10 great tips to draft your post-graduation resume

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Bryan Smith - December, 12 2023

9 min read

About the author

Content Manager at Prodigy Finance, helping international students gear up to study abroad

A well-written resume helps open doors to job opportunities after graduation. It’s worth taking the time to craft a strong resume as it significantly improves your chances to land the job of your dreams.

This written introduction should describe you, as a brand, and promote you, your skills as well as engage the attention of your future employer. It’s a useful marketing tool that suggests you’re the ideal candidate for any job you may apply for.

The word ‘resume’ comes from the French word résumé, meaning “a summary.” A contemporary resume summarises your transferable skills, employment history, education, and experiences in a simple and concise format for potential employers.

Most importantly, it serves to represent you when you’re not there. Once uploaded to online global job boards, like Monster or CareerBuilder, it can be sent to a recruiter’s online database and shared with many recruiters without you even knowing about it.

This is why it’s critical to position your resume correctly so it makes an exceptional first impression on your behalf. In this article, we’ll discuss some useful tips for drafting a powerful resume.

Customisation is key

Every job is unique so it makes sense that your resume speaks directly to the specific skills and qualities an employer looks for when recruiting for particular roles. Tailoring your resume for each application helps you connect with the specific needs of the employer, as well as the employer themselves, and present you the best way possible for each opportunity.

Tailoring your resume indicates that you're genuinely interested in this specific job, not just any job. By taking the time to customise your resume, it shows that you can adapt and tailor your skills to meet the requirements of different roles.

How to customise your resume

  • Carefully read the job description: Highlight key phrases and skills mentioned in the job description and identify the most important requirements
  • Match your skills: Align your skills and experiences with what the employer is looking for, using the same language as the job description to describe your skills
  • Focus on relevant experience: It should relate directly to the job, prioritising achievements and tasks that align with the job's requirements
  • Use keywords: Incorporate industry-specific keywords from the job description as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) often scan for these keywords
  • Quantify achievements: Where possible, use numbers to quantify your achievements
  • Adjust the sections: If certain experiences or skills are more relevant, swop the order so they appear first
  • **Research the company: **Tailor not only for the job but also talk to the company's values and culture if possible
  • Proofread: Make sure your resume is error-free

Use a strong objective or summary

A strong resume objective serves as a quick introduction to your goals and talents, summing them up in a few sentences. It should highlight your experience, specifically how it relates to the role, and tie your resume together in 2 to 3 sentences.

Whilst it isn't compulsory to include an objective in your resume, it’s an innovative way to grab the employer’s attention, mention your strengths, what you bring to the role, how your goals align with the position and how the company will benefit from hiring you.

How to write short and snappy

  • Use strong action verbs to describe yourself, such as innovative, creative, analytical or accomplished
  • Be sure you can back up these action words, with examples later in your resume
  • State how you would use this role to help the company
  • Focus on the specific job and avoid generalised statements

Highlight educational accomplishments

Your resume is a place to brag a bit. If you've achieved something in your studies or extracurricular activities, your resume is where you can highlight these accomplishments.

By presenting your post-graduate and other educational qualifications in a clear and tailored way, you not only showcase your academic achievements but also demonstrate how your educational background aligns with the requirements of the job you're pursuing.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Formatting: Create a dedicated section for your educational qualifications, starting with the most recent and listing them in reverse chronological order
  • Include essential information: Mention the full name of the degree, e.g. Master of Science in Computer Science, include the name of the university or institution where you obtained the degree and specify your graduation date
  • Highlight relevant achievements: Emphasise academic achievements, such as honours, awards, or high GPAs, including any thesis or dissertation titles if they are relevant
  • Tailor for the job: Highlight educational experiences that align with the job requirements, especially if the role values a specific skill
  • Use action verbs: Begin each bullet point describing your educational achievements with strong action verbs, e.g. "Conducted groundbreaking research on..." or "Achieved a 4.0 GPA in..."
  • Quantify your achievements: Use numbers to quantify your achievements, for instance, "Graduated with honours in the top 5% of the class."
  • Professional development and certifications: Include any relevant certifications or additional professional development courses you've completed during or after your post-graduate studies
  • Online courses and specialisations: Include any online courses or completed specialisations related to your field
  • Keep it short: While it's important to highlight achievements, keep the descriptions concise and relevant.

