Taking Your Resume From College To Career

By Jessica Long (’05), Assistant Director of Career and Professional Development at Wake Forest University

You’ve gone from college to career. So should your resume!Man editing a document on a computer

When you were in college seeking internships and other experiences to help you when it came time to get that first job out of college, there was a pretty standard format you used when creating your resume. It was most likely very different from the one you created in high school. It’s important that your resume grow and change as you do, and it makes sense that it might need to undergo some significant changes once you’ve actually gotten that first job out of college. Let’s discuss some key points to consider when keeping this document updated as you move along in your professional life.

Education: Your education was important when you were in college because it is one of the first things employers look at when it comes to new graduates. In your next job, your education may or may not be related or even important. After all, one can probably assume that you’ll be applying to positions where a college degree is required. Right? Make the choice to keep your education at the top of your resume, or to move it to the bottom. The choice is yours, but make it an informed choice. Remember that a resume is, to some degree, a hierarchy, and you want the more important and more related experiences to be in a prime viewing area. If education doesn’t fit into this category, put something at the top that does. Make wise use of your space.

Repackage Your Experience: Obviously your experience is still your biggest selling point as you seek out your next job. How can you intentionally structure your resume so it features your most relevant and related experience? Consider creating sections that align with a particular job posting. For example, if you’re seeking a role within a college counseling center where the bulk of your time will be spent counseling and you’ll also be responsible for programming and outreach, you may choose to showcase your experience in sections titled “Counseling Experience” and “Campus Outreach” so that you’re tailoring your experience to the role you seek. Are you using similar language to what is used in the job description? Read the job description and tailor your experience in an appropriate manner. Use terminology and phrases consistent with your industry and role.

Exceed One Page: Yes, you read that correctly. You may have the ability to exceed the one-page rule with your resume. If you’re in an academic setting, you are one of the people I’m talking to right now. If you’re in business or a corporate setting, you will likely want to stick to the one-page rule until you have a bit more experience under your belt. A resume usually covers about 10 years of experience, so it could be that some of those things you did in college aren’t so important now that you’ve gotten more “real world” experience. Be intentional about what you choose to keep and what you choose to delete.

Do Your Homework: When I say this, I mean that you’ll want to research what a good resume in your industry (or desired industry) is. Do you have room to be creative? Are there industry standards to which you want to adhere? Do you want to focus on numbers and results within your accomplishment statements? Is the industry more about relationships and connections or business and bottom lines? Just like your college resume, this one needs to be crafted specifically with your intended industry in mind.

Give it Some Kind of Makeover: Remember how your high school resume looked when you came to college? And remember how much better you felt after giving it a fresh start? Do that again now! Change your font or overall layout to something that actually looks new and different. This will reflect the fact that you are now new and different from your college self. I promise this will be empowering and you’ll feel more confident once you do it. Add some lines. Take away some lines. Add a border. Change to headings in all caps. Change something.

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