NEW YORK (MainStreet) — For the past few years, most college graduates in America have donned their caps and gowns to face a very uncertain future. Thankfully, the job market and the economy have improved, but grads still face stiff competition in the workforce.
This year, employers will hire 2% more new grads from the Class of 2013 than they did from the Class of 2012, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The organization also found the current unemployment rate for recent grads to be 8.8% — higher than 2007’s rate of 5.7%, but down from 2010’s rate of 10.4%.
To land an entry-level job in today’s competitive market, recent grads can look to these five tips to set themselves apart from the masses:
1. Boost your resume
“First-time job-seekers should fill their resumes with a variety of experiences necessary to thrive in the position for which they are applying. This may include part-time jobs held during college, volunteer work, professional student organizations and, most importantly, internships,” says Nathan Parcells, co-founder and CMO of InternMatch, an online platform that matches college students with employers.
“Most students put their education first,” says Dana Manciagli,author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job. “But you’re not a student anymore. On your resume, you’ve got to list your experience first, including volunteer positions.”
Grads should also avoid using self-aggrandizing terms such as “excellent” and “outstanding,” says Chuck Pappalardo, managing director of executive search firm Trilogy Search. “Instead use action-oriented words such as ‘completed’ and ‘improved.’”
“For instance, if you were the kitchen manager at a restaurant in college, say what you were charged with, what things you did to make work flow better and how you trained waiters.”