You’re fresh out of college and want the world to know just how much potential you have. Creating a resume is step 1 as you begin to put yourself out there to let the world know what you can offer. Without much of a job history, this one document has to tell your story–it’s a small document but it’s all companies have to gain a first impression.
The resume writing and career coaching team at ResumeSpice has put together a list of 7 of the most common resume mistakes new grads make–and what you can do to avoid them.
They submit the same resume for each job.
We know that job searching can be cumbersome, but trust us, it’s worth the extra time to customize your resume for each job. When a recruiter scans your resume, they’re trying to assess whether you’re a fit for the role–in the shortest time possible. If you don’t tie your skills to the specific job for which you’re applying, they’re going to pass you over.
Review each job description carefully before you apply. Take note of any skills and keywords that seem to stick out or anything with which you have direct experience, and write bullet points that directly speak to those qualifications.
Their resumes have typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors.
Although this doesn’t only apply to new graduates, most new grads don’t realize just how sensitive hiring managers can be to seemingly innocent resume mistakes. These types of errors can make you appear careless or lazy. Sure, recruiters and hiring managers can overlook an extra space or even a missing punctuation, but there’s a limit to how much they can forgive. Remember, their credibility is hinging on the candidates they submit for consideration, so they’re selective about who they recommend. Ask a friend or trusted colleague to proof your resume. And we always advise reading your resume aloud–sometimes errors are easier to hear than they are to see.
They have overly stylized or formatted resumes.
Sometimes new grads will attempt to distract from their lack of experience by installing some formatting pizzazz. While we understand the logic, an overly-stylized resume can be difficult to follow. Recruiters need to be able to locate information quickly. If they have to decode information, they’re going to skip it entirely. We always advise to keep your format simple and easy to read. White space is your friend.
They include an objective.
There’s no real upside to including an objective, but there are plenty of potential downsides. An objective typically focuses on your goals and what you want out of a position. But employers want to know what you can do for them. Additionally, your resume might get tossed if your objective doesn’t align exactly with what the position calls for.
Just nix this section from your resume altogether, as it usually does more harm than good. To paraphrase JFK: when it comes to resumes, it’s not about what the employer can do for you, it’s about what you can do for them.
They don’t use all their college work experience.
Whether you collected internships, worked your way through college, or volunteered in the ombudsman’s office, almost any college activity can be utilized on your resume. You’re likely applying for entry-level positions. Hiring managers understand that most new grads are not going to bring extensive full-time work experience to the table. Use the experience you have and try as best you can to translate what you’ve been doing into what you want to do.
If you’re going for an entry-level accounting role, you can position your experience at a retail store by highlighting that you were accountable for processing payments, ensuring payments and cash on hand matched total sales for the day, and depositing payments into the company’s bank account.
Don’t leave something off your resume because you think it doesn’t apply to what you’re trying to do. Even if you can’t relate your experience to the role to which you’re applying, for new grads, almost any experience will be looked at favorably.
They don’t include a cover letter with their resume.
We know that cover letters aren’t always required with a resume, but we recommend that recent graduates submit one whenever possible. It can sometimes be tricky to write an attention-grabbing cover letter, but remember to always focus on the employer’s needs and specifically address how you’d be a great fit for the role. You can always hire a professional cover letter writer to help.
They leave off their most important information.
We chalk it up to nerves and being so focused on getting all your career information on the page that you forget about including information about how an interested recruiter or hiring manager can contact you. That’s right–believe it or not, many candidates (not just new grads) forget to include their contact info. Always include the following at the top of your resume: name, city, state, zip, phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile link.
Writing a great resume can seem daunting when you haven’t done it before, but follow the above tips and you’ll be ahead of most entry-level candidates. We welcome you to visit ResumeSpice for more help.
Savannah Ober is a resume writer and career consultant at ResumeSpice. In addition to being a resume expert, Savannah is also an experienced corporate communications professional, working with one of the world’s largest global companies. Savannah has written recruiting advertisements for trade publications, created marketing collateral, written press releases and blogs, and developed social media content. Savannah holds a BA in English, creative writing.