Recent Grads Creatively Optimize Their Resumes

August 21, 2013

……………..New grads can be thankful that the employment picture continues to improve, but they’ll still have to be creative to snag the job they want. And since resumes are the first impression a respective employer receives, successful applicants know that’s where their creativity should start. They offer polished resumes that reflect careful consideration of how to present experience lapses and other concerns.

The Basics

With so much great information available today, careful job seekers will read up on how to write a winning resume and how to avoid common pitfalls. Websites supply templates that the writer can use to create her own perfectly formatted resume and advise on topics such as whether or not to include an Objective or a Qualifications Summary.

But not all grads feel comfortable or have the time to create their first post college resume, so they seek services such as Resume Edge, with experienced resume writers to help them present their experience in the best light. Whether a candidate chooses to attack resume writing on his own or seek aid from a professional service, his goal will be to create the best reflection of his experience and abilities. Below are some of the new tactics that self-resume writers and professionals alike are considering to make their c.v.’s stand out in a crowded field.

STEM Up Your Resume

Since 2000, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related jobs for college graduates have grown about one third faster than have non-STEM jobs. Over the same period, which included the recession, wage growth fell an inflation-adjusted 5.5% for non-STEM vs. a near flat change for STEM jobs. New college grads see the writing on the wall: STEM jobs are in higher demand and mean better pay. So what’s a university senior Art History major to do? If your lifelong dream is be head curator at the Louvre, by all means pursue it, but you might want to have a back-up plan. Create a STEMier resume highlighting the science, technology, math or quantitative business courses you took and the analytical aspects of your summer jobs and school club positions. An English major I know wisely incorporated budgeting and purchasing analysis language in the description of her summer job as an Office Assistant. Therefore, she was able to highlight some accounting acumen that she brought to bear in her otherwise non-analytical role.

Of course many students are planning ahead and, even if they don’t major in a tech oriented subject, try to load up on those courses prior to graduation. Demonstrating proficiency in analytical courses will be enough of an indication of quantitative skills to some STEM hirers to land the applicant a job. When I reviewed resumes for new college graduates at my investment bank, I realized that most 22 year olds don’t have jaw-dropping experience; I looked predominantly for three things. Was the candidate motivated to work? Was she smart? Did she demonstrate an aptitude for analytical subjects? I would definitely prefer a smart, involved, humanities major showing a proficiency in computer science and accounting than a middle of the pack finance major with scattered activities, none of them too demanding.

You Are What They Want

Savvy students get into the industry hirer’s head and figure out exactly what he’s looking for. They look at industry literature and job descriptions for their ideal job and reflect that wording in their resumes, both in their summer experience and their activities. If a job seeker is looking to enter the advertising industry, research will tell her that entry level jobs involve working on campaigns using a knowledge of marketing, promotion, creative, design and public relations. Maybe the waitressing job she had last summer won’t highlight any of those skill sets but the 5K race she organized gave her experience in all those areas. Not only will a recruiter hone in on the industry language but if the hiring company uses a resume-sorting computer program, a c.v. will pop to the top since the key words are included.

The Job Market is Your Stage

A new trend embraced upon by some recent graduates is use of the video resume. These are short clips that allow applicants to describe their experiences in more animated ways than traditional resumes. This personal marketing piece is highly controversial with blogging fans and critics are happy to tell you which side they fall on. The proponents argue it’s a low cost way to quickly check out an applicant. Detractors point to some disaster stories of those who would have fared better if they had stuck to the paper method.

Although clearly riskier than a traditional c.v., video resumes seem to be slowly catching on, especially with recruiters in the entertainment, media, communications, hospitality and retail industries. As for young grads venturing into other industries, if you have the poise, presentation skills and experience of someone twice your age, you might consider it, but only if you have good reason to believe the receiver will be receptive to your approach.


Effective job candidates often succeed only after they’ve stopped mid-course and responded to input from others on their resume and interview style. A graduate from my business school recently asked me to conduct a mock interview to help him determine where he was going wrong. He had tremendous success interviewing between business school years but wasn’t getting any traction during his second and final B-school year, when it really counted. He hadn’t received an offer after his summer job because all his advocates left the firm. After I heard his story, I could see how recruiters may not have been completely convinced that he would have been offered a job; he hadn’t given enough details. So we honed his presentation and added references to his resume to back-up the grad’s claim that he would have received an offer had his advocates stayed. With these small changes, it didn’t take long for his luck to turn around.

We’ve all had experiences where we felt like somebody less qualified than ourselves got the nod for an internship, a club position, an award, or a team. But the lucky person that nabs a full time job may have demonstrated less luck and more creativity on her resume. For just a single piece of paper, it’s surprisingly important.