There are many facets to the world of college, but the most important one is preparing ourselves for real life. Getting a degree opens many doors to the professional world that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Every course you take (well most courses) are meant to provide you with the tools you will need in your field of choice, but you must do a lot of work on your own as well. There are three main components to your professional profile: your resume, cover letter, and networking. You need to present yourself as a professional both on paper and online to set yourself apart from the many other college grads looking for a job.
Your resume and cover letter are the two most important pieces of paper in your professional identity. Combined, these two documents represent you as a potential candidate for your dream job. If they do not represent you to the fullest, you could lose an amazing opportunity. Many recruiters will write off a candidate because of formatting, spelling and grammar errors.
There are three main rules to follow when making your resume. The first rule is “One Page Only”. This rule is so important! It is an unwritten rule, but I promise every recruiter/employer will notice if you follow it. The second rule is “Formatting”. Formatting your resume shows you have attention to detail as well as a good sense of organization. The third rule is “Tailoring”. Tailoring your resume takes it to the next level. It’s all about making you and your experiences fit the company you want to join.
One Page Only!
Whether you are a new graduate or a well accomplished professional veteran, your resume should be ONE PAGE! The resume is a snap shot of what makes you awesome. You should only put your best and most relevant experience on your resume. Generally it is good idea to keep your experience as recent as possible. Your high school experience doesn’t need to be on your resume, it will make it seem as though you haven’t done anything while in college.
If there is a club or sport you participated in that is relevant, let them know in the interview. In the interview high school experience can be a nice point for conversation, but keep it off your resume. As long as your resume is only one page, you’ll separate yourself from the applicants who wrote a book instead (and you will definitely get the interview over them).
If you format your resume correctly, it will stand out over those that seem haphazardly put together. This can be hard on Microsoft Word, so try to seek help from your career center or use a formatter. Online formatting aides may cost a few dollars, but they will make your resume look so much more polished. Make sure the indentations and bullet points are all in line. If your resume looks great, the employer will want to read it first and appreciate the hard work that went into it.
This is such an important step. Unfortunately, a lot of people skip it. Tailoring consists of researching the company and making your resume fit what they are looking for. A good place to start is by looking at their mission statement and seeing what their company is all about. Also, try to use the same language as them, look for key words and use them in your resume and cover letter. Researching the company will not only help you with your resume, but it is essential for your interview. You can have the same resume for every job interview, but if you tailor you primary resume for each job, it will show your interest in the company. Tailoring is about picking and choosing the right words, experiences, and organization to fit the company you want.
Your cover letter is the more personable version of your resume, and your way of telling the employer that you are the best person for the job. When you are writing your cover letter always remember what is on your resume and refer back to those experiences. Try to format it in three paragraphs. The first should state why you are writing and what position you are interested in. Mention something about the company that interests you, such as an award they have achieved or an achievement in their field. If you add this in, they will know right off the bat that you know about their company and have done research. The second paragraph should address how your skills and achievements will improve their company. Don’t undersell yourself; you have worked hard for 4-5 years to get the job of your dreams and you need to tell them why you are just what they were looking for. The final paragraph should restate the reason why you are writing them and thank them for their time. Passionately engage yourself to their company and make yourself too good to refuse.
Address the letter to someone, not to whom it may concern. This shows you know who to contact and how interested you are in this job. If you don’t know who to address it to search their website or call the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager. Finally, for the best results, mention in the end that you will be contacting them at a specific date to ensure they have received your application packet. If you say this, you are showing just how determined you are to get an interview/job with this company!
It is also necessary to create a professional online identity. Who you are online is just as important as how you represent yourself on paper and in person. Your online persona is important to many employers and can make or break your chances with their company.
Employers as well as job seekers are learning as they go about the importance of social networking and online profiles on the job market. There are new rules being made as to the security of your online profiles. Facebook has become a tool many employers use to find out about future employees from a different angle. This can be detrimental for any college student that has questionable pictures. Technically, the information you put online is not private, so be careful what you put online! Making your Facebook private may not be enough. Some companies are asking for Facebook usernames and passwords before hiring. This is a controversial breakthrough, but it is something that future grads should be aware of.
Although social networking sites can be used against job seekers, it can also be a great tool to use in your job search! Sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be used to network with companies you seek to join.
This site is a “professional Facebook” and it is used by employers and business professionals to connect online. You can upload your resume and experience for employers to see. Employers will put up job postings and search through resumes. If you are looking for a job, LinkedIn can connect you to people in the field you wish to work in. The old adage is true, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. Professional networking sites can help you network in the digital age.
Twitter can be for fun, but it can also be used for professional networking. I myself have a personal twitter as well as a professional twitter. The difference is all about who you follow and what you tweet. I do not follow any friends on my professional twitter. I follow companies I am interested in and Job posting sites. I will post articles I have written and research companies though their tweets. Twitter is a great way to keep posted on what is happening in companies in your desired field as well as getting even more of your experience out there.
Now that you have the tools to represent yourself in the best way, you will be sure to get an interview. All of these tools are going to be seen by the employer far before they ever meet you, which is why it is so important to represent yourself in the best light. Searching for a job is all about being proud of who you are and showing employers why you are the perfect man/woman for the job! If you’ve done the work and followed these tips, there is no reason you shouldn’t be successful in finding the perfect job!