5 Ways College Grads Can Stand Out Using Their Resume

stand out resume

A recruiter spends 6 seconds1 on average to review a resume. That’s right – as a candidate, you have a matter of seconds to convince a stranger that you’re a good match for the job you want. And to put it into perspective, only 1 out of 8 applicants make it to the interview2.

Now that you know the insider facts of how recruiting works, what can you do to elevate your resume to increase your chances of getting into the “Yes” pile? It can be especially challenging for rising college graduates as they don’t have a ton of work experience to feature. We’ve spoken to some of the talent acquisition specialists in Silicon Valley and asked for their advice.

Here are 5 ways that college grads can make their resumes stand out from the pack:

  1. Keep the Template Simple

Lots of candidates invest a disproportionate amount of time and energy into formatting their resume. The reality is that while fancy resume design may make you feel good, the bells and whistles may distract from the content itself. After all, it’s your experience and skills that sell. So, keep your resume simple and clean. And don’t forget to make sure it looks good both on paper and on screen.

  1. Tell a Story

The purpose of a resume is to convince an employer you’ve never met that you’re qualified for the position. That means your resume needs to be tailored to the role to show why you are a good fit. Include a headline at the top of the resume that defines who you are and what makes you a unique candidate for the role you’re seeking. The rest of the resume should provide strong evidence (i.e. your skills, accomplishments, and experiences) to support your story that you are the perfect candidate.

  1. Showcase Your Skill Fit

Many college students are unaware of the fact that they have acquired skills relevant to the jobs they are interested in from classes and coursework took while in school. For example, Excel Pivot Tables and Macros are often required for entry-level Accounting positions. Be sure that you highlight those relevant skills you’ve got front and center. Don’t stop at just listing your skills out. Help recruiting managers understand your level of attainment by calling out the projects and any associated accomplishments related to the important skills for the position.

  1. Feature Relevant Experience

Simple fact: 91% of employers prefer candidates with work experience3. Having prior work experience is important to employers because it shows that you have the basic foundation of how to operate in the workplace, collaborate on a team and know how to apply your knowledge to get stuff done. Internship, part-time job, co-op, and voluntary work experiences all count. If you’re technical, you can even create a side project on open source platforms such as Github. Be strategic when you list them out and prioritize the ones that are most relevant to the type of jobs you are seeking. And be sure to include URLs to your work sample and projects.

  1. Describe Your Impact

Recruiters and hiring managers look for proof that you are a good fit for the role in your resume. They can sniff from a distance, candidates with resumes that contain empty buzzwords and phrases from the job descriptions without the actual qualifications. If you are a software engineer and can’t code with Java, don’t throw that out on your resume. Be sure to stand out by providing achievements for the skills or experiences you are calling out. Think about what has improved with your contribution – whether you have increased customers, reduced the number of bugs, saved money or improved team efficiency. You owe it to yourself to help others know what you’re capable of.

1“Eye Tracking Study” by The Ladders.

2“2018 Recruiting Benchmark Report” by Jobvite.

3″Employers Prefer Candidates with Work Experience” by NACE.

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