Entry Level Resume Hack - 6 Things You Should Consider
I’ve been there. Constantly writing and rewriting my resume, sending it to every valuable person I knew and applying to hundreds of jobs - only to sit by my phone day after day wondering why it’s not ringing from top employers.
But here’s an insight: if you want to work for a top company, you have to have a “top” resume. And for some of us, it’s not at all easy trying to translate the things we desperately know makes us so qualified, into beautifully curated words onto a piece of paper.
And yes, there are resume services out there that can “interview” you and write your resume for you…for also hundreds of dollars. Which is definitely an option if you (or hello mom & dad) have the money to invest and can certainly be worth paying for.
I’ve seen several success stories from professional resume services, and I’ve always said - if you’re truly stuck, it’s better to swallow the costs now to get a job, which will pay itself back later.
But for tight-budgeting college students like myself, I was determined to perfect my own resume crafting skills.
This past year, I was also honored to take part in an Interviewing Panel for our next Structural Engineering job opening at the time. Having been in the “other” seat for so long, I was stoked to be the interviewer for once and not the interviewee, lol.
So aside from being a recent graduate, perfecting my resume God knows how many times, and applying for countless numbers of jobs - being on the panel gave me a better perspective on what a Hiring Manager may actually look for in a candidate (or on a piece of paper).
I’ve gathered some tips below from my experiences and hope that it finds you well!
Tailor your resume to each job
The biggest mistake #1 an applicant can do is send a “general” resume to every single job listing. Every job has its own unique requirements, tasks, programs used, etc. Therefore, your resume for that specific job should also be unique, highlighting exactly those things and more frequently.
I don’t mean scratch your resume and start over for every application, just change your descriptions and applicable skills so that it more aligns with each requirement.
It’s also likely that you’ll come across similar listings, which in that case, is completely fine to use the same resume. But don’t overlook or leave out small, important details.
When working on each section of your resume, think “how does this experience relate to the one I’m applying to?”
Can your resume be read in less than 10 seconds?
And I don’t mean word for word. When applying for jobs, consider the possibility that your resume is in a pool of possibly hundreds of other resumes. It is imperative to highlight applicable sections that will automatically stand out to the employer.
Think quality over quantity when writing. It should properly demonstrate your experiences, without burdening the eyes of the reader.
Make sure that your formatting is consistent, layout is clean, and that you’re using bullet points.
Hint: find/use a nice template to avoid having to completely create your own. However, I have seen beautiful, personally-created templates. So if you have the time and skills, go for it!
Sentence structures + creative words
The biggest mistake #2 an applicant can do on their resume is simply state what it is they “do” rather than what they’ve achieved or accomplished.
For an example - a part of my current job is creating MathCad templates for weld and bolt analyses. On my resume, I would write something like - “Increased company costs savings and time efficiency by creating user-intuitive math templates”, as opposed to what I just wrote above as a mere job responsibility.
I think majority of a resume’s bullet point should be structured like this: “overall accomplishment [followed by] what I did to achieve such” (or vice verse).
Use more words like “accomplished”, “improved”, “initiated”, “conceptualized”, “addressed”, etc. Always proofread to make sure your sentences smoothly flow and are grammatically correct.
Hint: Googling synonyms/definitions is my way of expanding my vocabulary and getting “creative”. Avoid repeating too many of the same verbs. The more well-written your resume is, the more well spoken you will appear.
Eliminate excess fluff
I know, it’s hard to fill up your resume when you may lack professional experience. There’s nothing wrong with listing your part-time jobs throughout college, but it’s important to express your prior responsibilities and accomplishments in ways that are applicable to the position you’re applying to (see tip #1).
For an example, I was a fine dining server my entire college journey and I demonstrated on my resume things like thrivability under high pressure, attention to detail, and thinking on my feet.
Otherwise, avoid including every non-applicable job on your resume. Instead, expand more on your projects, awards, academics, etc.
Collaborative skills are important, too
This is a semi-extension on some of the notes I’ve written above. When filling in your bullet points, think about how your experiences have or could actually help someone.
What was your role/contribution in your group projects? How did or does it benefit others? Not only do employers want to know that you’re personable, but they also want to know that you can be relied on as a team player.
A team player is someone who keeps their team informed, are willing to help, shows commitment, and holds themselves accountable.
But don’t just think of the basics, think about when you’ve gone above and beyond for your team.
Note: majority of my interviewing questions as a recent grad were “behavioral questions”, thus, demonstrating some of your personality traits and how you handle situations is important.
Let a trusted source review your resume
We all get a little cross-eyed after staring at our resume for too long. The words seem to merge together and lose its definitions at the same time. Allow some fresh eyes and minds to read over your resume. They will have different insights on what could be improved.