6 Mistakes You’re Making when Writing a Resume for Young Professionals & Freshers

Over the years, I’ve had the chance to mentor other young professionals at work and help my friends with their job applications. In college, I also had had an entire class dedicated to finding a job. We reviewed resumes, cover letters, follow up emails, and interview tactics.

From those experiences, I’ve compiled 12 simple tips for writing a professional resume and common mistakes to avoid when creating a freshers resume. Use these tips in your young professional resume to stand out and land your next interview.

young woman in an office working on her young professional resume

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Freshers Resume or Young Professional Resume?

A freshers resume is for those who have just graduated high school or college and have very limited working experience. At this point, writing a professional resume can see very daunting. How can you fill a page with such limited experience? Will anyone hire someone without professional working experience?

The short answer is yes! There are many skills and character traits that companies are looking for outside of professional working experience. 

You should still create a resume, but instead of focusing on work experience, you will include other experiences, such as activities, clubs, research opportunities, and volunteer experiences. Your education and GPA are also important to convey that you would be a motivated, hard working employee. 

On the other hand, young professionals typically have 1-5 years of work experience. They are early career professionals with a growing list of responsibilities and may have worked at different companies.

For a young professional resume, a chronological list of your work experience and responsibilities is most important. You may only need your degree and university in the education section, depending on the amount of experience you have. 

Whether you’re writing a young professional resume or a freshers resume, this article will give you the best tips on formatting and content and mistakes to avoid. 

How to Write a Resume for the First Time

  1. If you’re writing a resume for the first time, start by compiling the information you need to include. The next section covers what information you need in more detail, but overall, you’ll need your educational and professional experience, skills, and contact information.
  2. Next, find a resume template. Microsoft Word offers free templates in the program, or you can find free resumes online.
  3. Fill out the template with the information you gathered in step #1.
  4. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Read over the resume to check for mistakes, typos, misspellings, and grammar errors. Have another person look it over just in case.
  5. Format the resume to make it look clean, professional, and clear.

What to Put on Resume for First Job 

Before even worrying about how to format a young professional resume, you should gather all the necessary information you’ll need. Going back to step #1 of how to write a resume, here’s what you need to include for writing a professional resume. I recommend making a list in a word processing document with the following information.  

What to Include in a Resume

  • Personal Information
    • Name
    • Preferred Email
    • Preferred Phone Number
    • Address or ZipCode
    • LinkedIn Link or Website Link, if applicable
  • Professional Experience – for all your previous jobs, internships, or clinicals/practicums gather the following information:
    • Company name and Location (City, State)
    • Job Title / Position held
    • Dates Position was held
    • Job Responsibilities
    • Your Accomplishment while in the position
    • A brief description, if needed
  • Education
    • Higher Education Institution where you studied
    • Graduation Date (or Expected Graduation Date)
    • Major(s) and Minor(s)
    • GPA (if at least a 3.0 or above)
    • Awards received while in higher education
    • Thesis title (if applicable)
    • Study Abroad – destination, length, course of study (if applicable)
  • Leadership Experience and Activities
    • Clubs, Volunteer Activities, Community Service
    • Positions held
    • Responsibilities and Accomplishments
  • Skills
    • Computer Skills
    • Technical Skills
    • Professional Certifications
    • Foreign Languages and your proficiency 
    • Work Style and Characteristics (optional)
  • Other Accomplishments
    • Conferences Attended
    • Conference Presentations
    • Ongoing Research or Completed Thesis / Papers
  • Other Awards
  • Other Interests
  • References (if applicable for your field)

Skills to Put on Resume

Expanding on the skills section, you should include any competencies and proficiencies you have in technology, certifications, and trainings. 

  • Computer Skills
    • Examples: Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, or Microsoft Suite, Meeting Software (Webex, Microsoft Teams, Zoom), Video Software (iMovie, Camtasia), etc.
  • Technical Skills
    • Examples: Coding Languages (Java, Python) and Software (Stata, SAP, Salesforce)
  • Professional Certifications
    • Examples: EMT, Athletic Trainer, Personal Training, Fitness Instructor, CPR
  • Foreign Languages and your proficiency 
  • Work Style and Characteristics (optional) – see notes below

Under skills, you can also include any character traits or attributes that make you a good fit for the job to which you are applying. Some examples of these skills may be: takes initiative, problem solving, critical thinking, collaborative, team-player. My recommendation is not to include these soft skills under your skill section.

