RESUME WRITING FOR UNDERGRADUATES
For job seekers, the importance of a first impression can never be emphasized enough. The tool that imparts that first impression is your resume. The objective of a resume is to make an impression that compels the recruiter to make that interview call. And to make that impression all you have is 6 seconds. YES, ONLY 6 SECONDS. That is the average time that a recruiter spends on each resume.
Undergraduate students who are making a resume for the first time find it exceptionally challenging to start. If you are making a resume for the first time, start with using a Word template. It will give you some idea about the information that you can include. However, do not stick to that format as it makes your resume very generic – customize your resume to make it stand out. Hiring managers do not expect more than one or one and a half page resume from freshers. They are aware that you are just starting out and that you will not have a lot to say about your professional life. So don’t worry about the length, focus on the content.
A short and crisp resume also exhibits your skill to summarize information. You do not have to include each and every detail. Focus on what is relevant to the role that you are applying for.
As a student or a new graduate, your most important weapon is your education. Present it in a manner that highlights your strengths, be it academics or extra-curricular activities. You can also add certain irrelevant courses or jobs in a strategic manner so that they fit into the job profile that you are applying for.
Do not hide blemishes. You cannot skip the essentials just because they are not good enough. For example, if there is no GPA then the hiring manager might assume that it is bad. And they anyways have your transcript so they will know that you are trying to hide it in your resume and this does not give a good impression.
Information like name and contact information is mandatory to include. It is the first thing that the recruiter looks at and hence it is important that you get it right. Here are some tips that you can use to make this information look professional and communicative at the same time –
1. Name – It should be bold and clear. No nicknames. If your name is difficult to pronounce then you can include the pronunciation in a bracket, for example – Sean (pronounced as ‘shawn’).
2. Contact information – Do not bombard the recruiter with your contact info. A one line address, a single mobile number and one e-mail ID is all that is required. Make sure that the e-mail ID is professional.
3. Social media accounts – If you choose to include your social media accounts, make sure that they do not reflect any negative characteristics. Recruiters are very quick to judge a candidate through their social media activity.
Graduates tend to think that they do not have enough information to make their resume impressive. That is completely untrue. Even if you are a freshly graduated student with negligible experience, it is possible to make a good impression with your resume. Certain details that can be used by a college graduate to enhance their resume are as follows:
Information that can be used to enhance your resume –
- Any competitions that you participated in or won – mention what skills you demonstrated and what all you learnt.
- Any superlative you achieved i.e. if you achieved the highest grade or a distinction.
- Any extra-curricular activities that you were part of – sports, dance, music, social service, creative writing, debating, organizing events or any other college clubs.
- Explain how you demonstrated teamwork while you were a part of these clubs.
- Any blog/Vlog that you have or that you might have contributed in.
- Any published work – poem, story, article, art or any exhibited performing arts. It does not necessarily have to be on a very high level, even social media counts. For example – if you wrote an article that was published by your college society on their social media handles.
- Any leadership positions – explain how you demonstrated your organisational, managerial and leadership skills.
- Explain how you exhibited interpersonal skills.
- Community/Social service is a very good plus point, especially if you were involved in it from the formative years of your college life. Projects taken up in last few months make it look like you did it only to add it in your resume.
Your resume should be telling a story. The story of your academic and career achievements. Make sure that you follow a chronological order starting from the most recent qualifications.
Recruiters have a tendency to pick up any detail from your resume and ask you to explain it. For example, if you have mentioned that you were part of the debating club of your college, they can ask you to talk about your experience in debating and what exactly was your role in the club. Hence, to avoid any mishaps during the interview, imagine that the hiring manager will go through your resume with a fine tooth comb. Hence, it is imperative to ensure that you can elaborate on each and every word written in your resume.
Exaggeration, however, is a complete no. The recruiter will know when you are exaggerating and that leaves a bad impression. Facts is what the recruiters are looking for. Also make sure that there are no typos or misspellings. Run your resume through a Word Grammar Check.
Your resume has to be modified every time you mail it to a different recruiter. That modification depends on the specific job that you are applying for. For every job, there are certain keywords that the recruiter is looking for. These keywords are mentioned in the job description. Before finally sending your resume, scan the job description carefully and find 8-10 keywords. Include these keywords in your resume and highlight them by making them bold so that they immediately grab the recruiter’s attention.
Go through the Careers section on the company’s website. It has a lot of information on what kind of people the company wants to hire. Tie your career goals with the company’s goals. A lot of big companies also specify the resume format and mention it in their Careers section.
There are certain general tips and tricks that you can use to make your resume more impressive.
Tips and tricks –
- Use easy to read language.
- Use a simple and plain format. No fancy fonts or colors, unless you are exhibiting a required skill like graphic designing.
- Use action words like achieved, accomplished, coordinated, supervised, instructed etc
- Quantify your achievements – numbers lend credibility to your claims.
- Use paragraph spacing, indents, bullets, headers etc for better emphasis.