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Tips for Writing the First Resume

Guest Contributor

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The process of venturing into the workforce sparks many emotions. Interviews can make you nervous, callbacks will have you excited — and writing your first resume could have you confused.

Writing your first resume is a challenge, especially if it seems like you don't have enough experience under your belt. 

If your high school or college student is ready to create their first resume and start looking for work, share these tips or use them if you have a chance to review what they come up with.

What to Include on Your Resume

Your resume should only be one page, so you have to ensure that every section counts. Keeping your resume simple and easy to read will help the employer focus on the most relevant information. 

Here are the sections that most first resumes should include. 

Contact information: Let the employer know who you are right at the top. Include your first and last name, phone number and email address. If you have a personal website or LinkedIn profile, you could add that as well.

Summary: This section is meant to be very brief. Your summary should include a description of yourself and your objective. An example of a good objective: “A recent graduate actively searching for an entry-level position in healthcare to showcase my passion for providing for others.” A bad example of an objective: “My objective is finding a good-paying job that fits my personality.” While that might be true, your resume is not the place to state it. 

Work experience: Figuring out what to put here can be challenging when calculating the experience you have for a particular position. For your work experience you can include past jobs, activities and volunteer experiences. Even if the experience included doesn't relate directly to the applied position, focus on transferable skills.

For example, if you are currently applying to be an event coordinator and, in the past, you were part of the campus activities board at school, this is the perfect time to focus on the skills required to plan and hold a successful event (organization, managing details and personnel, etc.). Whether you have a good range of experience or not you should include company or organization names, dates, descriptions and achievements. 

Find tips for including an internship on your resume here >

Education background: Show off where you obtained your academic skills. Include your degrees, courses and certifications. Current college students can include their anticipated year of graduation and academic major.

Skills: Think about what skills you possess. The skills section should include your soft and hard skills. Soft skills are skills that relate to your personality — skills that aren't taught but add great value. Creativity and time management are two examples of soft skills. Hard skills are skills that are learned through practice, classes and courses. Having software knowledge and computer skills are examples of hard skills. 

Hobbies and interests: This part is optional, but it lets the employer know more about you outside of work. Your hobbies and interests should include fun facts, hobbies, awards and interests. A common interest can be an ice breaker during an interview.

Three More Ways to Strengthen Your First Resume

1. Choose a method of organization.

There are three ways to organize your resume:

  • A chronological resume lists experience in reverse chronological order, so your most recent job (or applicable volunteer experience if you haven't worked at paid employment) is listed first followed by previous positions. 
  • A functional resume is a good option for those without much experience. It focuses more on skills and abilities instead of work experience. 
  • A combination resume combines the two, listing skills and abilities first, then adding your experience in chronological order. 
2. Research resume keywords.

Employers receive large numbers of applications and resumes daily and to help them get through the resumes faster they use an applicant tracking software. This is a system that scans your resume and figures out if you have the keywords that they are looking for. Often you can look at the job descriptions and pay close attention to the common keywords you see. 

3. Add a personalized cover letter.

Having a cover letter depends on the job. Many recruiters confess to not paying much attention to cover letters. If the job you're applying for requires a cover letter, that will give you extra space to express yourself, your accomplishments and your objectives. 

Identifying your skills, accomplishments and personality traits can help you build a successful resume. Check out this resume template to get started!

Guest contributor Daraha S. is a skilled content writer proficient in a variety of topics, such as cybersecurity, lifestyle, interior design, and financial wellness. She enjoys writing for Mint to help provide useful tips to people looking to have more control over their money and financial future. In her free time she enjoys finding new experiences and creating fun memories that can influence her writing for the better, allowing it to easily resonate with today's readers.
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