Almost all new college graduates face this classic catch-22 more or less: you need a first job to gain work experience, but you can’t get any jobs without work experience in the first place.
That’s one reason why three-out-of-four college students in their final year don’t have a job lined up after graduation, according to a recent survey by job site Monster.com. While quite alarming by itself, the rate is considered normal for college students, said Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster, even when unemployment rate for the overall population is at the lowest level in nearly a century.
More than half of the survey respondents said they don’t feel their resumes are good enough to secure a job interview. A common challenge, the survey found, is not having enough work experience to fill up a one-page resume.
But here’s the funny part: to fill in the blank space, male students are twice as likely as female students to put a headshot in the resume, while women prefer including their GPA or extracurricular activities.
Perhaps that’s because girls in general have more impressive grades than boys. Yet, by all means, including a headshot is neither appropriate nor necessary.
“Headshots are not recommended in general, although they are more common in resumes from international applicants,” Salemi said. “It’s not appropriate in the U.S., mainly because headshots can open the door for discrimination. Your resume is supposed to be your calling card and what makes you shine in terms of your skills and experiences. Also, if you Google a candidate, you are very likely to find out what he/she looks like on some social media sites anyway, so it’s not necessary.”
GPA and extracurricular activities, however, are highly relevant information. A former corporate recruiter herself, Salemi said she used to have her hiring managers always ask for a candidate’s GPA whether it was included in the resume or not.
While having a resume is an important first step, Salemi stressed that “soft skills” often play a bigger role in job hunting.
“When I was a recruiter, what stood out to me, as well as to hiring managers overall, is when a candidate was able to get along well with the hiring team during the interview process,” she said. “It could be that they just seemed to be hard workers, or demonstrated an excellent work ethic, or seemed excited and passionate about the job. All these intangible things can really shine.”
“A resume might get your foot in the door, but what’s going to mark yourself during the interview is how you interact with the interviewer and the ability to carry out a conversation,” she added.