New Grads – How to Write a Resume that Keeps You Out of Your Parents’ Basement


You’ve graduated. Congrats!! The jubilation you and your parents feel on this day can quickly turn to frustration and disappointment as you are faced with a tough job market and a daunting unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for new graduates has averaged about 8.8% for the past few years making it even more difficult to land a new job. As a result the satirical portrayal of millennials moving back home to live in their parents’ basement after graduation is sadly coming true. With a job market so tough, it’s important that new grads understand what’s most important when writing a resume. Give yourself an edge by having a well-organized, thoughtful resume. Your resume should tell a story about who you are and what qualities you bring to the table that more than make up for your lack of experience. Consider this blog post step #1 to keeping yourself out of your parent’s basement.


Problem #1: No Relevant Work Experience

There are two ways to handle this. First, put your education information at the top of your resume with the year you graduated. This will signal to a potential employer that you are a new graduate. Listing your major should lend credibility to your application as well.

Secondly, you can demonstrate the attributes a potential employer wants to see by emphasizing other experiences from your college career, i.e. key class projects, club memberships, leadership experiences, internships and part-time work experience throughout college. Some employers will smile on your industriousness to hold down a part-time position while pursuing your studies.

Problem #2: One page or two?

What is the effective length to tell an employer your unique story – one or two pages? For a new grad, it is typically one page. I rarely recommend a resume longer than a page for new grads. However, I have had a few high achievers who felt they needed to include everything from prep school through college on their resume because of the reputation of the schools they’d attended as well as wanting to show a consistent level of achievement over the course of eight years. That is the client’s choice. Those resumes end up being more than one page or very cramped if only one page. I do not recommend cramming your story onto one page if you want to include everything from prep school through college graduation. Go to a second page. Make it easy on your reader and make sure the font is readable and there is plenty of white space on the page.

My key recommendation is to be selective with the information you provide focusing on the skill sets and attributes a potential employer wants to see in an entry level employee. You want to entice a potential employer to call you in for an interview. A well-written, focused resume will successfully do that.

tellthemyourstoryresizedGNResize3-24-15Problem #3: Resume Writer vs. Career Services Department?

I re-do a lot of ineffective resumes new graduates created in conjunction with their university or college’s Career Services Department. Career Services Departments can be great to help identify alumni networking opportunities, prepare you for interviews, set up job fairs, etc. But when it comes to resume writing, they typically hold a workshop or class on “how-to write a resume” using boiler plate templates while neglecting to show you how to effectively tell your unique story. You will have a nicely organized resume at the end, but will it be a resume that tells your story effectively and sets you apart from the other applicants? Probably not. The advantage to hiring a resume writer is that you work one-on-one with an expert who takes an interest in you and seeks to frame your experience in the most relevant and current way. In addition, resume writers write resumes for professionals from all industries at all levels. They know what works and what doesn’t based on their clients real world experience and feedback.

Hiring a professional resume writer may seem like an unwanted additional expense during your final semester of school. But when you consider what you spent to acquire your degree it is well worth the cost of a professionally written resume. You’ll want to protect your investment and give yourself an edge over the myriad of other new grads flooding the job market. Or you could give it a shot yourself and write your own resume. My other blog posts should give you a good idea of where to start.

To your success,