You’ve got mad skills. You’ve got more energy than a field of solar panels. You’ve got so much drive that Fast & Furious was actually about you.
But one thing you don’t got is a job.
You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. But with a little bit of effort and a good plan, you can write a resume that’ll make you shine.
STEP ONE: Clean Up Your Online Self.
Think that a potential employer isn’t going to check out your social media just because it’s an entry level job? Think again. The breadcrumbs you leave online can may make you look like a party-girl, a complainer or trash-talker. No one wants to hire any of those types. First thing, Google your name and location. See what comes up and what it says about you. Facebook and Twitter not showing you in the best light? Modify your name and then create a second account which reflects a more professional you. And no employer is going to take seriously someone with an email address like “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Get a another account with a more professional handle.
STEP TWO: Don’t Fear the Resume.
It doesn’t have to be dull; you can get a creative, stylin’ template that will really stand out. Most applicants will just hand in a plain-old text-only resume that will make an employer’s eyes gloss over. Make yours the exception! Great (and free!) resume templates are all over the web. Hloom.com is good source for templates that you can edit in Word. Choosing a template that lets you use a photo is a fantastic way to make employers remember you. Just be sure it’s a professional looking photo. No group shots from the beach.
The first thing underneath your name and contact information should be your “ABOUT ME” section. Put a lot of thought into these two or three sentences (no more!) which highlight the skills and personality traits most important to the job you’re applying for. Applying for a job in the hospitality industry? Tell them about your sparkling personality and ability to get along with anyone. Going for an administrative position? Point out your amazing attention to detail and organizing prowess.
Underneath your “About Me” is where you list your “EXPERIENCE.” Note that this doesn’t exclusively mean “professional experiences”. If you’re going for your first job, you probably don’t have any. Experience also means volunteer work, school committees, tutoring, web site work, internships, etc.
List your high school and if applicable, college. Beneath the school, note any awards you have won, honors, AP classes and your GPA if you think it is high enough. But also list any additional training or non-accredited education. Taken jewelery making classes at the local craft center? Cooking instruction? Be sure to include them here, along with the institution’s name.
Anyone who can vouch for your greatness except for your mom. A teacher, professor, coach, or parent that you’ve babysat for. Just be sure to ask them if they’d be willing first. Include their name, telephone number and relationship to you (“teacher”, “coach”, “child-care employer”, etc.)
STEP THREE: The Cover Letter Is Your Friend
Take this seriously. Very often the cover letter is what gets you the job, because this is the place where you can stand out from the rest of the crowd. So why do so many first time applicants blow off the cover-letter? Because it’s a lot of work. Each job should have the same cover letter, because every company is different. First, make sure you do your research. If you’re applying to be at the concierge desk at a mid-priced “kid-friendly” hotel your cover letter is going to be very different than one for a swanky, hip luxury hotel. Whereas in the former you’d want to highlight your friendliness, teamwork and and experience with children, you’ll want to showcase your professionalism, communication skills and attention to detail. Downloadable cover-letter templates can be found at apollostemplates.com
STEP FOUR: On the Prowl: How to Hunt
Online sites like monster.com are helpful, but keep in mind hundreds of people are looking at the same jobs you are. Often, don’t underestimate hitting up the people right around you – you know, networking. Make it known you’re looking for a job. Do your parents have friends that work in the industry you’re interested in? Got a favorite professor? Be sure to let them know you’re in the market for an opening. Like they say: “It’s all about who you know.”
STEP FIVE: Don’t Give Up and Don’t Get Down.
True, it’s rough out there – but a job rarely plops plops itself on your lap. If you haven’t heard back within 10 days, give them a call or shoot them an email. And don’t be scared to go for a job you think is a long shot. You’ll never know who is willing to take a chance on you if you don’t ask.
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