About Theresa McCluskey

Theresa McCluskey, Senior Resume Writer Theresa’s goal is to prepare clients for career advancement through powerful resumes and career coaching services. Her creativity and keen sense of language result in interview-generating resumes that leave clients saying, "I'd hire myself after seeing that resume!" Theresa demonstrates advanced proficiency in the creation of winning resumes and cover letters and her passion for helping her clients achieve their dreams is evident in every resume she produces.

Recent College Grads and An Award Winning Resume…

How ready is your candidate’s resume that recently completed college?  How can you spice up a resume that doesn’t have much history? 

It’s possible, I promise!

There are a few points to pay close attention to: Length, Format and Font.

Although the “one page rule” can be overridden in some cases, for college students and recent graduates, a single-page resume should be substantial to list their achievements and experiences.  Employers want to see a snapshot of their work, coach them to be thorough but =concise.

I always suggest using a font size between 11 and 12 point.   Avoid filling the page with non-necessities and large font, it appears juvenile. They will also want to make the page look like there is history and is a complete picture of where they have been and are now.

If they are struggling to fill the page, consider coaching them to add an executive summary at the top of the page. In a short paragraph, ask them to explain experience with meaningful activities (tutoring, keeping the books for your fraternity), schoolwork (relevant coursework, GPA), and personal qualities.

Even if a company has a laid back culture, the experts caution against using wacky fonts, symbols, or anything that suggests lack of professionalism. They will not want employers to think they are still in college-mode and unprepared for the business world.

I will caution candidates from including a hyperlink in the resume for a web site or a LinkedIn profile as most employers don’t have the time to reference this, the resume should hold the majority of the candidate’s background on that one page and should avoid external links.

Also, this is often difficult for recent grads but only include experiences that are relevant to the job they are applying for.

Depending on the position the candidates are interested in, they may be able to highlight past experiences to show their skill development, even if they are volunteer activities or hobbies.  I actually recommend including a skills and/or volunteer section for recent grads as that shows that the candidate takes the time to go above and beyond to participate in the community versus party in their free time.

Beyond the Resume

They can also include letters of recommendation from teachers or former employers/internship opportunities or take it to the next level by asking their references to make a phone call on their behalf to a potential employer. Submit all references on a separate page; the candidate can have one academic reference, but keep them mostly work-related.

Finally, the biggest mistake that a new college graduate can make on their resume is attempting to fill the white space with elaborate information that doesn’t exist.  Employers that are willing to hire new graduates are already aware of their graduation date (it’s on their resume) and will quickly see the B.S.  This is great news and will save everyone some time on getting to the facts.
Finally, providing employers with supplemental pages  can further substantiate qualities and experience as long as they are relevant. Supplemental pages can show that the candidate is responsible and is serious about the position in question, this may mean a custom cover letter for each job the candidate applies for or even a list of awards received during the candidate’s academic successes.

Help Your Client’s Ace the Interview (tips you have permission to steal!)

Potential candidates are going to be nervous so set them up for success!

Look Sharp 

Before the interview, select your outfit. Depending on the industry and position, get out your best duds and check them over for spots and wrinkles. Even if the company has a casual environment, you don’t want to look like you slept in your clothes. Above all, dress for confidence. If you feel good, others will respond to you accordingly. 

Be on Time 

Never arrive late to an interview. Allow extra time to arrive early in the vicinity, allowing for factors like getting lost. Enter the building 10 to 15 minutes before the interview.  I worked at P.F. Chang’s in college, their motto is “Chang’s time”, 15 minutes early will never hurt you.

Do Your Research 

Researching the company before the interview and learn as much as possible about its services, products, customers and competition will give you an edge in understanding and addressing the company’s needs. The more you know about the company and what it stands for, the better chance you have of selling yourself. You also should find out about the company’s culture to gain insight into your potential happiness on the job. 

Be Prepared 

Bring along a folder containing extra copies of your resume, a copy of your references and paper to take notes. You should also have questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview.   Review your resume if you haven’t lately, some interviewer’s ask questions regarding what’s on there, you should be ready to answer these.

Show Enthusiasm 

A firm handshake and plenty of eye contact demonstrate confidence. Speak distinctly in a confident voice, even though you may feel shaky. 

Listen 

One of the most neglected interviewing skills is listening. Make sure you are not only listening, but also reading between the lines. Sometimes what is not said is just as important as what is said. 

Answer the Question Asked 

Candidates often don’t think about whether or not they actually are answering the questions asked by their interviewers. Make sure you understand what is being asked, and get further clarification if you are unsure.

Give Specific Examples

One specific example of your background is worth 50 vague stories. Prepare your stories before the interview. Give examples that highlight your successes and uniqueness. Your past behavior can indicate your future performance.

Ask Questions

Many interviewees don’t ask questions and miss the opportunity to find out valuable information. Your questions indicate your interest in the company or job.  Make sure though these are not about benefits, pay or anything related to HR.

Follow Up 

Whether it’s through email or regular mail, the follow-up is one more chance to remind the interviewer of all the valuable traits you bring to the job and company. You don’t want to miss this last chance to market yourself.