As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, I can’t tell you how many Career Center resumes I have reworked and “fixed” for college graduates.
If you are like most college graduates who are serious about their job search, you have likely done lots of internet research on the best resume writing tips for college graduates. You have likely been inundated by too much and often conflicting information, but you have likely learned by now that resume builders and most resume templates just don’t work in the modern job search. It’s easy to use free resources like your university’s Career Center, but how helpful will it really be in the long run?
As a resume writing expert, I can confidently say that many Career Centers are not helping college graduates create entry-level resumes that work in the modern job search. I say “many” rather than “all” because many Career Center professionals are getting smarter about the tips they share and several are Certified Professional Resume Writers.
How then can you find out if you can rely on your Career Center resume?
Who Is Working In The Career Center?
Depending on the college or university, many career center employees are students. There may be a manager or supervisor who works full-time, but rarely does this Career Center Manager have experience in staffing and recruiting or a Certified Professional Resume Writer credential. This is a qualification you should be on the lookout for but may not find, and it makes a difference in the quality of the resume you’ll create or use in your job search.
The students who work at the Career Center will be referencing any materials they are supplied to help with resume writing, but likely have no experience with resume writing professionally. The tendency may be to use outdated resume writing tactics or, the polar opposite, recommend downloading a graphic resume that they don’t realize will not pass Applicant Tracking software that employers use.
How Updated Are The Career Center’s Resources?
This begs the question, “Are their resume writing resources current with the most recent staffing and recruiting trends?” If the Career Center resources recommend the following, then you shouldn’t rely on the resume they help you create for your job search:
- Using a left-aligned, black-and-white layout and design
- Creating a broad, generic resume to use for every job opening
- Starting your resume with an objective statement
- Listing your work history with no or minimal detail
- Focusing on your extracurricular activities as a college student
- Including your high school details and activities
- Adding interests, hobbies, or details that are irrelevant to your job target
- Concluding with “References Available Upon Request”
Are Their Templates & Tips ATS-Approved?
If the Career Center uses resume building tools or templates found online, your resume will likely not be Applicant Tracking software-approved and worthless in your job search. For a Career Center resume to be reliable, they should be encouraging you to create a resume from scratch using Microsoft Word.
Career Center resume writing tips may not focus on passing Applicant Tracking software first. To pass Applicant Tracking software, your digital formatting has to exclude:
- Text boxes
- Any graphics
The second priority with your resume should be keyword optimization that occurs naturally when you target your resume. If the Career Center helps you create a cookie-cutter, one-resume-fits-all document then your resume won’t be very effective in your job search. The Career Center may not teach you how to analyze a job posting to identify the top qualifications, skills, and keywords your resume should highlight.
What Are Their Strategies For Their Resumes?
Next, you should consider what the Career Center’s strategies are for entry-level resumes. An outdated practice is to create a functional resume which lists skills with no examples of you applying those skills and activities rather than transferable experience gained in various scenarios.
Your resume should start with a Branding Statement that identifies your top skills that are most related to your job target, the results you can achieve for the employer, and why you are most passionate about pursuing this job target. Next, list your Education and an easy-to-scan section for Core Competencies. Core Competencies are the topics you learned in school that relate to your job target. This is a great way to integrate keywords into your resume without claiming that they are skills (which are solidified by experience).
When listing your Experience, consider activities outside of work history. Your Experience section can include work history, internships, work study, volunteer experience, student activities that you assisted with or managed, and any freelance work you may have. The key to a successful Experience section on an entry-level resume is to focus on transferable skills that relate to your job target.
Transferable skills include:
- Communication skills
- Presentation skills
- Collaboration skills (rather than “Teamwork”)
- Analytical and problem solving skills
If the Career Center isn’t recommending these strategies, your resume will not be very reliable or effective in your job search.
How Successful Are Their Resumes In The Job Market?
You should be upfront and ask other students who have used the Career Center to help with their resumes how successful they were in securing their ideal job. If these resumes aren’t helping others land the jobs they want or aren’t securing interviews, there’s a problem.
You shouldn’t trust resume writing advice from anyone, and many Career Center employees are earning certifications. It’s important that you are doing your research, asking the hard questions, and getting expert help with your resume.