Career Advice

New Grad: Don't Sell Yourself Short On Your Resume

Imagine for a moment, a marathon runner who has trained for years, only to stop short of the finish line. The runner has all but won the race, and a mere couple of inches are all that are needed to collect the trophy, applause and accolades they so richly deserve for all the hard work and self sacrifice they’ve put themselves through. But instead, the runner stands idly by, as one after another of the competitors cross the finish line.

Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

As a recent college grad, you definitely know a thing or two about hard work and self-sacrifice – not to mention the monetary investment necessary for a quality college education. Even those who receive full scholarships will still find out that college isn’t cheap.

However, keep in mind that graduation is not the finish line. Using that hard-earned degree to land your first job is. And you will have plenty of competition for that trophy.

Investing yourself into a well-written resume can be your best bet for making certain yours is the first chest to break the finish-line tape. As in our example above, not doing so could very well find you standing only a breath away from the win, as your competition runs past.

Consider these five suggestions when writing your story.

1) Remember, the resume is about you, but it must be written for the reader. It should compel them to action, that action being, calling you in for an interview.

2) Be certain to use language in your resume that is apropos to the industry and for the types of roles to which you are applying. Research target companies through Glassdoor, Google,,, local small business journals and a plethora of other resources available to identify vital information that helps YOU to articulate in your resume that you understand the target companies’ pain points and you can hit the ground running as a problem solver.

3) It is imperative to not simply list coursework and degree consummated, but to vividly and pragmatically communicate the value you offered while employed in internships or part-time jobs while going to school. As well, what special university projects did you contribute to, especially within your major field of study, and which relate to your career objectives? Include those, digging deeply to describe what unique value YOU specifically offered. What ideas for process or for solutions building did you offer, and did your project team implement your ideas?

Did you participate in a sorority or fraternity? If so, beyond partying, what committees did you participate in or chair? For example, if you headed the recruiting committee, what percentage growth did the organization experience during your tenure? Quantify it on your resume.

What else are you proud of, and why? And why would it matter to your target reader? If it does meet the ‘so-what’ test, then include it, succinctly and with impact. Add a pithy story of the ‘how and why’ you did what you did, to entice the reader, you can do the same thing for them.

4) Get over the one-page college graduate resume ‘rule of thumb.’ That’s outdated. It’s not to say a one-page resume is in any way bad; it’s just not the only option. Do you really think that if a hiring decision-maker, a president of a local start-up or an HR representative at the local widget company runs across your compelling 2-page resume story that really speaks to THEIR needs, they’ll say, “Forget it – we can’t hire him; his resume is one page too long“?

5) Consider speaking with a professional writer to get you going in the right direction. This investment is normally quite small compared to what you’ve already spent so far and can be priceless in the knowledge you gain, the interviews you net, and ultimately the salary that you land. An old saying goes, “Don’t trip over a dollar to save a nickel.”

Remember, your resume is about You Inc., so don’t sell yourself short.