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Your First Professional Resume

Posted Tuesday, August 14, 2012, at 9:01 PM

Now that you have graduated, it's time to put together your first professional resume. While this may seem like a daunting task, it doesn't need to be at all! This is your chance to showcase your skills and background to make you stand out in a field of applicants. Different jobs and internships will post what they are looking for in terms of qualifications, so it's best to begin with one resume and tweak as necessary.

The first thing you need to include is your personal contact information. Most people will choose to put this on the top of the page in either the left corner or the center. This should include your first and last name with an optional middle initial on the first line, your permanent, non-college address on the second and third lines, a phone number where a prospective employer can reach you with the greatest ease on the fourth line, and a professional email address where you can be contacted on the fifth line. If your college email address may expire after your graduate, your best bet is to use an alternate email or create a new account. If your current personal email address embarrasses you or is not entirely savory, it is also a good idea to create a more modest email address, perhaps one that contains your name.

The rest of the resume is where you have many choices when it comes to the order of information you wish to include as well as the formatting of the resume. For some ideas of formatting, College Student Jobs is a great resource. Some resumes will include an "Objective" section where you can state what your goal is in obtaining a job. If a job requires a cover letter, the objective section may be omitted. Headers for each section of your resume such as "Education" and "Professional Experience" can make a resume much easier for an employer to read through. It draws their eyes to the relevant information. If the job you are applying for directly relates to your college major or minor, it would be prudent to put your education information at the top of your resume. Include the year you graduated, the name of the school and the city or town where it is located, your GPA, and in which programs you majored and minored.

If your job is related more to prior work or internship experience you've had, you may opt to put that information before your education information. Include the name of the company, your job title, what years you worked there, and list at least three responsibilities you had. Using bullet points is acceptable.

A third section may include awards or acknowledgments you've received either at school, such as being part of an honor society, or at work, such as a bonus or a grant for some specific work you've completed. Here is your chance to give yourself an edge over competitors.

Finally, you may want to include a short list of additional skills you possess, especially those related to the job you're applying for. For example, you may be skilled in a certain computer program, bilingual in Spanish, or have excellent phone skills. These are all worth mentioning to a potential employer who may be looking specifically for someone with an additional skill.

Always have a friend or relative look over your resume before submitting it. A second pair of eyes is almost always invaluable. Good luck writing your resume and you'll get that first job in no time!

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I am a masters level career counselor. I am internationally certified as a Career Management Practitioner (CMP) by the Institute for Career Certification International and have been recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through the National Board for Certified Counselors.
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