How To Write Your First Resume: 11 Tips To Getting It Right
Resume tips to help you land your first job.
Writing your first resume sucks. You don't know what to include, what to exclude and where to begin. Follow my resume writing advice to write your resume for the first time, impress potential employers and land your first job.
While that may sound daunting, remember that every professional—even the most successful—wrote their first resume at some point. Know that you’re in good company. Consider the competition a healthy challenge.
Now read on for answers in these 11 tips which show you how to write your first resume, and I’ll be there with you every step of the way.
Yes, you don’t have any corporate experience. But you have had applicable life experiences which can translate into marketable skills if you take the time to think through the connections.
So before you begin to actually write your first resume, make a short list of the most potent experiences/achievements throughout your academic career.
Start by reviewing the 3 types of skills recruiters screen for:
Job-related: Skills you need to do the job.
Example: “Developed an online marketing plan.”
Transferable: Skills that can apply to any job.
Example: “Fluent in Japanese.”
Adaptive: Skills that equip you to interact with other humans.
Example: “Emotional intelligence.”
Once you have a good sense of what you have to offer an employer, you’re ready to take the next step in writing your first resume.
2. Determine Your Direction.
Unless you focused your studies on liberal arts or native basket weaving, you likely determined your desired field of work during your academic tenure.
However, given the statistic I quoted above (250+ applications per corporate job), it’s wise to consider several types of roles that would start your career right.
A great way to do this is to find a handful of job postings that interest you and use them as your guide. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Comb Through Relevant Job Postings.
Once you’ve identified your skills and interests within the context of what is available in the market now, look for synergies between your experiences and the requirements of the job(s) you are applying for.
Note any relevant keywords.
If you want your resume to be seen, make sure it includes keywords/phrases from the job description(s) you’ve landed on.
Most large Australian (and global) companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to screen their applications. This technology scans your resume for keywords that match up with the job posting.
BONUS TIP: As you write your resume for the first time keep your language fluent, yet direct.
8. Keep It Brief.
While most Australian resumes are 3-4 pages, your first resume should be shorter.
Stay lean and concise. Ruthlessly eliminate fluff. Your first resume should be about 1-2 pages.
At this point in your life you don’t have much work experience to brag about, however you can (and should) include other notable achievements which demonstrate your motivation, curiosity, competitiveness and discipline:
Were you the school captain?
Were you on the school debating team?
Did you compete in cross country running?
When did you overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers?
When did you succeed where others fumbled?
When did you receive a unique opportunity?
Were you awarded for doing great work?
Did you volunteer?
All of the above make great—and relevant—additions to your first resume.
9. Stick With The Functional Resume Format.
While this isn’t the only type of resume format, it’s ideal for your first resume since it highlights your skills and abilities over work experience.
The functional format consists of:
Career objectives statement
Skills and abilities
Fortunately, we’ve already covered the meatiest ones in the tips above.