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Recent Grads: 5 Entry-Level Resume Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs

If you were one of the millions of students who graduated from college in 2018, congratulations! Not only is this a major milestone, but you are entering one of the strongest job markets for new grads in over a decade!

With unemployment at a historic low of 3.9%, employers are planning on hiring more recent grads than they have in years. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 80% of employers expect to hire college graduates this year—which is up from 58% in 2008.

Despite this positive outlook, it is still a very competitive market for new grads. As a result, those still looking for a job should be aware of certain mistakes that could be holding them back from success. Since your resume is often the first impression you will make on a prospective employer, this is the first place you should start when looking to make improvements.

To get a better idea of what separates the best entry-level resumes from the pack, we have asked Louise Kursmark, a resume expert and career consultant, for her list of top entry-level resume mistakes.

Continue reading to learn more from Louise:

Mistake #1: A Lack of Focus

Many new grads struggle to be specific about what they’re looking for when writing their resumes. Whether it’s because you aren’t sure what type of job you want or are concerned about appearing too narrow minded, this is an entry-level resume mistake that can hurt you in the long run. This is especially true if you are applying for jobs online, where most employers use applicant tracking systems to find candidates with resumes that meet the job’s requirements.

To ensure your resume gets picked up by these search tools, it should be tailored to each specific role you are applying to. You can also create a broader version of your resume as a starting point as well as a tool to use in general networking conversations.

Mistake #2: Poor Organization

Without concrete work experience, it can be difficult to discern how to organize your entry-level resume. While an experienced professional might have an easier time highlighting their chronological work history, for example, new grads often have a variety of experiences that seem unrelated. Instead of looking at this experience strategically, however, many recent grads rely too heavily on a chronological resume format that lists every single job they have held over the years.

On the other hand, a functional resume can help emphasize the skills you’ve acquired over your college career. Since you can hand select the specialized knowledge and transferable skills applicable to the position (and list them at the top), this format will make it easier for a hiring manager to see how you’re qualified for the role.

Mistake #3: Overlooking Accomplishments and Relevant Coursework

One of the most challenging parts about putting together an entry-level resume is finding ways to highlight your professional accomplishments. As a result, many recent grads make the mistake of writing task-based resumes without any focus on past accomplishments.

To better convey the value you’d bring to the organization, go beyond basic internship and job descriptions by detailing the ways you’ve improved a process, solved a challenge, or achieved results. If you do not have a lot of internship or job experience, highlighting any relevant coursework, projects, or presentations you’ve completed can demonstrate your industry knowledge as well as your potential to meet the demands of the job.

Mistake #4: Falling Victim to the One-Page “Rule”

Choosing narrow margins and tiny font for the sake of cramming all of the content onto one page is an entry-level resume mistake that can cost you. With only a few seconds to review each incoming application, hard-to-read resumes will automatically land in the rejected pile. If you can’t eliminate any of the content, employers will not mind if your resume goes onto the second page. To help make your resume easier to read (without going overboard), you can also incorporate a pop of color, add columns, and use separating lines.

Mistake #5: Not Proofreading

Everyone can miss a typo or grammatical error—especially when continuously rearranging content to match different job listings. This seemingly minor oversight can raise some red flags about your attention to detail, which is a skill that hiring managers specifically look out for when hiring entry-level candidates. As a result, always give your resume a final review before pressing send.