New Grads: Stop Putting This Stuff on Your Resumes

A resume can lead to great opportunity, but not if you screw it up.

They say a blank page is an opportunity. For college students, a blank page very well may be a path to a first job in a long, fulfilling career.

It is also an opportunity to screw up. A resume represents the first impression companies have of an applicant, and many human resources departments get hundreds, so the impression has to be easily digestible and mistake-free.

Your resume is a big deal, and if you’re just starting out in the world, you might not know what to put on that blank page. But first, you should know what to leave out. Here are a few pointers.

1. An Objective

An objective is what people used to put on top of their resumes. Having one makes you look antiquated, Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster, said.

Instead, applicants should write an executive summary. Where an objective says what you’re looking for in a job and a career goal, an executive summary is more of an elevator pitch saying what you’re good at, including some of your applicable skills.

2. Irrelevant Work Experience

Lifeguarding at the local pool is a fine way to spend a summer. It’s a big responsibility, you get a great tan and your friends at the snack bar hook you up with free hot dogs.

Prospective employers don’t care about that. By the time you graduate college, an applicant should have relevant experience, whether through internships, volunteering or course work, Salemi said.

Including these internships isn’t enough either, Salemi said. A resume should show that you did more than make coffee.

“Get into detail with each role you had, so this way it looks to the employer that you were a valuable asset to the organization,” Salemi said.

If lifeguarding or working at the mall is all you’ve done, try to highlight experiences that would help at your current job. For example, if you worked at the Gap and put up with angry shoppers all day, you might say you learned to deal with a range of emotional customers on your resume.

3. Your Address

You can usually leave off a snail mail address, especially if you’re applying somewhere far, as many college graduates are, Salemi said. Recruiters spend seconds looking at each resume, so a distant address might make them think the company will have to shell out relocation costs, the former corporate recruiter said. (Here are the cities where new graduates should have the best luck looking for work.)

Simply an email and phone number will suffice, she said. A distant area code is less likely to tip off a recruiter about where you live. Also be sure your email address is professional, not something like myleslovescupcakes@gmail.com — unless you’re applying to be a baker.

If you do live far from the job, you obviously can’t hide it forever, but your resume isn’t the place to let your potential employer know.

“Let them fall in love with your skills and experience first,” Salemi said.

4. A Second Page

Perhaps a day will come when your experiences, skills and accolades can’t help but spill onto a second page. But unless you are a truly remarkable college graduate, that day has not come.

Having a two-page resume at the start of your career is more likely to be seen as a sign that you don’t know what’s actually relevant to the job.

“You should be able to tell your story of who you are and what you’ve done on one page,” Salemi said.

5. Mistakes

Make sure your resume is free of errors. Marc Cenedella, CEO of Ladders, a career website, said their Resume Reviewer tool picked up grammar, spelling and style errors in 80% of resumes submitted.

Such mistakes jump out at employers once they see them. You want your resume to jump out because of all the cool stuff you’ve done and can do for your future employer, not an unfortunate typo.

Want more job advice? Here are 50 things recent graduates can do to score a job. And while you’re cleaning up your resume, make sure your credit report is blemish-free, since some employers will pull a version of it as they vet applicants. (You can get a free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.)

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What Employers Want From the Class of 2017

We found out what qualities and skills recruiters are looking for in new graduates during hiring season.

Summer is near, and for the class of 2017, that means it’s about time to get a grown-up job.

While we’re sure you’re all charming and talented, we wanted to help you by asking jobs experts what recruiters want to see from new graduates this summer. Hopefully these tips can help you polish your resume or change your approach to interviews and land that post-graduation job.

What Skills Are Most in Demand?

Monster, the employment website, recently released data on entry-level job postings that showed the top “hard skills” employers want are computer-related, including quality assurance, structural query language and Java. Other skills in high demand are pediatric specialization and knowing another language.

If those skills aren’t already in your toolbox, don’t fret. Monster also compiled the most sought-after “soft skills.” They include oral and written communication, marketing, Microsoft Office, being detail-oriented and problem solving (pro tip: these key words should be in your resume if you have these skills).

Applicants can demonstrate good communication skills through impeccable cover letters and resumes, said Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster. Also, prepare well for interviews and speak clearly.

Keep your cover letter succinct to ensure it “pops” for recruiters who might spend only seconds reading it, she said.

“Think of your resume as a sheet of paper and you have a yellow highlighter,” Salemi said. “What two or three things would you highlight to show a recruiter that you’re an incredible candidate?” Once you know that, you know what your cover letter should focus on, she said.

If they’re not proficient in Microsoft Office, Salemi recommended taking online tutorials. Don’t take this lightly: Some recruiters test candidates to make sure they’re proficient in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Where Are Employers Hiring?

Monster’s data also included the cities that had most entry-level job postings. Salemi said new graduates should certainly consider applying where the jobs are, but also make sure to have a plan to get to far-flung cities quickly if they need to attend an interview or, even better, get hired.

“Hiring can actually happen quickly as many times as it may feel like it’s dragging,” she said.

While cities like New York and Washington have plenty of jobs, there is also plenty of competition, Salemi said. Depending on the industry, some graduates should also be sure not to ignore suburbs where employers might have more trouble attracting young applicants.

What Recruiters Like

Be likable, Salemi said. Yes, it sounds obvious, but as when she worked as a recruiter, and two candidates left were identical on paper, it came down to who seemed like they would fit better in the company interview.

That means be respectful, but be yourself. When it comes time for small talk, make sure your personality shines through.

“The top thing they’re looking for is someone we can see fitting in there,” Salemi said. That means someone who won’t stress out while dealing with a tight deadline, someone they wouldn’t mind working late hours with and someone who has more to chat about at the water cooler than work.

And if the job search doesn’t pan out right away, recruiters want to see that applicants haven’t wasted their summer. Employers are looking for resilience and an openness to change, according to Marc Cenedella, CEO of Ladders, a career site. There’s no better time to demonstrate that than during a dryer-than-expected job search.

“They want to see that you’ve done something with your time,” Salemi said.

Salemi recommends volunteering or taking local classes to keep your skills sharp and build your network. Getting part-time work during the job search might also help those who need to start paying back student loans. (You can see how student loan debt affects your credit with a free credit report snapshot from Credit.com.)

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