While the bulk of my clientele is senior level to executive level professionals, I get the occasional new grad who wants a resume. More often I get the new grad looking for advice on how to sharpen up their resume.
So here is some of the advice I give to the juniors, seniors and new grads that reach out to me.
Internships or Related Work Experience
By the time you are a junior in college you should know what your major is. Try to line up internships or work experience related to your chosen profession. It looks good on your resume that you’ve worked in your industry. If you can get assigned to projects and get some great experience to include on the resume, even better. I see a lot of entry-level jobs asking for a year or more experience. Does it make sense? No. But I don’t pretend to understand corporate HR or the thought process that goes into writing some of the job postings I’ve read. Bottom line, if you have a couple of internships under your belt, it might qualify you and or get your resume a second look.
If you just graduated, it is not too late. Go ahead and apply for internships to gain the experience you think you’re lacking to help you break into your industry.
No matter what year you are in college, start identifying family friends who are in the industry you’re targeting. Ask if you can interview them about their job or even shadow them for a day. Your goal is to get a better feel for the industry or position that will help you better target ideal internships or college experiences that align with the industry. Maybe you might even ask to intern for this person or ask if they know anyone you could intern for.
Professors are also great referrals for you. I had a professor give me several of his books from his library as a grad student because of my passion for the subject matter. Professors may also know of leaders in the private sector they can introduce you to. Don’t hesitate to ask and find out what opportunities they know of.
In general, be open and prepared to share with people what it is you’re studying and hoping to achieve with your education. Being able to articulate what you’re looking for will make you memorable and perhaps open doors for you. College chapters of professional organizations like SHRM, SME, etc.
And circling back to my first point, if you are in an internship try and make as many professional contacts as possible during your time as an intern. Try and avoid hanging out with strictly other interns. Try and mix with some of the professionals in the office. Ask them to coffee, golf a round with them, ask if they could use your assistance on a project.
While you may not be asked about being president of your fraternity or sorority, or asked about your leadership of the student business association or your role in creating a club dedicated to philanthropy, these experiences look good on a resume. People who take initiative or people who don’t shy away from leadership are in short supply. Potential employers will appreciate seeing your efforts in this area. If you’ve led, put it on your resume. It doesn’t need to be a focal point, it should be a value add.
What if I don’t?
What if you’re not a type A, driven student? What if you’re not particularly well-suited to the school format and your grades show it? What if you had to work your way through college and couldn’t afford to take on unpaid internships or travel overseas? There is no need to fret. Focus on relevant course work, defining your work style with a personal brand, highlighting achievements in the work experience you do have, highlighting school projects relevant to your career focus, mentioning extracurricular interest in your chosen career path such as industry books, self-study, blogs, etc. These are all ways to create a resume that says, “Interview me.” Your goal should always be to show that you are serious about your chosen career path. It should not just be a record of what you did over the last four years of your life. Be strategic. Choose what you want to emphasize carefully. It will pay off.
The best is yet to come,