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College students and recent graduates are entering a competitive job market. It takes the average college student between 3 and 6 months to find their first job, and many times that job isn’t even in their preferred industry. In addition, COVID-related job losses are flooding some industries with additional candidates.

A unique and compelling resume is one way to stand out when applying for an open, highly competitive position. While resumes are limited by nature and can’t fully represent your personality, they are an effective way to get your foot in the door and land an in-person interview. Here are five ways to make your resume stand out.

  • Include a personal mission statement. Employers want to know if you will be a good fit for their company in terms of passion and personality—not just skills or work experience. By sharing about who you are and why you want the position, you are more likely to catch the eye of a hiring manager.
  • Get creative, but not too creative. A visually appealing and creative resume will stand out and showcase your commitment and taste. But be careful, overdoing the creativity on a resume could turn off some employers and reduce your chances of securing an interview.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Overselling or underselling yourself to a potential employer signals a lack of self awareness. Objectively evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and be honest with yourself and your future employer about them.
  • Proofread. It may seem obvious, but before you submit a resume, make sure you read it through for spelling and grammar mistakes. Too many resumes have been submitted with embarrassing typos. It can be helpful to have a friend, family member or career support professional proofread the document as well.
  • Include work samples. If possible, include samples or proof of relevant work along with the resume. If you are applying for your first job, you can use examples of work completed for internships or classes.

RecDiv is an online job platform that connects employers with students and recent graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.