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How to Beef Up Your Entry-Level Resume

By Brandon Miller
Monster Gen Y Contributing Writer

The job hunt is rough. It’s no secret. That’s why it’s vital to keep yourself focused on the task at hand, and there’s no better way to do that then by working on your resume. Here are some tips on ways to plump up your resume while keeping your mind sharp and your heart hopeful.

Create a Specialization with More Schooling

“I didn’t get into teacher’s college,” says Maggie, a 23-year-old who recently completed a post-graduate program in Teaching ESL at Humber College. “I figured this was like a back door into teachers college. And then I really ended up liking it and will hopefully have a job in a few weeks developing curriculum.”
Undertaking new coursework is a way to pad your resume while at the same time narrowing the focus of your job search. Besides keeping your mind alert, doing some extra academic drudgery often makes one more qualified for an entry-level gig.

Volunteer for a Good Cause

Volunteering is one of the smartest ways to fill up blank spots on your resume. Not only will you garner marketable skills perfect for mention at your next job interview, but you will also be able to expand your network of contacts. At the very least, volunteering during a job search dry spell will make you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile for mankind – and your resume will exemplify those noble personal traits.

Certify Yourself

“This will probably move my resume from the no list…to the ‘maybe’ or to the ‘considered’ box,” Brian, 24 and an Investor Relations Specialist, says of his CFA Level 1 Exam. “It’s a door opener, that’s what it is. A lot of people will look at your resume and say, “Oh, you are doing this, but do you know what you are talking about?” The more credentials you have, the more weight will be given to your resume. When job hunting, it’s important to think about tests, certificates, association memberships and any other tools that you can use to make yourself appear more qualified.

Work for Free

Okay, so they don’t pay much - or at all – but that’s no reason to turn up your nose at internship opportunities. Employers want to see that you have had practical experience, and the best way to develop a hands-on understanding of your industry is to intern. Your resume will look sturdier and more accomplished, the number of industry contacts you have will multiply, and you will gain skill sets that will help you sell yourself to a potential boss.

A few don’ts to remember

1. Don’t lie on your resume. There’s a huge difference between a small exaggeration and a flat-out lie. Claiming you know how to use a specific type of software better than you do, for example, is a lot more forgivable than claiming you graduate university when you really dropped out your first semester. Avoid fibbing.

2. Don’t sit idle. Sitting at your computer staring at your empty inbox is just about the worst thing you can do when in job hunt. Even if you choose not to work on resume building, be sure to find a hobby or some part-time work if you can. Otherwise you will just obsess about your career (trust me, I know).

3. Don’t overlook skills you already have. Create a large list of your marketable skills – anything from HTML and web design to oral and written communication – and tailor your resume to include the ones that best suit your industry. You can also include part-time jobs you have held if you can somehow relate them back to these fundamental aptitudes.

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