College students face a pretty steep learning curve as they try to land their first job out of school. As the job market gets more competitive, students need to do everything they can to rise to the top. It all starts with the resume. Avoid these common mistakes so your resume can reach its full potential.
Every job is different. So shouldn’t your resume reflect those changes? It’s easy to send out the same resume to every employer, but that usually won’t get you the job. Think about what specific skills an employer would consider most valuable for each job. Then, bring those skills to light in the work experience and training you list on your resume. Sometimes using a different verb or keyword to describe your previous jobs can make all the difference.
Bagging groceries in high school may not seem relevant to your next career move, but leaving a high school job off of your resume usually isn’t a good idea when you’re a student. We learn all sorts of valuable lessons from our first jobs: hard work, responsibility, or the value of a dollar. It might sound cheesy, but those early job experiences can go a long way as your career is just getting started. Potential employers like to see when you started working and how long you can hold a job. Showing them that you’ve paid your dues can also make the right first impression.
As employers read/scan through hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for each job, yours needs to look as professional as possible. Improper or inconsistent formatting can quickly send your resume to the bottom of the stack. Make sure that all of your sections (education, work experience, skills) are aligned with each other, put headings in bold, and list dates in the same place every time. Use bullet points to make your resume more organized and easier to read. If something doesn’t match up, employers will notice instantly.
Listing your references on your resume will be seen as irrelevant. If an employer thinks that you’re a qualified fit, they’ll ask for your references at a later point in the application process. Getting rid of your references also gives you more room to list other applicable skills and job-related experience.
Employers want to see how well you performed in school. Earning good grades is the equivalent of good work ethic, valuable knowledge, and proven success. A good GPA is even more helpful for those that don’t have a ton of professional experience. Employers might also assume that your GPA was subpar if you don’t list it on your resume. You earned it, so you might as well list it.