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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

Best resume format for freshers: optimal layout to land a job

11 min read
Best resume format for freshers: optimal layout to land a job
Sitting down to write your first resume is a daunting prospect for any fresher. Keep it simple to start with. Work out the best resume format and let everything else fit into place.

Getting a degree is no guarantee of landing a fantastic role right out of school. So many freshers drift into early career jobs that do not demand graduate levels of skills. It often takes a year or two to find their career path.

If you’re not familiar with the term, freshers are recently graduated students, taking their first steps in the world. They will have various challenges to contend with. Designing a resume is definitely among them. 

Since they’re just beginning their career journey, many recent graduates think any ‘ol resume will do. After all, they don’t have much work experience to write about. In fact, you might be surprised to learn how much a polished resume can influence a hiring manager at this stage. Many freshers simply don’t bother. Putting in the work here will give you an advantage.

The first consideration when you sit down to write your freshers resume is the resume format. Being mindful about how you structure the resume will give you a framework for your fledgling career story. In this blog, we investigate:

  • Why is a freshers resume format different?
  • Resume format sections for freshers
  • Reverse-chronological vs. combination resumes
  • Fresher resume format tips

Why is a freshers resume format different?

As the end of your studies draws near, thoughts turn to the necessity of entering the workplace. All of a sudden, you need to think about your resume. While you might be used to writing academic essays and dissertations, the challenges of a one-page resume document loom large.

Before you think about the content of your freshers resume, it is important to make some choices about the format of the document. Employers understand that you lack experience, so the format won’t be the same as the resume of a professional.

Which resume format sections should freshers focus on? How can they make the most of that potentially life-changing page?

Resume format sections for freshers 

When it comes to filling the page of a freshers resume, there are several sections to fit into the format. How you deploy each section is entirely up to you and will depend on your circumstances and the nature of the role. Here are the key sections that every freshers resume format should include.

Resume header

Freshers should include the normal contact information on their resume header. This part of the resume should not look any different to an experienced professional. Include your full name, a simple personal email address (no weird ones) and your mobile phone. Not every fresher will be happy to give out their phone number, but this is essential. You can just include the name of your hometown. No need for a full home address until you are at the point of a potential job offer.

Ideally, you should also have a basic LinkedIn presence to show that you are taking the first steps in your career seriously. Select a header design that is simple, professional and that doesn’t take up too much space.

Career objective

The top section of the resume for a seasoned professional would contain a summary of their experience, but for a fresher this is not a good use of this prime resume real estate.

Instead, craft a career objective that outlines your career goals, while sharing enough about your limited experience to justify why you will get there. If this objective fits with the role in question you should be in a good position to score an interview. If this career objective does not hit the mark it is unlikely that the hiring manager will read further. 

Plenty of freshers fail to understand that they have to earn the attention of their future boss. The world does not owe them a living. A thoughtful career objective will show that they are ready to make the most of any suitable opportunity that comes their way. 

Work experience

The phrase “work experience” is likely to cause beads of cold sweat to appear on any job seeking fresher’s brow. It is so easy to imagine that you are up against fellow graduates with tons of relevant experience, but the reality is likely very different.

Employers will hope to see evidence of work-related activity, but it does not to need to be from a 9-5 traditional job setting. Volunteering, internships, and part-time roles are common in the early-career resume, as well as various gig activities that an applicant may have undertaken. In our modern economy there is no excuse for zero work activity, so if you feel that a job search is looming you need to have a look at what you could include in this section. Getting a full-time job will be tough with nothing here.

When you have some activity to include, the trick is to then get creative about the transferable skills that you can bring to your future employer. The more obvious that you can make it for an employer, the better. They will likely be reading hundreds of resumes so spell out what you can bring to the table.

Education 

When it comes to education, this is where a fresher needs their resume to shine. If you have spent your student years enjoying yourself a bit too much and not studying enough, most employers will assume that you will spend your early career years doing the same thing. Recent grads who turn up with a hangover on a Monday morning won’t last long.

Packing the education section of your freshers resume with impressive achievements (academic or otherwise) is therefore essential. Include the degree, institution, and graduation years. Make sure that you are accurate in everything that you write as this information is easily checked and you could lose your job if there are inaccuracies.

Follow up the formalities of your qualifications with a substantial bullet-pointed list of awards, certifications, society involvement and extracurricular activities. Show the hiring manager how you made the most of your time in education. This is the foundation for any successful career. Lastly, demonstrate the soft and hard skills that you picked up during your time at university or college. Make sure that they match the demands of the job description.

Skills 

Employers won’t expect the skills section of a fresher resume to be extensive, so don’t waste space telling them about your ability to create a PowerPoint presentation. They will assume that you possess all the standard skills expected of someone starting their career, so only share skills that you feel may set you apart from the competition. 

Reverse-chronological vs. combination fresher resumes 

There are three main ways of formatting a resume. Two are suitable for freshers with limited work experience: reverse chronological and hybrid resumes. There is a third option: the functional resume which focusses primarily on skills, but isn’t really a good option for recent grads. Here is how to choose between the reverse-chronological and the hybrid.

Reverse-chronological resume

The reverse-chronological resume format places an emphasis on work experience. It lists work experience in reverse chronological order with the most recent experience first. 

This is the format that most hiring managers would be familiar with, and it is certainly appropriate if you have a couple of significant stints of work experience, internships, or volunteering to talk about. Relevant work experience is, after all, the thing that hiring managers will want to discuss during any interview. If you have enough substantial experience to talk about, leave the fluffy, aspirational stuff until later on in the resume.

Combination resume

The combination resume places more emphasis on skills and education, while still including an element of work experience. If you have only one or two internships to your name, highlighting your skills and potential is essential.

The attraction of the combination resume lies in the ability to target the skills and attributes required for each role. You are not forced to make a limited amount of work experience fit your dream job. Instead, blend training, education, internships, and volunteering into a skills-led tale of potential.

Fresher resume format tips and fails

Writing a resume is a daunting prospect when you are a fresher. There is plenty of resume format advice online, but as much of it is aimed towards experienced professionals it is hard to know what is acceptable practice for a fresher who is about to enter the workplace.

Fresher resume format tips

Keep the font legible. Select a simple font and opt for size 10 or 12. Any kind of embellishment in an early career resume might be seen as a distraction. Let your potential shine through without fancy fonts or formatting.

One page is enough. Unless you have a long and illustrious academic background prior to entering the workplace, one page will suffice for the freshers resume. Only keep the aspects of your application that are as relevant as possible for the role.

Save the resume as a PDF. Ensure that you save your freshers resume as a PDF before you send it to the employer. This will retain the original formatting. Better still, use a professionally designed resume template from provider such as Resume.io.

Fresher resume format fails 

Don’t downplay your education. The education section for a fresher resume is the one place where a potential employer can find factual information about your application. Share details of relevant coursework, projects, and societies as well as your academics.

Don’t choose an intricate design. Unless you are going into marketing, the design of the resume won’t influence the hiring manager too much. If the design takes up too much space on the page, it may create the impression that you don’t have too much to say for yourself.

Key takeaways 

Hopefully you have now created an ideal resume format for your freshers job search. The resume will form the starting point for many interview questions, so take care to set the narrative that you wish to follow.

  • Pick the right resume format to suit your circumstances.
  • Make sure that the content fits the job description.
  • Don’t be scared to share your career objectives.
  • Write a freshers resume that is a springboard for a great interview.
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Build your resume in 15 minutes
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested resume templates that follow the exact ‘resume rules’ employers look for.
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