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How to Write Your First Resume

You're about to step onto the job market for the very first time (or for the first time in many years), and you're ready to face your first big challenge as a job seeker: creating a convincing and professional-looking resume. Where should you start? And how can you overcome some off the difficulties that are unique to novices like yourself?

First off, keep in mind that you're not alone. New grads, young people, and returning workers just like you face this challenge every day, and once you've landed your first job, you'll start gaining the experience and network connections that will make future job hunts feel more natural. Just grab that first rung and you'll be on your way up the ladder. Here are a few moves that can help.

Formatting comes first.

As you create your resume, formatting and layout will be critical. Your resume needs to be recognizable to both human readers and to the software systems that more and more recruiters are using for preliminary scanning. Not to mention, as most recruiters only spend 6 seconds glancing at a resume, your document will need to be easily readable. This makes the review process easier and it facilitates fair comparisons between one candidate and the next.

Begin with a summary.

At the top of your document, just under your name and contact information, create a short summary of your most important credentials. This section should take up about three to five lines. Be sure to keep this section concise and concrete. Think about what kind of person the employer is looking for, and then craft this part of your resume in a way that both brings out your best qualities and shows the hiring manager that you're the candidate they're looking for.

Bring out your education and work experience sections.

Follow the summary with your education and work experience sections. Your education section should include a one line entry for each degree or education credential you've earned, including your institution and course of study. Your work experience section might be a little more challenging, since this job will technically be your first. Since you can't create a list of your past positions, consider including unpaid community service, volunteer efforts, extracurricular or sports leadership positions, club posts you've held, projects you've worked on and any entrepreneurial jobs you've done that showcase the fact that you have the skills and know-how to get the job done.

Finish by listing your skills.

In the final section of your resume, create a list of your special skills that would be relevant and attractive to this employer. These include any software skills you have, foreign languages you speak, artistic skills, fund raising skills, and interpersonal skills (like conflict resolution, coaching, or negotiation). Remember, you don't have to prove you hold these skills in this one page document—just be prepared to back up your statements when you're asked about them later. Similarly, make sure that each skill you're including would be useful to the employer; if the job doesn't require photography, rather use the limited space you have to list another skill that the employer would be more interested in knowing about.

Once these basic sections are on the page, go back and edit them until they represent you at your best. Then start sending your document off to employers and you'll be on your way!

For guidance and templates that can help you launch your career journey, turn to MyPerfectResume.

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