How long have you been on the hunt for a job?
Most entry-level job seekers find that they’re job search lasts longer than most since they lack the skills and experience needed to fill the positions they’re applying for.
Or do they?
The greatest resume mistakes that I help my entry-level clients fix either fall into digital formatting issues that are keeping them lost in the Applicant Tracking software “black hole” or content issues that are keeping employers from seeing the potential they have. For these reasons, entry-level job seekers are finding that modern job search to be frustrating, time-consuming, and often discouraging.
That’s why I’ve created this beginner’s guide to walk you step-by-step through how to create a great entry-level resume.
1 | Decide On A Job Target
If you have just graduated from college and are looking for a degree-related job, finding jobs that pique your interest and corresponding job postings won’t be too difficult for you; however, this may be a difficult starting point for you if you’re changing careers or don’t have much experience to leverage for ideas. Deciding on a job target is a critically important step that when skipped will extend your job search even longer.
Once you have a job target in mind, you’ll be able to create a highly targeted resume that presents you as the best fit for the job.
2 | Take Inventory Of Your Related Skills & Experience
Once you’ve decided on a job target, you’ll need to take inventory of your related skills and experience. If you need help getting started, analyze one or several job postings that exemplify your ideal job and identify the top skills and experience that these employers are looking for in an ideal candidate. If you have these skills, write down examples of how you put these skills to work.
Having examples of your related skills and experience on hand will speed up the resume writing process as you apply to different jobs throughout your job search.
3 | Start With A Blank Document
This one frustrates job seekers. If you don’t know what your resume should look like, it’s much easier to find and download (or purchase) a template. The problem with this is you’re likely going to waste money and time on a template that won’t get through the Applicant Tracking software that most midsize to large companies are using to collect resumes and narrow down candidates.
Instead, start with a blank Microsoft Word document and avoid using columns, tables, or text boxes to make sure your resume is getting through employer software.
4 | Create An Outline
The easiest way to create a great entry-level resume is to start with an outline of your work history and education. Your outline should include company names and geographic location, position titles and dates you held each position title. A short outline for your education will include the university or college name and geographic location, the degree you have earned or are currently pursuing, and your graduation date if you graduated within the last five years.
This outline will help you organize your thoughts and present a smooth, consistent timeline on your resume.
5 | Summarize Your Typical Tasks
Now, you’re going to build out that outline. Start by summarizing your typical tasks in a short paragraph beneath each position title you’ve held. This is also a great place to integrate keywords from the job posting into your resume. Aim to describe the tasks that relate the most to your job target.
Summarizing your tasks rather than listing all of your responsibilities will give employers a snapshot view of your career story without inundating them with irrelevant details.
6 | Highlight Your Related Skills In Action
Employers love measurable achievements, but not every entry-level candidate will have extraordinary achievements or major contributions to showcase. Instead, create a short bullet list beneath each job summary that highlight your related skills in action. Briefly describe how you demonstrated the skill, what resulted (money saved, sales earned, satisfaction ratings increased, etc.), and/or why it was necessary.
Highlighting your related skills in action will align your education, work experience, and on-the-job training with the goals of the company you’d like to work for.
7 | Develop A Job-winning Branding Statement
You’re not done yet! Since the top third of your resume is most likely to be read in-depth by a hiring manager first, develop a job-winning Branding Statement that presents you as the best fit for the job. Your Branding Statement should introduce your qualifications, highlight your top related skills (with strong examples of using these skills in the workplace within your Experience section), and showcase the value you offer or results you can produce for an employer.
For an entry-level candidate, the most effective way to present yourself as the best fit for the job is to indicate that you understand the mission of the company and the primary goals of the role you’d like to fill.
8 | Read It From An Employer’s Perspective
Once you’ve added your contact information at the top (always include your full name, city of residence, phone number, and email address), read your resume out loud to make sure you are clearly and concisely describing your skills and experience. It’s best practice to think like an employer as you’re reading your resume.
Make sure that your resume showcases the skills that are most relevant to the job, indicates that you understand the mission of the company and the goals of the role, and tells your unique story in a way that aligns your skills and experience with the needs of the employer.
Create a job-winning entry-level resume with this ATS-approved Modern Resume Template, Skills Inventory, Branding Statement Cheat Sheet, and Resume Targeting Checklist included in the Do-It-Yourself Resume!
Instead of applying aimlessly to any and every job while hoping for a “bite” from employers, create a highly targeted entry-level resume that presents you as the best fit for the job.