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Trying to enter the job market for the first time is always a challenge. Trying to do it amid a global pandemic, with record unemployment, no applicable work experience, and when so many positions are remote, may seem insurmountable. You, and an estimated 4 million of your fellow college graduates, are facing these same challenges (according to SHRM.org). It’s not time to throw up your arms frustrated about things you cannot control. It’s time to own what you can control and push forward.
Whether you have experience or not, how you craft your resume will determine if you get an interview. So that we can move past the obstacle of “no experience” we should understand what the “experience” section of your resume does. “Experience” allows you to present successful examples of applicable sets of skills. Those sets of skills determine if you should be considered by an employer. Simply put, the experience section of your resume explains that you possess the applicable skills for the job. How you craft the “experience” section of your resume will be determined by skill sets exemplified by keywords. We will get to this shortly.
Remote Keywords, Ex.1
In the meantime, let’s address the next hurdle in crafting your resume, working remotely. Based on the last paragraph, we just need to ask the question, “What are the skills that make a candidate qualified for remote work?” Afterall successful remote work is achieved with a skill set. A skill set you can demonstrate along with others in your resume.
As we continue to explore building your resume we must talk about the visual appearance. Looks matter. Perhaps you’ve heard of the 6-second rule. If you have not, 6 seconds is the amount of time the average resume is viewed before the reader decides to continue reading or move on to the next applicant. If you are not hiring a professional resume writer, I recommend utilizing a template. There are template options all over the internet. If you want a template that is user friendly, allows you to target each resume submission with just 2 clicks, and provides visual appeal, I recommend Wisedoc.net. (go to www.wisedoc.net and click demo button, to see how it works)
How about the page layout? There are several ways to lay out your resume, but a basic guide is to consider the “Z.” Readers in western, English-speaking cultures start at the top left of the page continue as shown above. Consider this when you are creating your own resume or choosing a template. You want to have visual impact within those lines of sight to encourage the reader to investigate your resume further.
Z pattern PG, 1, Ex.2
Z pattern PG. 2, Ex.3
A quick caveat from your resume to talk career strategy. When you are looking for your first position in the professional world it is easy to fall into the trap of grabbing the first job you are offered. But is that first offer really a position that is going to give you a foundation to grow a career for a lifetime? Keep your long term in focus by asking “why them?” before you apply. Does the company have a culture that you can identify? Does it have opportunity for growth? Remember you’re building a foundation for a lifetime, so choose carefully. Now, back to your resume.
Impactful Open with No Experience,(targeted toward Starbucks, Inc), Ex.4
“Why you?”, a question that every hiring manager and recruiter asks daily. When you are writing your resume, it should clearly explain “why you?” from the very beginning to the end. Remember the 6-second rule? If the reader of your resume does not see why you are qualified right away, you are not getting an interview.
This takes us to a crucial topic, keywords. When you are describing all the applicable sets of skills (experience) that make you a great candidate for employment, utilizing keywords from the job listing is especially important. Even if you have a completed resume, taking time to find keywords and rewrite portions of your resume to include keywords is a valuable best practice.
I have found a simple way to locate keywords is to create a word cloud. There are several websites that offer free word cloud creation. (www.wordclouds.com, www.beautiful.ai, etc.) Copy the job listing and paste it into the word field, then follow the site-specific instructions. After producing your cloud look for words that are actionable and words that obviously apply to the position, such as required licenses, etc. Remember with a word cloud the bigger the word the more important. You can also stay away articles (and, but) and words like the company name.
Word Cloud, (How can you work these keywords into your resume?), Ex.4
Traditionally references are a list of previous employers, co-workers, or personal acquaintances, that we save for another page. There is nothing wrong with including a reference page with your resume. That said, we live with reviews and recommendations online every day. With that in mind, you can add a personal touch is by adding quotes that recommend you and endorse your skills. It’s like a collection of 5-star reviews for your resume.
One of my favorite things to do with a resume is add a touch of personality. This can be accomplished through pops of color, the addition of hobbies, community involvement, or charitable efforts. In fact, there is nothing wrong with adding all the above. You never know how you will connect with a reader, interviewer, or potential employer. Including your personal interests and a hit of color may spark enough curiosity for a potential employer to continue to review your resume. It may even help land you the job of your dreams.