College Graduate Resume Tips: Why Your Resume is Bad and the Three Questions That Your Resume Should Answer

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 12:  Job seekers wait...

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 12: Job seekers wait in line to enter the San Francisco Hirevent job fair at the Hotel Whitmore on July 12, 2011 in San Francisco, California. As the national unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent, several hundred job seekers turned out to meet with recruiters at the San Francisco Hirevent job fair where nearly 250 jobs were available. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

In short, I’ve seen a lot of resumes from college graduates and they aren’t very good. They are not bad in that they have spelling errors or list their hobbies. They are bad because they don’t answer any of the important questions that employers are seeking.

If you really want to land an interview, leaving questions unanswered in your resume is going to cost you, but answering them effectively is almost guaranteed to advance you to the next round of hiring.

College Grads: What You Have Going For You/What’s Working Against You

Before I get to the three important questions you need to answer in your resume, I want to let current graduates know that they have a few good things working for you and a few things working against you.

While you don’t have experience, your education will have you up to date on the latest techniques and theories. You will also work for the cheapest salary. These are two important assets as you’ll see later.

However, you have no clue how things work. Unfortunately, colleges don’t teach their nursing students how the health care industry works or is structured. Business students don’t have a clue how businesses are organized. It means that although I’m going to tell you the three secret questions, you probably won’t have a clue how to answer them and that’s why someone with experience is going to get the job and you aren’t.

The biggest problem is that your lack of knowing “things” plays out in your resume. No wonder people with experience are preferred.

Can You Do the Job?

Obvious, right? However, I’ve met plenty of people who could not perform the job that they were hired to do. They simply didn’t have the talents, knowledge or skills that were necessary. These hires are a nightmare for managers because investments of time, training and resources are completely wasted and the hiring process needs to start all over again.

Why do those with experience tend to get hired? The answer is that relevant experience will undoubtedly answer this question. Yet, while you may not have experience, there are many ways to answer this question on your resume.

Here are some things you want to consider putting into your resume:

  • Classes you took
  • Skills/methods you learned from your classes or internship
  • Philosophy for the profession – if you are in a profession that requires one.
  • Things that show you have strong interpersonal skills, are a good communicator and team player

Don’t just write these things down on your resume, tell it through your education and experiences.

Will You Become an Asset?

Unless you are applying to be a VP or an executive, few companies will expect their newly hired employees to come on to the job and be and immediate asset. Instead, they expect entry level employees to be mostly a drain on resources until they learn the job. What many managers are concerned about is whether you will develop from resource drain into a capable, multifunctional asset.

If you have succeeded in school, you can succeed on the job as well. Your resume needs to reflect this:

  • Awards and scholarships you earned
  • Your GPA
  • Other relevant accomplishments: highest producer at part-time job, special task assignments in an internship, extra-curricular projects/presentations, etc.

Are You the Solution to the Problem?

Why is there a job opening? Perhaps a good/bad employee left. Maybe a department is expanding. It could be a new division or job title. Whatever the case, the hiring manager has a problem that they want a new-hire to solve it. The answer could be in your resume.

Obviously, we rarely know the “problems” of those that are hiring and it’s not easy to find out, although some industries have commonly known problems. Accounting firms have high turnover and are constantly looking to fill in the holes from departing auditors who have completed work requirements of the CPA.  However, if you have a network and an inside man, you might be able to figure it out.

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