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Resume tips to get your first job

To be in the running for your first job – whether that’s a part-time job during high school or a ‘career’ job when you’ve finished uni – you need to know what employers are looking for. It can be a bit daunting applying for your first job when you don’t have job experience yet. The good news is there are heaps of things you can put on your resume that will showcase your talents and give employers an idea of your strengths.

So what should you put on your resume when you’re applying for your first job? Nicole Bond, Career Consultant in Deakin University’s Graduate Employment Division, explains what to include – and what not to include.

What do employers look for in a resume?

Employers look for relevance and transferable skills. Don’t highlight your footy awards if you’re going for a job in a legal firm, highlight your captaincy or leadership skills. According to Bond, you need to tailor and target your resume to the role you’re applying for, to show the employer what you have to offer and why they should hire you.

Resumes should be clear and easy to read – ‘use a simple and consistent format,’ Bond says. As a minimum, ‘include your personal details, opening statement, education, any relevant work experience and references’. You can also sign up for Deakin’s Resume & Application Workshops if you need a hand.

Although most applications are submitted online, employers may require you to upload your resume as part of the application process. Bond advises first-timers ‘to have a general resume tailored and targeted to industries or specific employers – something to give face to face or via email as required’. Dial up or dial down the relevant selling points to match the job you’re applying for.

Include volunteering and extra-curricular activities

Have you pitched in and volunteered somewhere? You might not have got paid, but volunteering and extra-curricular activities do pay off, as they are great ways to show that you have initiative. They demonstrate community involvement and, more importantly, transferable skills.

Bond explains, ‘there may be skills you have built and used in these experiences that you haven’t yet had a chance to build through employment. So including volunteering and extra-curricular activities on your resume can emphasise transferable skills or demonstrate new transferable skills’.

Employers look for more than just a graduation certificate – they want to see that you have some well-rounded experience beyond study. ‘Start building relevant experience through internships, volunteering or part-time employment,’ Bond says. Volunteering is a great way to network and it gives you new experiences that you can talk to a potential employer about, making you much more employable.

Include professional social media links

Most of us use social media in one way or another, but when you’re trying to establish yourself as a professional, it’s important you stand out online in a positive way. Bond advises that ‘online accounts for personal/social use should be set to private but, even then, consider what is posted by you and about you’.

You might come off as reliable and professional in an interview, but a simple search of social media might reveal you to be a total party animal. Keep your personal and professional profiles nice and separate, and ask your mates to get on board too.

Make sure your professional abilities have an online presence. ‘LinkedIn is a professional networking site and a great way to showcase yourself online to employers. You may not have much to add professionally now, but it is a good way for you to track experiences, get job alerts, network online, and research employers, sectors, and industries,’ Bond says.

What not to include on your resume

‘Your resume for your first job should not include personal information such as age, date of birth, marital status, family details or nationality,’ Bond explains. ‘It should focus on showcasing your ability to do the job.’ Don’t go over the top with your abilities either – false or exaggerated content is a big no-no.

Top tip to get your first job: always, always run a spell check and read over your resume.

Now you know how, go forth and go get that job!

You’ve nailed your resume, now get help writing your cover letter.

Next step – tips on preparing for a job interview.

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Nicole Bond
Nicole Bond

Career Consultant, Graduate Employment Division, Deakin University

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