For professionals with years of relevant experience and demonstrable industry skills, the modern job market already feels competitive enough. For a recent graduate who hasn’t landed that first post-graduation position, it can seem impossible to rise above the fray and compete with candidates who have had time to build an extensive career. In truth, you can put your best foot forward with a resume that communicates professionalism and competency by following a few principles for kickstarting that first job hunt.
Highlight the Experience You Have
As a recent graduate, it may feel like you don’t have enough work experience to appear qualified to potential employers. However, there are plenty of opportunities to build a resume that showcases your skills without relying on an extensive job history.
Highlight specific, industry-related classes. Your course load is one of your greatest assets in profiling your professional knowledge and competency, especially if you’re pursuing a career in a technical field, like engineering or healthcare. Even in soft sciences like the humanities, a robust suite of challenging classes demonstrates a strong work ethic, time management skills, and a level of responsibility that future employers are looking for in recent graduates.
Draw on leadership positions in clubs and extracurricular activities. Even without professional management experience, there are still opportunities to demonstrate your leadership potential. If you’ve ever been given responsibilities managing people, assignments, or projects, you can highlight that on your resume! Assigning stories for the school paper, becoming the treasurer for a Greek life organization, or planning a new student social all provide management experience that you can leverage in your job applications.
Showcase volunteer work. Sometimes intangibles, like commitment to a set of values and a willingness to work hard, catch an employer’s eye more than an impressive job title. Experience volunteering with a local nonprofit or on-campus organization affords a recent graduate the chance to highlight just those sorts of characteristics.
Discuss any internship opportunities. Internships are the next best thing to full-time, professional experience. In fact, they can demonstrate passion for an industry and a commitment to professional growth even better than a normal job can! It’s the best parts of a college education and work experience rolled into one – it shows potential employers you have the skills training and experience needed to succeed in a given role while also highlighting a strong work ethic and dedication to your own development.
Lean on Industry Connections
Relationships are often as important as an impressive resume, and the years spent earning a degree also earn you a plethora of relationships with classmates, professors, and administrators. These can be the gateway to employment opportunities if you continue to cultivate them even after you have your cap and gown.
Maintain contact with your professors and classmates. When searching for those first few jobs after graduation, professors and teachers make for important references. In small classes and high-level courses especially, professors have the chance to get to both know your personality and endorse your abilities. Even better, becoming close with the dean of your particular school adds a level of specificity and authority that makes for a weighty recommendation worth sharing with potential employers.
Your classmates, too, are a valuable asset when it comes to building your network. It’s rare to be able to connect with writers, digital marketers, chemists, doctors, engineers, and lawyers in the same setting. School affords the chance to build a network that reaches into a wide variety of industries, each with its own unique opportunities. Lean on those connections to keep as many professional doors open as possible and allow space to pursue positions in fields you may not have initially prioritized.
Update your LinkedIn. Personal relationships are valuable for generating opportunities, but making your connections visible to future employers allows you to take advantage of those opportunities. Updating your LinkedIn profile with relevant courses, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work while adding professors and classmates to your LinkedIn network not only presents an impressive landing page for your professional profile, but also reveals career pathways that may otherwise be hidden. An extensive LinkedIn network allows you to see the organizations that your peers work at, reveals job postings that may not appear on other online job boards, and lets you connect with employers before you ever walk in for an interview. In a job market where who you know is as valuable as what you know, an optimized LinkedIn profile is a must.
Invest in Professional Resources
When beginning the first job hunt out of school, a few extra resources at your back can help you get the kickstart you as a recent graduate need to get traction with your first-choice companies.
Subscribe to LinkedIn Premium. While a LinkedIn profile on its own is a foundational tool for building your network, a LinkedIn Premium subscription adds essential features that help you tailor your profile and professional development to exactly the job you want. LinkedIn Premium gives you access to a suite of online classes that you can use to improve existing skills and learn new ones. You can also share completed classes and their associated LinkedIn certifications on your profile, signaling your abilities and commitment to growth to employers.
LinkedIn Premium also improves your ability to view other people’s connections and gives you increased visibility when people search for your name and organization. This allows for an ever-expanding network and all the benefits that come with increased professional connections.
Get a professionally written resume and cover letter. It can be hard to make yourself stand out to employers sifting through a pile of job applications. Employing a resume-writing service like Zoetic will help you optimize your application materials and give you the best chance of making a strong first impression as a job candidate. Walking through the process of building a successful resume alongside a professional will also give you the skills necessary to update your resume on your own as your career progresses, paving the way for a fruitful job search both as a recent graduate and down the road as a mid-career professional.
Are you entering the job market for the first time after earning your degree? Do you know a recent graduate and want to give them the greatest chance for success as they begin their career? Let Zoetic Resume and Writing Services help you build a portfolio of materials that gives new job seekers the momentum they need to begin their professional journey off on the right foot. Together, we can evaluate the experiences and connections you gained during your college experience and leverage them in a way that will catch the eye of your future employer. Connect with me here to learn more about optimizing your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.