Entry Level Resume

So, you are or soon will be a new college graduate looking for that first full-time job. Yes, you need a resume! It’s the best way to market yourself to prospective employers even though you may have little or no job experience.

How do you create your first resume?

There are two main approaches. The approach you take will depend on your college major, your part-time work experience while in high school and college and on the competencies you’ve developed.

Approach #1 - College Major Leads to A Specific Job Area

  • Was your major in an area that is easily transferable to the job market?
  • Did you major in education? Computers? Marketing? Finance?

These and similar majors lead to somewhat easily definable jobs and a clear career path:

  • Education — an elementary school teaching job.
  • Computers — a programming or systems analyst job
  • Marketing — an account manager job at a marketing firm or a corporate communications job.
  • Finance — a job with a bank or in the financial department of a corporation.

Why is this important? Because:

  • You can state a specific objective for your job search.
  • You have a good idea of which employers will be interested in your resume.

Click here to see a recent grad's resume. A new window will open, Just click on the X to return to this page.

Note that this recent grad had part-time jobs that fit in with her goal in graphic design. The job with UCSD was volunteer, not paid, but it counts toward her work experience. Note also how she highlights her Achievements first—this is what employers want to see, but as a recent graduate you might also start with Education.

Particularly because she is in a creative field, Jessie Jobseeker may also want to create an ePortfolio. Using an ePortfolio, she can show examples of the work that she did as an intern. If her material is good, this would be a great way to impress possible employers.

Approach #2 - Major Does Not Lead to A Specific Job Area

Were you an English major? Psychology? Sociology? You may have an excellent liberal arts education but no specific career path.

That's OK!

What you do have are transferable competencies that will work in a variety of jobs and industries. You just need to get your foot in the door, and a good resume can help you do that.

  • The functional resume format, which focuses attention on skills and achievements, rather than a chronological listing of jobs ideal for recent grads.
  • Your goal is to market yourself based on these competencies and on your achievements so far, both educational and in part-time jobs, either paid or volunteer.

But first, dream a little. You may have little or no idea about the kind of job you want, but try picturing yourself in some jobs you might enjoy.

How are these jobs similar? Are they outside or inside? Working with people or with technology? Travel and flexible hours or 9:00 to 5:00? Use this information to narrow down the entry-level jobs that are out there.

  • Did you know that over 30% of Americans change careers—not jobs, careers—more than three times in their lifetime? Looked at that way, you may not need to agonize too long over your first job.
  • Rather than it being the perfect fit for you for the rest of your life, think about how it might help you develop some expertise or give you additional experience that will either lead to a better resume, a decision on what to study in graduate school, or new skills leading to a more suitable job.

Click here to see the resume of a recent college grad who needs to rely on transferable skills rather than on directly related experience.

Last Tip

You may also want to see the job skills assessment on this site to help you decide whether you have the skills needed for a particular job or industry. That will help you narrow down the places you will submit your resume.