Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Thursday, September 11, 2014
What a great question! There are a number of ways you can extend (and enrich) a new-grad resume, even if you don’t have a ton of work history under your belt. I am sure you still have a great story to tell.
As you’d mentioned, I would not recommend enlarging the resume’s font or playing with the formatting too much. It’s always better to build things out with factual content that’s relevant to your background and goals, with details that will catch the eye of a potential recruiter or manager.
Here are a few areas where you can really add “depth and dazzle” to a resume:
Add selected courses you’ve taken which are relevant to the type of position you’re seeking. You can also add skills you developed during the course of your education, like typing, Microsoft Office proficiency, social media proficiency, and the like. I would also add any notable achievements such as awards for outstanding GPA, or other accolades. Even if you didn’t win them every single term you were in school, they can be helpful to include.
Try to build out the experience you do have, even if it doesn’t seem substantial at first. Use power verbs to describe what you’ve done (you can find lists of these types of phrases easily online). Particularly, try to show your creativity and innovation skills, your critical thinking and problem solving skills, and your communication and collaboration skills.
Think about the transferable skills you acquired, and how they may relate to your career path. Examples of this type of verbiage could be things like: “Designed and implemented a more efficient process of handling supply materials which reduced overhead costs,” or “Trained and collaborated with new employees, to increase compliance and efficiency across the business.”
Try your best to itemize what you did, and also what the outcome was. And make sure you are using professional language when describing your roles. A great colleague of mine states that if you babysit, list this as “Childcare.” If you mow lawns for your neighbors, list this as “Lawn Services.” Get creative, but always be honest about what you were responsible for, and the dates of your involvement. You need to make sure you can explain every line on your resume to a recruiter or Hiring Manager, if needed, and provide references if they ask for them.
*Organizations and Activities*
Include your unpaid roles or activities, too. This could include volunteer events, your involvement in a sports team, your affiliation with various clubs or councils, etc. There are valuable skills you may have learned, and valuable experiences worth sharing with prospective employers. Being involved with non-profits or other service organizations is a huge plus, and many companies really prize this type of experience tremendously.
I hope this helps give you some ideas to try, and wishing you the best of luck as you start this new adventure!