Emphasise relevant experience

Effectively explaining your work, internship, or project experiences on your resume is crucial to making a strong impression on potential employers. Here's a guide on how to list and detail these experiences, along with advice on making them stand out:

  • Formatting: Create a dedicated section for work experience, internships, or projects
  • Include essential information: Provide the job title or role you held, mentioning the name of the company and location (city and state)
  • Quantify achievements: Use numbers to quantify your achievements - this could be the percentage of sales increase, the number of projects completed, or any other measurable outcome
  • Highlight relevant skills: Emphasise those you’ve developed or utilised during each experience that are relevant to the job you're applying for
  • Customise your descriptions: Highlight your experiences that align with the job description
  • Focus on results: Rather than just listing duties, emphasise the results of your work as employers are interested in the impact you've made
  • Include relevant internships or projects: Include internships, volunteer work, or significant projects that demonstrate your skills and achievements
  • Use the CAR method (Context, Action, Result): Provide context for the situation, explain the action you took, and highlight the positive result
  • Be concise: Use bullet points and avoid lengthy explanations
  • Stay honest: Be truthful about your experiences
  • Use industry keywords: Include industry-specific keywords so that they can be picked up by applicant tracking systems (ATS) if the company uses them
  • Add impact statements: Include statements that convey the impact of your work

By following these guidelines, you can effectively showcase your work, internship, or project experiences on your resume, making them stand out and demonstrating your value to potential employers.

Showcase your skills

Balancing technical skills with soft skills is crucial for presenting a well-rounded and appealing resume. Employers want to know what you can bring to the table, and your resume is where you can showcase this.

Technical skills demonstrate your competence in specific areas, while soft skills show your ability to work effectively with others. By aligning your skills with the job requirements and providing evidence of their application, you create a compelling resume that resonates with potential employers.

Some tips for what skills to mention

  • Describe real examples: For technical skills, describe projects or tasks where you used those skills and tailor what you include to match the specific requirements of your industry e.g. if you're in marketing, highlight skills like SEO, Google Analytics, or content management systems
  • Provide evidence: Include how you've applied your skills in real-world situations
  • Indicate your proficiency level: For each technical skill, you can use terms like "Advanced," "Intermediate," or "Basic."
  • Highlight soft skills: Include traits like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability, and leadership and explain situations where these skills were crucial to your success

Professional formatting and design

Employers often have many resumes to go through. By spending the time to organise and ensure your resume is easy-to-read, it increases the chances that it will stand out to potential employers. It also makes it easier for employers to sift through potential candidates and

increases the likelihood they'll spend more time looking at your qualifications.

Many companies use software to scan resumes for specific keywords. A well-drafted resume is more likely to pass through these scans and reach human eyes.

A polished resume shows that you take your job application seriously. It reflects your professionalism and attention to detail, both qualities employers appreciate.

Powerful action words

When describing your skills, use action words to convey proactivity and impact. For example, "Managed," "Collaborated," "Solved," etc. Explain your intentions for the role, and add keywords and action verbs to make it descriptive.

Start each bullet point with a strong action verb to convey your accomplishments effectively. For example, "Managed," "Developed," "Coordinated," etc.

Remember to position your description according to the job description and always use clear and concise language.

Include certifications and awards

Certifications are useful to validate your technical expertise so remember to include a section where you list all awards and certifications applicable for the role you wish to apply for.

Here's a guide on how to include them effectively:

  • Prioritise relevant certifications: Include certifications that are directly relevant to the job you're applying for, and include the date of certification as this provides a timeline of your professional development
  • Use a recognized format: Present certifications in a format that is recognizable to your industry, e.g. use acronyms like PMP for Project Management Professional or AWS Certified for Amazon Web Services
  • Quantify your achievements: If the certification or award has specific achievements or outcomes, mention them
  • Highlight prestigious awards: That are relevant to your field, especially if they are industry-related. If you received recognition from industry associations or reputable organisations, include them as this adds credibility to your achievements
  • Include academic honours: Include these, such as being on the Dean’s List, especially if you’re a recent graduate

Reference and recommendation

Including references or recommendations directly in your resume has both advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at both:

Pros of including references

  • Immediate validation: Including references provides immediate validation of your qualifications and character, showing people are willing to vouch for your skills and work ethic
  • Builds trust: Positive recommendations help build trust with potential employers
  • Saves time for employers: Having references readily available saves time for employers needing to contact your references early in the hiring process
  • Demonstrates confidence: This demonstrates confidence in your abilities

Cons of including references

  • Limited space: Resumes need to be concise, focusing on your qualifications, skills and experiences. Including references may take up valuable space
  • Privacy concerns: Sharing contact information of your references on your resume may raise privacy concerns for both you and your references
  • Assumption of availability: This may give the impression that your references are readily available for contact, which might not be the case

Proofreading and review

A polished resume reflects attention to detail, a soft skill that is always great to demonstrate. By checking three times, you eliminate typos and grammatical errors, making sure your resume leaves a good impression.

While the obvious things to look for are spelling errors, it’s also a good idea to read through your resume aloud, as it’ll be very clear as you read if the paragraph reads well or requires more editing.

Also, be aware if you have opted for English US spelling or English UK spelling, as there are quite a few variants for how particular words are spelt, depending on which spelling you have opted for.

Conclusion

A well written resume should appeal to all the senses of the reader. As they work through your resume, your professionalism and personality should engage them, and make it possible for them to imagine what you can bring to the role. If successful, they should finish reading your resume feeling that you are the best person for the role.

Taking the time on your resume will always be time well spent. If done successfully, it’ll help prepare you for future interviews as you would have already taken the time to think of your strengths and weaknesses. Good luck for the job seeking journey!

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