By Judi Perkins
A Story to Tell
With the proliferation of job fairs lately, ambitious, soon-to-be college graduates are attending them, distributing resumes and hoping for the best. But a resume is a compendium of one's employment history. If you have none, then what do you put on it?
Even experienced job seekers don't realize that a resume isn't just a list of places you've worked, but a story.
A resume tells:
- How a person makes decisions
- What their values are
- If they're motivated
- And if they take initiative
So in that sense, it doesn't matter that you have no experience. At this stage, you're not expected to. You're looking for an entry-level position in a field that you hope you'll like and one in which you'll be able to grow.
At this stage in your life, your resume is one page. Start with a summary, not an objective. Objectives are limiting and give no indication of who you are as a person. Instead, the summary is a brief paragraph combining both skills and personality traits that relate to the direction in which you're going.
Resume summary examples:
- Journalism: Inquisitive, possesses excellent communication skills
- Finance: Attentive to detail; skilled with numbers and adept at analysis
- Marketing: Innovative thinker and able to combine creative ideas with a plan for implementation
Your education follows, because you've just graduated (or are just about to). In about five years, you'll drop it to the bottom. Your experience comes next, and consists of summer jobs, or part-time jobs you held while going to school.
But the most important aspect of any resume, including a college grad's, is what's on it and how that's phrased. Far too many people have nothing but job descriptions, which fail to distinguish you from any one else who has held the same job or performed the same task.
Come up with more dynamic bullets that supplement the job description. Ask yourself, "What did I do that made a difference?" or "How did I do it differently or better than others?"
If you were waiting tables at a restaurant, "Relayed meal specials to diners" is what everybody did. "Thoroughly memorized meal specials prior to shift, provided friendly recommendations when asked," is what you did. It differentiates you from the others who stumble through it and peek at their pads in the middle of the recitation. More than that, it says you go the extra mile and take pride in your performance. A good work ethic speaks volumes.
The Well Rounded Individual
Since your resume tells the story of who you are, volunteer work, clubs, extra curricular activities and similar involvements should be listed, specifying any titles you held or special duties for which you volunteered. Any time you went the extra mile is important to illustrate. If there are several examples, use bullets under the activity heading. Alternatively, you can also use a colon, and then list them on the same line.
For a potential employer, your resume functions almost like a crystal ball. The better the story your resume tells, without lying of course, the more you help that person know what you'll be like if they hire you. Because no matter how small or large your role is, you will impact the future of their company. But it's not just the company's future that is affected, it's yours too. So rather than worry about previous experience, make sure your resume is accurate and thorough so you can get the future experience.