Career Corner: November-December 2007

Writer: 
November 30, 2007

Since graduation, all my jobs have come through promotions or connections. Now, I'm in the position of having to create my first professional résumé. How should it be different from the one I wrote senior year?

Graduates often fall in love with the résumé that led to their first career position and just add on to it. But you're in a different market now. And that means the way you present yourself to potential employers needs to change.

First, consider the structure of your résumé. If you have progressively responsible experience in your career field of choice, you can simply start with the "experience" category. But most graduates have a more checkered employment history or seek work that is different from their current job. In that case, start your résumé with a summary statement. Here, you can briefly describe yourself and your objective. For example, "Seasoned and effective human-resources manager with experience in employment and employee relations. Seeking position in organizational development or corporate training." Note that this description also includes many key words that can be picked up by automated résumé-screening systems.

Your experience is much more important now than what you did in college, so put the "education" category toward the bottom of your résumé. You no longer need to mention GPA, related courses, school awards, or your club soccer achievements. What goes in their stead may be volunteer work or community involvement. But only add your extracurricular activities if they are current and are an important part of your life.

In your new résumé, it's accomplishments that count, and if you have a lot of them, you're not limited to one page. Just make sure your résumé articulates clearly who you are, what you want, and what you can do for your ideal employer.