Instead, scrap the list of soft skills and focus on making the description and accomplishments in your work experience showcase these traits. It’s better to show rather than tell.

What should I write in my resume if I have no experience?

If you begin compiling your list of information and feel like you have no experience, don’t worry! You are not alone, and you can still convey a lot with a freshers resume. Even as young professional in our early careers, we typically won’t have a ton of work experience. 

For this reason, young professionals typically lead with their education. Details about what you studied, relevant courses, thesis, or research projects, or awards will show the recruiter that you are motivated, hard worker, and made the best of your higher education. A study abroad experience highlights your ability to adapt, communicate across cultures, and navigate foreign environments. 

Additionally, young professionals usually include other activities from college such as a community service, leadership opportunities, research, conferences, and clubs. 

By including these activities, you can demonstrate attributes of a good worker, such as collaborative, team-player, hard worker, organized, and strong communication skills. 

Lastly, you’ll want to include any skills, such as certifications, foreign language skills, and technical or computer skills.

What else should I include on a freshers resume?

Another optional field to include is other interests. Sometimes you can intrigue a hiring manager enough to get an interview by including other interests. 

For example, in my first resume, I include an interest section with: Writing Fantasy Novels, Traveling, Soccer, and Volunteering in Education. Who knows? Perhaps the hiring manager enjoys one of those things, too, and gives you an interview just to learn more about you. Then you can tell them in the interview why you’re right for the job.

Related: 25 Motivating Career Quotes about Jobs and Life 

What should I put on my resume for early career?

Paid and unpaid internships, practicums, and clinicals are all great experience to include on your resume. If you had a part-time job while in college, you should consider including the experience on your resume, even if it’s not directly related to the job to which you are applying. You may thinking, how does working at a fast food restaurant or as the mail person in a law office showcase my skills? 

It proves that you can show up on time, handle responsibility, manage your time well, and work with others.

For the same reason, any odd jobs you did such as tutoring, baby sitting, life-guarding, fundraising, leading a Bible study, volunteering as a poll worker, or campaigning, can be relevant experience. Highlight the responsibilities that you had, how you handled conflict, and how you worked with others. If you gained more responsibilities over time, include that as well. 

When starting your career, it can be disheartening to write a freshers resume when you feel like you don’t have corporate experience. It also makes the transition from college to working even harder. But for entry level positions, recruiters can’t expect everyone to have 3 years of office experience or field work—especially while working on their college degree. 

Recruiters are looking for highly motivated, team-players with a good attitude and a willingness to learn. As long as you can show that on your resume, then the company can teach you any skills they want you to know.

Related: Networking Tips for People who Hate Networking

6 Easy Tips for Writing a Professional Resume

Now that you’ve got the basics of writing a resume and know what to include in a resume, let’s take it a step further. How can you make your resume stand out amongst the crowd?

Recruiters look at resumes for about 5-15 seconds, so you don’t have long to make a good impression. Employ these 6 simple tips for writing a professional resume to improve your odds.

1-Research the industry resume expectations

While there are some standard expectations when it comes to a resume for young professionals, they can also vary widely depending on the industry. For example, as a photographer, it may be necessary to include a link to your portfolio or website in your resume. I’ve never included references on a resume, but in my sister’s field, it’s a must-have on her resume. Take time to research what to include in a resume for your field.

2-Use action verbs

Start each job responsibility or accomplishment with an action verb, such as developed, produced, led, created, increased, crafted, raised (here’s a handy list of resume action verbs). It makes the resume more engaging and gets to the point faster. Vary the verbs to show various. 

3-Use Numbers

Include numbers to be more specific about what you accomplished and show unarguable results. For example, instead of “developed a list of recommendations to improve customer satisfaction,” write “developed a list of 70+ recommendations to improve customer satisfaction and upon implementation, saw 40% increase in satisfaction scores.”

4-Be brief and concise

Your interview is your chance to expound upon your experiences and make a case for why you’re the best candidate for the job. Your young professional resume has a different job – to present a brief summary of your experience and accomplishments and showcase your skills. If there is content on your resume that’s not doing that, then cut it and save it for the interview.

