Three tools to prepare graduating students for the job search

With graduation around the corner, there's only a few weeks left to help students while they're still on campus

Many students reach graduation without knowing how to effectively articulate the value of the numerous co-curricular experiences they had throughout their time in college. With graduation just around the corner, consider reaching your graduating students before they leave campus to better equip them with the tools to create compelling resumes and succeed in the job search.

These strategies are part of the Student Affairs Forum's larger best practice study, Reimagining Experiential Learning: Skill Building Opportunities Outside the Classroom.

1. Skill Articulation Guides for Student Involvement

Whether they are active student leaders or just the occasional event attendee, students participate in a number of activities that are building high demand skills like communication, teamwork, time management, and more. However, even the most highly engaged students don’t know how to talk about what they’ve learned from activities like Greek life or student organizations.

When drafting a resume or preparing for a job interview, it is important for students to be able to communicate the value of these experiences by articulating the specific skills they learned from their co-curricular involvement. One quick and easy way to help graduating students do this is by providing a guide that highlights the skills gained from campus activities, and provides sample resume language to describe them. This can take the form of a flyer and/or a webpage, and you may even consider emailing it to all graduating students.

For a step-by-step guide to creating your own Skill Articulation Guides, as well as examples from Salisbury University, check out this section of our Experiential Learning toolkit.

2. Resume Builder Tool Handbook for Student Employees

Like co-curricular involvement, student employment is often overlooked or misrepresented in student resumes and job interviews. Students may not see the relevance of jobs they held in, for example, food service or office administration, and will therefore fail to articulate their value to prospective employers. To help student employees translate these experiences, we recommend using a Resume Builder Tool. This document provides specific guidance to students in representing their jobs on resumes in a way that is meaningful to future employers.

Your Resume Builder Tool should be easily accessible to students online, and may also be shared in print or via email to graduating students.

The Career Center at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill developed a Resume Builder Tool that features an extensive list of common student jobs with suggestions on how to call out the skills learned from these positions.

3. Facilitator Manuals for High Impact Resume Workshops

For a more high impact approach to resume development, consider inviting graduating students to a hands-on workshop on resume tailoring. Traditional job search and resume writing workshops tend to focus on the style and formatting aspects of resume development. While this is important, it is also essential to teach students how to appeal to a specific employer for a specific position. The exercises outlined in these manuals present two options for supporting the student job search: the first focuses on resume tailoring and the second gives students a glimpse into the perspective of a hiring manager. Both workshop manuals can be found in this section of our Experiential Learning toolkit.

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