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Useful Tips

Entry-Level Resumes - Points to keep in Mind

Highlight Your Education First or Your Academic Achievements
This is likely the number one reason you are a qualified candidate. Even if you have not completed a degree, the courses you have taken gives you skills that make you a good job candidate. Describe the coursework you have completed, papers you wrote, and computer skills you have developed.

As your career progresses, you will change the format of your resume to emphasize work experience more. For academic or medical positions, curriculum-vitae (which focuses on study) is appropriate regardless of whether you're a recent graduate or seasoned professional.

Courses and Academic Projects:
Some courses are more applicable than others - let this determine the emphasis and placement of the info. For example, lab work or independent projects you completed for science courses is very relevant for those applying toward biotech companies whereas if you're a sociology major applying for a financial services job, your classroom work will be less relevant. If your percentage is amongst the top five in class, or G.P.A is exceptional (3.0 or better), make note of it - Otherwise leave it off

Mention Curriculum Highlights:
If you were on the dean's list, graduated with honours, received a scholarship, were a member of any professional associations, played sports or participated in other activities, mention it.

Many recent grads worry that they don't have worthwhile experience to list on your resume. Employers however are interested to see internships, volunteering, school activities, and other non-traditional work on entry-level resumes. Don't sell yourself short by discounting your experience.

Internships are especially important - list these prominently (put them at the top of your resume unless you have other, more relevant experiences to place ahead of it). Internships show that you are familiar with a professional environment and that you've been actively exploring your career options.

Although many internships involve less-than challenging work you want to state things in a positive tone and to emphasize your transferable skills.

Volunteer Work:
Don't hesitate to list unpaid volunteer work on your resume. It's perfectly legitimate to list unpaid positions.

Extracurricular Activities:
Extracurricular experiences can be valuable, particularly if you occupied a leadership position. Be sure to show links to skills the current job requires. (i.e. from athletics there are teamwork skills. From performing or fine arts there are communication skills, creativity, and the ability to meet deadlines. From other philanthropic work there might be leadership, organizational, and self-management skills).

Summer Jobs:
Don't underestimate your less glamorous summer jobs. Pick out the transferable skills. Camp counsellor may not seem like a big deal to you, but it shows potential employers that you were developing communication and relationship-building skills.

Many students distinguish paid from unpaid work on their resumes. However, there is nothing wrong with listing all types of experience under one heading.

You may also include extracurricular activities and volunteer work under your experience heading, but be certain to distinguish between those that are and are not relevant to your job search. Consider dividing your experiences into "Related Experience" and "Other Experience". If you have a significant number of relevant academic experiences, you may want to include a section entitled, "Related Academic Experience."

A laundry list of past duties is not enough -- you need to demonstrate how you positively impacted the environment you were a part of. It will separate you from the pack.

The temptation to stretch the truth can be great. If you get caught in a lie you can be terminated with no questions asked and no eligibility for unemployment benefits.

Have someone proofread your resume -- A mistake on your resume can take you out of the running instantly.

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