Resume Tips for New Graduates

Resume Tips for New Graduates
Here are several questions about resumes that are frequently asked by new college graduates. If you have specific questions about your own resume, please feel free to write to me or ask our readers in our Post-College forum.

Do I need to list all of my jobs on my resume?

Typically, the answer is “no”. But, think about a few key issues first before you decide to omit a job from your resume.

First, will omitting the job from your resume cause a huge “gap” of time? Employers are trained to look for “gaps” in your academic/work history, so be prepared to explain them.

Are you afraid to list a job because you don’t want them to talk to your previous boss? Perhaps you could list someone other than your boss as your reference. If you had some great experience there, then you’ll want to list the job on your resume.

Also, how long ago was the job experience? If the job was more than 10 years ago, you can leave it off. However, you might want to add a simple line at the end of your “Relevant Work Experience” section that says something like “Complete work history available upon request”.

Remember, your resume is supposed to be an “advertisement” about yourself. so think of it as a marketing tool. It’s not the same thing as a job application, and it’s not a legal document. Therefore, you have some control over what you include. Of course, everything must be honest. But, if a particular experience has nothing to do with the career you’re trying to pursue, then you can leave it off, thereby saving room for more relevant information.

Do I need to indicate whether my internship was paid or unpaid?

No. Your resume should highlight details about the projects that you worked on and skills you developed while at the internship. You might also mention if the internship was full-time or part-time.

In your interview, be honest if asked whether or not you were paid for your internship. Many students tend to discount their efforts and almost seem embarrassed to admit that they worked for free. Instead, speak confidently about your internship experience! Nearly all college students are short on cash at some point during their studies, but not everyone is passionate enough about their new career field to take on an unpaid internship and make it work.

Also, remember lots of fields don’t offer paid internships. School districts, TV/radio stations, social work and non-profit organizations typically only offer unpaid internships. Just because an internship was “unpaid” doesn’t mean it was less valuable. You can still walk away from an unpaid internship with some great experience, some networking contacts, and hopefully a great reference.

Do I need to list my GPA on my resume?

If you lack job experience, then a strong GPA can show that you have potential. Only list your GPA on your resume if:

1.) Your cumulative GPA was higher than a 3.0.
2.) You are a new college graduate. After you have joined the workforce, employers will be more interested in your experience. Listing your GPA would look silly.

NOTE: If your cumulative GPA was less than 3.0, but you did really well in the classes in your academic major, then you could consider showcasing your “GPA in your major”, rather than your overall GPA. For example, your resume could look something like this:

University of the Midwest, Chicago, IL
Bachelor of Science Degree Completed May 2006
Major: Sociology GPA in Major: 3.2

Should I staple my resume to my cover letter?
No...avoid staples and paper clips. Try to avoid folding your resume, too. Why? It's likely that your resume will be photocopied for the hiring team or else scanned into a resume database. So, if a recruiter needs to rip out staples, there is a risk that the copy of your resume will look less than perfect. So...keep it simple, and don't staple. However, make sure that your name is on each page of your resume and each document that you submit.

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