What was the moral behind the Goldilocks story? It has admittedly been a while since I last read it, but from memory, she was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to getting things just right. And because of that, life didn’t turn out so well for her. So too with writing your graduate resume. There are so many tips and tricks published about writing the perfect resume that you would be forgiven for thinking that it is a task akin to building a nuclear powered submarine. Not true.

Your best graduate resume is succinct, honest and reflects who you are.

Admittedly, if it is too long it is unlikely to be read, and if it is too short, a recruiter might think you don’t have sufficient experience. This is the Goldilocks Principle applied to resumes: your resume should fall within extreme margins, but it really is not hard to build a perfect resume.

By the same token, the best graduate resumes do stand out, but not so much that they have to be reformatted by the recruiter (or thrown in the bin because you used too many pink emoticons).

Resume structure

Take the time to research the organisation you are trying to join. Make use of information you’ve found on the company’s website. For instance, if you know that the company you’re applying for has a goal to improve the well-being of elderly people, make mention of that in your career objective by stating that you would want to work for a company which promotes healthy living. This shows your employer that you have a genuine interest for the company and that you pay attention to detail.

To help your graduate resume stand out, include some of your personality in the text. Take a moment to understand yourself better by becoming a Successful Graduate member. Try to convey your professional personality throughout the text of your resume, and avoid the use of humor. Outline your 5 core values and your soft skills.

In many countries, employment laws make it illegal for employers to enquire about your marital status, political preferences, age, or sexual orientation. I would not include this information in your resume, and I would also advise that you do not list your visa status if you feel it might not be in your favour. The purpose of your resume is to give you the best chance of making it to an interview, so don’t give an employer a reason to exclude you from the process.

I have written elsewhere about the tendency for more employers to learn more about you through your social media accounts. You might be surprised to learn how much information there already is about you on the internet, and not all of it is likely to help you with your job search. Take the time to adjust your privacy settings, and amend or delete any content that you wouldn’t like employers to see. Remember that LinkedIn is a professional/career oriented social media platform. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, take the Successful Graduate course to learn how to create one and make sure that is aligns with your resume. You will be able to see who has visited your profile.

When do you use a CV and not a resume?

There used to be a clear difference between a resume, or résumé and a CV, or curriculum vitae (Latin for ‘the course of my life’). Traditionally, the three major differences that existed between CVs and resumes were the length, the purpose and the layout. A CV is a brief summary of your skills and experience over one or two pages, a resume is more detailed and can stretch well beyond two pages (although I’d advise to make it no more than four pages). The resume will be tailored to each position whereas the CV will stay put and any changes will be in the cover letter. The reason I think the above definitions are outdated is that we now live in a connected world. Some countries used to have a culture of using either a CV or a resume, but as more and more employees and employers globalised, the lines of tradition were blurred. Employers in the UK used to request CVs, in America resumes were most often used, and oddly, in Australia sometimes applicants used both. I don’t think it matters what definition the several pieces of paper you use to describe your skills base falls under. At the end of the day, what matters most is that you capture the attention of your reader, you succinctly describe what makes you the perfect candidate for the job, and you do so in a manner that is honest, brief, professional and compelling.

Industry best practice

There are way too many confusing websites that offer resume templates and resume building advice. Why download a template that will make your resume look like everyone else’s?

By all means take the time to research best practice resumes for your industry. A good resource is the resumegenius.com website.

However, you need to remember that you are unique, and have your own story to give an employer.

If you think you have an outstanding graduate resume template that has worked for you, why not share it via our Facebook or LinkedIn groups.


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