This Year Give Your Graduate A Job!

by Kelli Ellenburg, CPRW, PHR


From high school to doctoral school, most graduates have one thing in common. They need a job. When you have more time than money, or if you just like bestowing creative gifts, prepare a job-winning resume for the special graduate. The following five tips will help you get started:

  1. Forget the templates. Search for resume layout examples on the Internet for ideas before you turn to the boring templates that are loaded in your word processor software. Everyone else you know is using the same prefabricated format and design. This will not help your graduate's resume stand out. At the same time, avoid using hard to read designer fonts or unusual bullet styles. These might make the resume stand out for all of the wrong reasons.

  2. Skip the "objective." The employer already knows that the job seeker's objective is getting a job! Instead of using valuable space to convey the obvious, introduce the employer to your graduate by way of a summary of their skills and qualifications. Write the summary as if it is the only information the hiring manager will read. If the information is not interesting enough, it just might be! Remember that you only have about 13 seconds to capture the attention of the resume reviewer. Make this space count. Include impressive but often-overlooked details such as foreign language fluency, a willingness to travel or relocate, and specialized computer skills. While it may be appropriate to include an objective statement in some instances, do not list it under an entirely separate heading. Rather, fold it into the summary.

  3. Emphasize the education. As a recent graduate, education should generally be positioned just below the summary mentioned above. With few exceptions, degrees and GPAs are quite relevant to the job search until one establishes a solid work history, at which time the academic information may no longer warrant center stage. As your graduate adds to his or her professional work experience, he or she can exclude things like GPA. But, for now, this adds weight to his or her candidacy.

  4. Accentuate the positive. List your graduate's jobs in reverse chronological order and emphasize what they accomplished over day-to-day responsibilities. Did they improve a procedure? Save money? Implement a new idea? Receive a customer accolade? An employer is more interested in achievements than a laundry list of job duties. Titles like Cashier or Salesman often explain enough in terms of daily responsibilities. Take their job experience one step further by telling the hiring manager about what they accomplished and, presumably, can duplicate with their next employer.

  5. Omit the obvious. If your graduate has completed a Bachelor's degree, there is generally no need to list high school information (although some international employers may be interested in secondary education). Avoid using the trite phrase, "References available upon request" at the end of the document. It is stale and outdated. Employers will not typically ask for this information unless your graduate is considered to be a serious candidate. Mentioning references at this early stage is not necessary.

While a resume should be tailored for each job to which a candidate applies based on the skills and qualifications being sought by the employer, the above tips will assist you in preparing a foundational document, which your graduate can customize as needed. Now that's a gift that could really pay off!


Kelli Ellenburg is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Professional in Human Resources (PHR). She has more than ten years of industry experience.

Take the Next Step:

  • Graduation season will be here before you know it, so it's time to start thinking about the special graduates in your life. If you have more time than money, or if you just like giving creative gifts, prepare a job-winning resume for the special graduate. The above five tips are a great place to start.

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