Career Resource Center

What Recent College Graduates Need to Know About Their Resume

If you’ve recently graduated from college – or are about to graduate – getting a great resume should be your #1 priority.  Building a successful career now that you’ve got your degree takes time and effort.  However, you can set yourself up for immediate success if you have a resume that generates multiple job offers.  The most common problem we see that hold recent grads back is their resume.

Recent graduates can face a number of challenges during their job search that more experienced candidates don’t face.  For example, many students complain that all employers say they want “an entry-level candidate with five years of experience.”  So, how do you overcome your lack of experience and get hired so that you can actually start building your experience?

Don’t undersell your education!

Unfortunately, many recent college students neglect their education when crafting their resumes.  However, if you don’t give your education the attention it deserves, how can you expect an employer to care about your education either?  Think of your education just like work experience and sell it to potential employers as such.  Do you have a bachelor’s degree?  That’s four years of experience where you had to show up on time, perform tasks that were assigned, learn new skills, and demonstrate those skills while collaborating with others.

Here are some common skills are interested in and examples of how they relate to your college experience:

  • Ability to work effectively with teams – Did you do any group projects in college?  If so, explain one of those projects on your resume to show that you have actual experience working with teams.
  • Problem solving – Have you taken any tests, written any difficult papers, or done any research projects?  If so, chances are that you used your problem-solving abilities.  Don’t forget to list that you’re a great problem solver on your new resume!
  • Time management – Balancing a schedule of 4-6 classes per week takes time management skills.  So, if time management is a requirement of the position you’re applying for, don’t forget to explain during an interview – or on your resume – how you used your time management skills to coordinate your schedule.
  • Interpersonal communication – If you’ve ever helped another student, collaborated with a group on a presentation, sent an email to your professor, or written an essay, you’ve been using interpersonal communication skills.
  • Computer skills – Many younger people take their computer skills for granted.  Don’t!  Many older employees with more experience than you might not have the same computer skills you do.  Even if you’re not applying for a position that is focused on technology, you should still mention your computer skills in your resume.  Surprisingly, many people don’t know how to send an attachment over email, search effectively for a solution on the internet, or manage their files on their computer.  If you have these types of skills, you’re already ahead of many candidates with more experience.

Make sure to list any accolades you’ve received during your education.

If you’ve ever been on the Dean’s List, had a GPA above 3.0, graduated magna cum laude, and/or won any awards while at school, you should be listing these accolades on your resume.  CNBC says 2 million students graduate with a bachelor’s degree every year!  However, you can set yourself apart from other graduates by listing your accolades on your resume.  It could be the difference between getting an interview and silence.

Provide a list of relevant classes you’ve completed.

Under your education section, you can include a subsection that neatly lists your relevant classes.

A bachelor’s degree in business administration is great – but many employers haven’t been to college in years and don’t recognize the value of this education.  You can refresh their memory and make them more likely to hire you by including a list of relevant classes you’ve completed.  For example, if you’re applying to an accounting position, you’ll probably want to list that you’ve completed Intermediate Accounting, Introduction to Accounting, Accounting Regulations, Business Finance, etc. etc.

Explain any capstone courses or important projects that you worked on.

You spent a lot of time and money on your education, so make sure it pays off by showcasing some of what you actually did in college.  For example, if you’re applying to a mechanical engineering position, you should explain a project that you worked on in one of your classes.  Maybe you used CAD to design a robotic arm – if so, talk about what software you used, what you designed, why you chose to design it, and why it was a great project.

Don’t forget about your internship!

81% of college graduates report that their internship was essential to helping them get hired.  Unfortunately, that internship isn’t going to help you get hired if you don’t showcase it prominently on your resume.  Make sure you list the name of the company you worked for, the type of internship it was (I.E. Marketing Research Internship), and several of the most important responsibilities you were given during that internship.

Keep your resume on one page.

If you’re a recent college graduate with less than five years of work experience, your resume should NEVER be longer than one page.  If you’re not sure how to format or style your resume, here are some quick rules:

  • Bullet points are better than paragraphs.
  • Pictures do not belong on modern resumes unless you’re applying for a modeling or acting job.
  • Size 10 font is the minimum.  Arial is your friend.  Courier is your enemy.
  • Use one column instead of two.
  • Tables are better than text boxes.
  • Headers should be condensed to no more than three lines of space.
  • Objectives are outdated.
  • Headlines are for executives.
  • High school education shouldn’t be included.
  • Don’t repeat yourself.
  • Use some color but not so much that it distracts from the content.
  • Separate your sections with horizontal lines.

If you still aren’t sure how to write a great resume, let the experts at Resume Writing Group help you jumpstart your career by crafting a great resume for you.  Or – if you’ve already put together a resume, send us your draft and we’ll let you know if you’re on the right track!


Need help with your resume?

We offer a FREE resume critique! Simply fill out a few fields and upload your resume!

Get the information you need to land your dream job faster – delivered to your inbox, every week.