5-Tailor your professional resume to the job 

If you happen to have too much content for a one-page resume (or what your industry’s standard is), then decide what to keep and what to cut based on the job.

6-Use keywords from the job description

Some companies use an algorithm or AI to look at the resumes and decide which ones to pass to the recruiter. To make your resume more favorable to the algorithm, you can borrow words and phrases from the job description and key skills and include them in your resume.

Tip for #6 – Don’t lie to get past the algorithm. But you can rephrase sentences to match the job description and make your resume stronger for the job. 

6 Common Mistakes to Avoid on a Young Professional Resume 

In my plight to find a job after college, I submitted many resumes and revised my freshers resume many times. My friends and I banded together in order to craft a young professional resume. Through that process, here are some common mistakes I’ve seen and done myself on resumes for young professionals. 

1-Including unrelated things

If you’re worried about not having enough experience, employ some of the tactics above. Don’t include items that are unrelated to the job. For example, a management consulting firm probably doesn’t care how many Instagram followers you have on your personal profile. Nor does a school want to know how many pets you have or why you want to move to San Diego.

2-Writing too much, having a lengthy resume

A resume is a summary of experience and skills. As recruiters have so many resumes to look through, they won’t read through a 3-5 page resume (again, this is in general and can vary across industries). You want your young professional resume to capture the highlights, show your competencies and skills, and move on.

If you’re worried about being too verbose, limit yourself to one-page. For freshers resume, it’s unlikely you’ll have enough relevant experience to go over that limit.

3-Overdoing the formatting and style

Too much formatting and style on the page can be so distracting that the content is lost. Simpler is better, not only for recruiters but for you to revise and edit. 

Trying to make changes to a complicated template can be a nightmare.

4- Not using bullet points

Paragraphs and long sentences can easily become wordy and hard to follow. Bullet points help you be concise and get to the point. You can also fit more on the page by using bullet points.

5-Not proofreading

Several typos, misspellings, and missing punctuation leave a bad first impression. Make sure to proofread your resume thoroughly every time you make changes. If your college has a career service, have someone else look over the resume or rope in a friend to help.

6-Not employing enough white space

Your freshers resume shouldn’t be filled to the brim with content. Employing white space will make the resume more pleasing to the eye, easier to read, and easier to follow. Remember that you can expound on your experiences and skills in the interview. Read more on the best format for a resume below.

Professional Resume Format

The first impression you make with your resume isn’t even the content. It’s the format, which is why you want to make sure yours is professional and not distracting.

A professional resume format should include the following:

  • A clear, readable type face
    • Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri are great options. You can use others, but avoid flowery, complicated, or artsy fonts.
    • 11 – 12 pt font. You want the document to be readable by the naked eye, so don’t go below 10 pt font. 
  • An organized document and logical flow
    • Create sections for each of the different parts of a resume
    • Start with the most important information at the top and the least relevant at the bottom
  • Bold, italics, underline, and caps to make parts of your outline stand out
    • This formatting emphasizes aspects of your resume and creates a natural outline 
    • Be consistent with your formatting. If you make one job title in bold and the company name italic, then do that for all your job experiences.
    • Don’t overuse these or else nothing will stand out, and the document will be hard to read.
woman writing in a notebook on her desk

Creating your own Professional Resume

When writing a freshers resume for the first time, it can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have years of work experience. But by employing these tips and guidelines, you can still stand out by showing how your activities and education have helped you developed good working skills and a great attitude.

One of my teachers in college always said, “People think a candidate is hired based on two things: skills and attitude. But attitude is the hardest thing to change. So we should be hiring based on one thing—attitude and then teaching that person the skills to succeed.”

I agree. No matter if you have no experience, 1 year of experience, or 5 years of experience, you can learn anything with the right attitude.

So, approach writing your young professional resume with a positive attitude, knowing there are going to be a lot of revisions, edits, and drafts. Writing a professional resume takes time and dedication. But in the end, you’ll have a compelling summary of your experiences and story for why you’re right for the job.

What are your tips for writing a young professional resume?

Leave me a comment below!

Don’t miss this! More posts about Working and the Young Professional Lifestyle:

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