group of college students sitting on lawn with laptops
From using the proper keywords to highlighting soft skills, there are several ways recent grads can make their resumes stand out when embarking on new careers. — Getty Images/yacobchuk

If you’re looking for your first job out of college, then putting together a strong resume will make the job search much easier. But it can be hard to know what to include in a resume if you have limited work history. Check out these seven tips for some ideas on how to create a resume that stands out.

Create a strong summary

A resume summary is a brief statement that explains why you’re the best candidate for the job. It highlights your qualifications and gives the hiring manager an overview of what you bring to the table.

Hiring managers often browse through hundreds of resumes, so creating an impactful summary is the best way to help yours stand out. This guide will show you how to put together a strong summary statement.

Include keywords in your resume

Hiring managers will often scan a resume and look to see if certain job-related keywords are included. For instance, if you’re trying to land a marketing job, you’ll want to include that you’re skilled at using Google AdWords, Google Analytics and Facebook for Business.

When you’re including keywords in your resume, you want to be as specific and detailed as possible. Identify keywords that are relevant to the position you’re looking for and then spread these throughout your resume. These tips can help you understand how to identify and utilize keywords.

Emphasize your academic achievements

If you just graduated from college, then it’s acceptable to include a GPA on your resume. If your GPA is a 3.5 or higher, this demonstrates a strong work ethic and personal drive.

Once you have two to three years of job history you can drop your GPA, but it can give your resume a nice boost in the beginning. Check out this guide to see how to include a GPA on your resume.

If you want to catch a hiring manager’s attention, it helps to include a professional job title describing the type of work you’re looking to do.

Point out your soft skills

Potential employers are interested in more than just the technical skills you bring to the table; they also want to know what kind of soft skills you have to offer. Soft skills include things like problem solving, leadership, time management and adaptability.

Take some time to evaluate your soft skills and the attributes that have helped you be successful in other areas of your life. You can ask family, friends and former co-workers for their feedback as well. This guide will teach you how to highlight your soft skills on a resume.

[Read more: Soft Skills are Hard to Find: Hiring Beyond the Resume]

Include an effective cover letter

Unfortunately, a resume isn’t enough on its own — you also need to include a cover letter. Many hiring managers agree that a thoughtful, well-written cover letter is the most important part of any job application.

It’s okay to use a template for a cover letter, but make sure you personalize it for each company. Be sure to focus on any relevant experience that makes you a good fit for the job. For more on creating a strong cover letter, check out this template.

Choose a professional job title

If you want to catch a hiring manager’s attention, it helps to include a professional job title describing the type of work you’re looking to do.

Ideally, your job title should be four words or less and should include keywords that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Don’t overthink your job title, but you do want it to stand out to anyone reading your resume. You can review this guide to learn more about how to create a strong job title.

[Read more: 8 Top Recruiting Tools for Hiring Managers]

Keep your resume short and concise

Finally, you want to keep your resume brief. It doesn’t need to be longer than a page. For recent college graduates, a hiring manager is not going to expect you to have a long resume. If your resume is too long, this means you’ve probably included a lot of unnecessary information.

Keep your resume as concise as possible and only include information that demonstrates why you’re the best candidate for the job. Make it easy to scan and quickly review, like this resume template.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published June 10, 2020