outside of your studies and the clubs you were a part of give a little insight into your personality as well.
DON’T: Include a photo on your resume
A resume is not the place for your headshot or senior picture. If for some reason a company needs your photo, they will ask for it separately. It takes up space on your resume that could be used to talk about your experiences. People are definitely not expecting a headshot on your resume and honestly, it’s not the most professional look.
DO: Limit your resume to 1 page
Seriously. One page. That’s it. Employers are typically under a time crunch and definitely don’t want to be sifting through pages and pages of irrelevant experience and unprofessional formatting. Make sure you are using only the most important information and that the formatting is consistent throughout the entire resume. This means things like sentence structure, and font style should be the same throughout your page. (Don't forget to triple check for grammar and spelling!)
DON’T: List your references
Typically checking references is one of the last stages of the interview process (if company’s check them at all). They’re not necessary on your resume and they take up space.
Ready to try it yourself? Check out LaunchSource’s own career prep course/resume builder to start creating your personal and professional work resume.