It can be nerve-wracking to search for a job when you're a new college grad, especially if it seems like every job posting requires years of professional experience.
But rather than exaggerating your skills with fluffy words and phrases, best-selling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch says you should be realistic and transparent about the experience you bring to the table. This means removing common words like "seasoned," "accomplished" and "experienced" from your resume "right this minute," she tells CNBC Make It.
"I'm sorry. The truth is, virtually no twentysomething is a seasoned professional yet," Welch says.
A better approach, according to Welch: Just be honest about your background because in many cases hiring managers are aware of what you did in your last role.
"I know what you learned during your summer internship at a pharmaceutical company," she says. "You did some research — mention it. You attended some meetings where important things happened — describe what you saw and learned. You were given a small-ish project, and you nailed it — tell me about it."
"Working in PR for two years right out of college does not make you a 'veteran marketing executive,'" Welch continues. "It means you set up meetings with hard-to-reach people — congrats, mention that. It means you grew someone's Insta by 20%. Say so."
Welch emphasizes that hiring managers are interested in knowing about your "believable, reasonable wins." And if you're honest they will be impressed by "your accomplishments and your self-awareness."
"Look, you can't really game a resume. Any half-decent hiring manager has seen all the tricks and sleights of hand that are used for padding," Welch explains. "If your experience isn't all the way there for a job posting, but you just know you'd be perfect for it anyway — use a great cover letter to explain why."
Welch, who is the chair of the board at the music tech startup Quadio, adds, "I cannot count how many times that initiative has landed someone an interview with us."
Though getting your foot in the door is hard, Welch warns that you should always stay clear of over-selling yourself on your resume because "as with everything in life, the truth wins out."
"Someday you will be able to go ahead and call yourself seasoned, accomplished and experienced," she says. "Just make sure you wait until you really are."
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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