5 Resume Tips: This Is My First Resume!

Here's five key tips for crafting content for a first resume that will catch a hiring manager's attention right away.

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By Ho Lin 6 minute read

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Writing your first resume can seem intimidating. It’s your initial foray into the all-important job market, an opportunity to finally be financially independent. All you need to do is prove your worth, which means compiling and presenting your best qualities so that hiring managers will jump at the opportunity to hire you. Maybe it’s not as easy as that sound but it doesn’t have to be as hard as that sounds, either.

The fact is, you can be the most qualified person on the planet, but if your resume is flawed, it can be a disadvantage. If you’re ready to write that first resume, here are five key tips for crafting content that will snag the hiring manager’s eye right away.

1. Get straight to the point on your resume

Hiring managers are not necessarily forgiving of people who cannot put together a competent resume. Who can blame them? If creating content for a single sheet of paper is beyond your skill, why should employers trust you with their operations? So it’s key to showcase your capabilities as clearly and effectively as possible, from the get-go. Understand that you have a few seconds to get the hiring manager’s attention. That means getting to the point quickly and mentioning your best skills and credentials up front. In your opening statement or resume objective section, demonstrate that you understand the job you’re applying for and can use the skills you’ve learned in your educational or volunteer experience to succeed in the role.

2. Choose the right resume format

When writing your first resume, the functional resume — which focuses on training and skills — is your best bet. You may not have a lot to put here, but don’t let that deter you. Include summer jobs and internships that display important skills. If you’ve worked at your uncle’s auto shop, bagged groceries at the local supermarket, helped out in the principal’s office or volunteered at the community center, you can feature important soft skills such as flexibility, a strong work ethic, teamwork, and organizational abilities. Feature any studies, training or certifications you have, even if it’s only for typing. When reviewing first-timers, hiring managers are going to be looking for skills and experiences that show potential more than anything.

3. Evaluate your potential

If you did work in your uncle’s auto shop, think beyond the physical aspect of the job. You may have been moving boxes around and sweeping floors, but you can attest to being part of a team that offered good customer service. You could include handling inventory or answering phones. If you worked in the principal’s office, you might have monitored schedules. We are constantly developing skills that would be important to a hiring manager in the right situation.

4. Use the right words

Use words like created, organized, produced, developed and managed. These action words that show your accomplishments. Make sure you also use words that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, an administrative job would use words such as “organized, “managed” or “coordinated.” Read the job ad and notice how they describe the roles and responsibilities needed.

5. Proofread your work

This cannot be stressed enough: Hiring managers can dismiss your submission for any reason they choose. Spelling and grammatical errors top the list. Don’t simply rely on a spell-check. Have others read your resume because a spell-check will not notice you used “had” instead of “has” or that you dropped a word mid-sentence. As this is your first resume, don’t feel compelled to fill the page. And don’t enlarge fonts in your content beyond 12 points. (You can tighten the margins a little if you want.) But overall, rely on the content to impress the hiring manager enough to get the interview.

Writing your first resume can be a challenging process, but these resume tips will help you craft one to get you a great start in the job market. If you can craft a strong, attractive resume that showcases your skills—even if you lack professional experience—you’ll have a better chance of starting your career on the right foot.

Ho Lin Profile
WRITTEN BY Ho Lin

Ho Lin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and editor with two decades of experience in content strategy, creation, and development. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and his background includes experience aiding military veterans as they transition to civilian careers.

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