BreakingModern — A resume serves as the first impression a candidate makes on a hiring manager, often competing with many other resumes for the same job posting. After graduation, it can be tricky to create a competitive resume based on limited job experience. The good news is that plenty of employers are interested in finding entry-level workers willing to learn as much as possible about the industry. You just have to find a way to capture a hiring manager’s attention.
With so much competition for each job, hiring managers are often looking for reasons to disqualify a resume at first glance. Here are three things that may stand out as red flags on a job candidate’s resume.
Unexplained Job Gaps
Throughout high school and college, you may have held a variety of jobs during summers and weekends to gain experience. However, to a hiring manager, the gaps between each job can make it appear as though you’ve spent extensive amounts of time lounging on the couch, binge-watching episodes of The Walking Dead.
Instead of leaving unexplained gaps between jobs, resume experts recommend using only years when detailing job experience. “2013-2014,” for instance, rather than “January 2013-February 2014.” If years exist between jobs, explain them by inserting what you were doing during that period as the job title. For instance, you could write “2013-2014: Full-Time Student.”
At one time, every resume had a section for personal interests. This was designed to let the employer know a little bit about the candidate. While this information can be valuable for organizations searching for a culture fit, it can also serve as a reason to dismiss you based on incorrect assumptions.
Instead of telling employers about your love for racquetball and collecting shot glasses, insert a special skills section that highlights your abilities with specialized software. You can also include any organizations in which you participated during college, including fraternities or sororities, degree-specialized societies or scholar awards.
Irrelevant Job Duties
In the years following college graduation, the experience section of a resume will likely be the most challenging. You’ve likely amassed little experience, so the task at hand will be to make a summer job as a lifeguard or grocery store cashier sound relevant. Ideally, you’ll have completed an internship related to your field, but even if you haven’t, you can turn the jobs you’ve held into a positive.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to feel pressured to create a multi-page resume listing every job you’ve held since the age of 16. Experts actually recommend that even more experienced jobseekers limit their resumes to one page. This works to your advantage, since you’ll be able to list only the most recent jobs and highlight only the job duties that relate to the current job opening.
Here’s a template that walks you through creating a resume at the early stage of your career. If you find you’re having difficulty landing a job in the area of your dreams, consider conducting volunteer work a few hours a week. It will not only give you the experience you need for your resume, but it will also give you an opportunity to network with others in your community.
For BMod, I’m Stephanie Faris.
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