- How to build your résumé after college.
by Morgan Solomon
After you prop that ridiculous square cap on your head and throw a black robe over your shoulders, reality soon sets in: what now? Instead of hustling to that nine-to-five career, why not wait a while and “experience life”? You may be worried that if you don’t take the first job offer, you’ll go nowhere in life. But that’s not necessarily true—provided you don’t become a permanent couch potato. Here are some ways to build your résumé after college while still having a little fun and freedom.
1.) Get certified. If your outdoor passion offers some kind of certification or qualification course, do it. Becoming a certified fishing guide, raft guide, ski patroller, lifeguard, or first-aid provider will boost your résumé. It shows your employer you’re driven to pursue your goals and earn your dream job. It also offers a fallback occupation should you ever need it.
2.) Intern. Not quite ready for all the responsibilities and time commitment just yet? Feeling underqualified despite your $40k education? You have the knowledge but not the experience, so why not intern somewhere that you could see yourself working. Having the skills needed for your future job will set you apart from your peers and make your a more appealing applicant. Employers often don’t look at your 4.0 GPA, but they do pay attention to your experience.
3.) Give a year. Although you’re not getting paid, volunteering shows you are doing something valuable with your time. It also gives you a wider social network and a greater skillset. Try volunteering for something related to the jobs you may apply for in the future. Do you like to travel and help others? Spend a year serving with an organization like the Peace Corps or Americorps. These programs can provide you with resources, connections, and experience that will bolster your résumé.
4.) Do what you love. If you love to ski and whitewater kayak, think about taking a seasonal job as a ski patroller or whitewater rafting guide. Love horses? Work in a stable or at a guest ranch. This option not only offers a fun work environment with other people your age, it will provide you with new life experience. The ability to talk about your passions in relation to recent events makes you more interesting in an interview. Be careful, though—don’t take advantage of your job. Take responsibility for yourself and others. Your supervisor will be more likely to give you that glowing recommendation that makes you a better candidate for a management position.
5.) Travel. Experiencing new cultures allows you to gain new perspectives on life and helps you understand new customs and beliefs. Traveling will help you develop your own opinions and ideas, making you a much more innovative and resourceful candidate. It will also make you a more interesting person—every excursion will have a story behind it, whether good or bad. Use it to your advantage.
6.) Learn a new language. A full-time job leaves little time for anything extra. Take advantage of the time you have now to enhance your résumé by learning to speak another language. Foreign-language skills open up doors and set you apart from the competition. With the growth in immigration and international business, fluency in another language is an invaluable skill and one you’ll never regret developing.
7.) Meet people. Networking—the first and foremost thing you can do to build your résumé. With today’s job market, it’s all about who you know. Employers often use recommendations to tip the scales when assessing applicants with similar qualifications. Attend social functions, join professional groups, and make a point of chatting people up when you see them around town. Yes, it can be intimidating to talk to people with experience—get over it and start a conversation. This includes former professors and employers. Their recommendations may be the deciding factor on whether you get the job.