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Resume Extras for College Grads

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Thursday, January 4, 2007; 6:14 PM

Sometimes job seekers need something a little more -- something beyond the standard resume and cover letter -- to catch the attention of hiring managers. This can be especially true for graduates, who must illustrate their skills without being able to call on extensive work experience.

Including supporting documentation when possible is one way to do that, according to George Washington University career advisor Marva Gumbs-Jennings, who offers tips on what to include in a successful application packet.

Know the basics. Most applications benefit from writing samples of some kind. Also worth including is information about student activities and related accomplishments that illustrate leadership qualities or the ability to work in teams. "A great many of our students are involved in leadership, with student groups, in the community or are involved in athletics," Gumbs-Jennings says. "Part of presenting themselves and their background is talking about their contributions to the community, to a team or to a cause."

Show some class. Think your coursework doesn't matter? Think again. Many graduate job seekers think, "It was part of a class, that's not what I can publicize," says Gumbs-Jennings. That's a mistake, she says, because strong coursework can illustrate awareness, depth of knowledge and work ethic. Examples of projects to consider might be publications and film excerpts for media students, marketing plans for finance majors and research reports -- perhaps conducted with faculty help -- for international studies students. Just make sure that what you submit can be linked in some way to the specific position you're applying for.

Get help from above. Internships are generally are the best way to show prospective employers what you've accomplished in a given field while in school, says Gumbs-Jennings, as well as a way to demonstrate interest in a line of work. A recommendation letter from an internship supervisor is an excellent way to show a hiring manager what you've learned outside the classroom in any line of work.

Do your homework. Job seekers at mid- and senior levels are encouraged to tailor their applications to specific employers and job descriptions rather than sending out mass mailings, and this applies to graduates as well, according to Gumbs-Jennings. By taking the time to investigate openings carefully, you can better illustrate interest and knowledge and set yourself apart. "Do your research, then apply," she says. "The information you'll send is much more meaningful that way."

-- Rachelle Douillard-Proulx


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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