Those starting out their career have a hard time writing a powerful resume. Writing one requires a good understanding of hiring practices as well as self-evaluation skills. Now, where would one get all of this experience and skills if they are just making their first career moves? Obviously, nowhere. Nevertheless, an entry-level resume must be both simple and powerful to impress the hiring manager. Especially, if we are talking about working at a reputable company that can offer multiple growth opportunities. Although hiring managers do recognize the fact that the candidates are inexperienced, they still want to see impeccable resume style and solid reasons why the person should be considered for the job.
What an Entry-Level Resume Should All Be About?
Despite the fact that you don’t have an extensive work experience record, you are still expected to prove that you are a top contender for the job. A resume is your only tool to do just that at the initial stage. Therefore, the information on your entry-level resume needs to be presented in a crisp format and be relevant for prospective employers. When it comes to experienced professionals, it comes a little bit easier because one can show off the work history and the list of accomplishments. For entry-level job seekers, they need to use other experiences to communicate their value. In most cases, educational credentials and academic success will serve the purpose well.
Regardless of what kind of information you choose to highlight in your entry-level resume, it must address the company’s needs and wants. Having no work experience makes the task even more difficult but not impossible. The key is to identify those skills employers are looking for and to be able to highlight them in your resume. Whatever it is that you have to offer it must speak to the needs of the prospective employer. Otherwise, your impressive skills or academic achievements will be nothing but a waste of time.
Entry-Level Resume Objective? Or Summary?
Usually, resumes start off either with a summary section or with an objective statement. However, when it comes to entry-level resumes neither can be a good option (depending on your skills and qualifications). We believe that objective statements should be off the table here. There is no way to use the objective statement for an entry-level job to your benefit. Considering you have no work achievements related to the position applied, your objective will sound all fluff in the eyes of hiring authorities. On the other hand, choosing to go with a summary section has the same potential danger. Unless you have anything to summarize (specific success stories, skills, experience), it is better to leave out a summary as well.
Including an objective statement or a summary, the section is not bad in itself. These tools can be extremely helpful in landing job interviews. However, if you an entry-level job seeker and don’t have much to offer in terms of relevant expertise then it is better to focus on your education, skills, and extracurricular activities. Some people have a problem with such an approach because they used to see either an objective or a summary at the beginning of a resume. However, when writing a resume (doesn’t matter if it is a college resume or a senior business analyst resume) you should always be thinking about what the prospective employers want, not about what some random people would say.
The core message of most entry-level resumes should really be this: “ Here are my academic achievements and volunteering experiences. I will be just as successful in my work as I was during my college years”. That means that most entry-level resumes would concentrate on education. Many people question what one can extract from the educational journey… It appears it is not much you can say there. Well, here are some ideas that can help you emphasize your academic success:
- Grades (if you have anything to show off here obviously)
- Athletic success (some employers value this section more than you think)
- Extracurricular activities (sorority club, memberships, etc.)
- Internships and training programs completed while in school
- Cum laude/summa cum laude graduation
- Leadership recognition among students/teachers
- Paying for college (working all the way through while studying)
If you are still a student then you should concentrate on working hard and becoming smarter. Both education and extracurricular activities (be it football, red cross volunteering, or any other activity) are crucially important for your further career development. You can’t sacrifice one over the other. If you want to land a job in one of the best companies that can offer long-term career development, then you should know that their hiring managers are looking for both smart and hard-working people. The sad fact is that very often the hiring managers judge how smart you are by looking at your GPA. Although GPA doesn't always reflect your abilities, there is no way around it. So if your grade point average is good then emphasize it.
What Else Can an Entry-Level Resume Feature?
An entry-level resume shouldn’t be only about education. In fact, it may well be that you don’t have much to show off there. In that case, a natural question is “ What else can I add to my resume to impress the prospective employer?” Well, there are a number of things that can potentially communicate your value to the hiring authorities.
Job Internships. An internship is the closest to real job experience so if you have any of these, you should definitely emphasize them. The more internships you have, the better. Ideally, your internships will relate to the requirements of the job you are applying for.
Summer (Seasonal) Jobs. Although seasonal jobs can’t be compared to regular kinds of employment, they still matter a lot. Especially if it is an entry-level resume. They do matter for hiring managers. The reason is obvious: this kind of job teaches people general responsibility as well as some basic skills.
Part-Time Jobs. Not everyone has parents who pay for the education of their children. Many students work part-time and study at the same time to be able to pay for college and support themselves. This is always viewed as a positive thing by the prospective employer so you should definitely highlight your part-time jobs on a resume.
Volunteering. If you have done some volunteering, don’t be shy to add this experience. You can emphasize it if you did something similar to what is required at a new workplace. Besides, it is always a good thing to have some volunteering experience before getting a real job. It provides you with an opportunity to work with other people.
Training. Many people choose to educate themselves on various subjects in order to get a better standing at their job search campaign. Besides, today you can earn valuable credentials from such giants as Stanford University, Google, IBM, etc. without getting off your couch (check online learning platforms such as Coursera, EdX, Udacity, Kadenze, etc.).
Skills. If you have any skills that relate to the job you are applying for, don't hesitate to add them. Especially, if those are technical skills required for candidates to possess (e.g., MS Excel, SPSS, C++, etc.)
Entry-Level Resume Example