We aren’t born knowing how to write a professional resume and, frankly, this essential skill typically isn’t taught in either high school or college. Unfortunately, this document is the first impression you make on a potential employer so it truly needs to be flawless. If you are heading into the job market and crafting your first resume, here are a few items that you absolutely should include.
1. Contact Information
Sure, this one seems obvious. You need to put your name, a phone number and an email address on your resume and everyone knows that. However, we’ve seen many resumes that include incorrect or inappropriate contact information on them. Be sure, first of all, to triple-check that you put the correct phone number and email address.
If you want your professional resume to look professional, take a quick look at your email address. It should be something like johnsmith@gmail or lynnrogers7@yahoo. If it looks like cutegirl101@hotmail or fratboy007@aol then you look more like a kooky college kid than a professional adult entering the workforce. Email addresses are free, so spend three minutes signing up for an email address just for business purposes and make it look like a professional email.
2. Educational Background
If you have been in the workforce for several years, you need only list your college information. However, if this is your first professional resume and you are fresh out of college or trade school, it is alright to list your high school graduation date. Employers can’t really inquire about your age, but this provides them with some information about your level of experience. Don’t worry too much about being young and inexperienced. If it’s an entry-level post, most of the candidates will have had limited professional work experience and hiring teams understand this fact.
To expound upon your qualifications, consider adding relevant coursework or perhaps a minor that relates to the field in which you are applying on your professional resume. For instance, maybe you are applying for a job that does a great deal of business in other countries. If you have a minor in Spanish, Mandarin or another language, this could be beneficial to list. Likewise if you are applying for a job in engineering and you have a degree in engineering with a minor in surveying, list that information.
3. Relevant Work Experience & Training
If you are young, you probably have limited work experience but have still held a few part-time jobs. This experience is valuable, so place it on your professional resume. Likewise, if you have volunteer experience perhaps with a youth group, at a homeless shelter or on a political campaign, this can be good information to add. Skip the under-the-table jobs such as lawn mowing or baby-sitting. It’s great that you did those jobs, but they don’t belong on a professional resume.
For those who are in college now and have a few more years until graduation, it is wise to start building up your resume. Take on a part-time job or volunteer for a cause near and dear to your heart. This will help you gain experience and some good references and perhaps future business contacts. If possible, inquire about internships that fit within the field of employment that interests you. Whether paid or unpaid, internships truly can be worth their weight in gold. They provide you with tangible work experience and provide you with a true glimpse at your future job.
When it comes to skills and training, be sure to list relevant computer programs and other training and certifications you might possess. For instance, if you are applying for a post as a graphic designer, list any relevant design and photo editing software in which you are proficient.
As a young person, you won’t have the type of references that can speak to your ability to accomplish tasks in your chosen field. You probably delivered pizzas, waited tables, manned a cash register or maybe stocked grocery shelves. However, your former employers can speak about your attitude regarding work, your professionalism, your punctuality and how you handled co-workers and customers. This is highly valuable information, so be sure to put references on your professional resume that will sing your praises. Just be sure that the contact information you provide for each reference is correct.
If you have a reference from a work experience that was unpleasant or from a boss unlikely to give you a shining review, don’t add that person as a reference. Hiring teams understand that you might have had a dud of a boss or been stuck in a difficult working environment, but you should be prepared to explain why you left that person off the list if asked. Simply give a brief unemotional description of the situation and, if possible, put a positive spin on it, describing what you gained from this difficult experience.
A professional resume contains a great deal of information but it should never run longer than a single page. This is especially true if you are seeking an entry-level job. You can expound upon your abilities and goals in your cover letter, but that also should be no longer than one page. Ensuring that you have the best information and have eliminated anything irrelevant can be difficult, which is why we recommend that you leave your resume writing to the professionals and select one of our top-rated resume writing services.