A recent college graduate typically doesn’t have much work experience. However, college grads can still write strong resumes that will get them hired. By emphasizing unpaid internships, volunteer work, and positions in school organizations, a college graduate can show he or she has the skills needed to succeed in the workforce.
Read below for tips on writing a strong college graduate resume. Also see below for a resume sample for a recent college graduate.
What to Include in Your Resume
Begin with a resume summary. A resume summary (sometimes called a “summary of qualifications” or “qualifications profile”) is a statement (either narrative or formatted in bullets) at the top of a resume that immediately attracts a hiring manager’s attention to the skills you would bring to their organization.
The summary statement should be placed immediately below your name and contact information. Use this section to demonstrate that you have the qualifications that are emphasized in the job listing of the position you’re applying for.
Use keywords. To make your resume stand out, use words from the job listing in your resume. You might include these keywords in your resume summary, your descriptions of work experiences, and/or your section headings. For example, if the listing says the company is seeking a candidate who is “tech-savvy,” you might include a section called “Technological Skills.” Again, use words that clearly link your resume to the job listing.
Mention a high GPA. At this point, at the beginning of your career, it’s a good strategy to include your GPA on your resume if it is 3.5 or above. You should also include any academic awards (Dean’s List, scholarships, etc.). After you’ve racked up three or four years of work experience, though, you can remove this information from your resume, replacing it with examples of professional achievements.
Emphasize your soft skills. “Soft skills” like teamwork, leadership, or good communication talents are always a selling point with employers. For many entry-level positions, they can be as important as job-specific hard skills. Describe how, during your college years, you have led or contributed to team projects, either in the classroom or as a member of campus or extracurricular organizations. Additional soft skills that are good to mention include: active listening skills, “people” skills, decision-making, and self-motivation.
Tips for Writing an Effective Resume for a Recent College Graduate
Emphasize education. As a recent college graduate, your education is one of your strongest assets. Include an “Education” section towards the top of your resume. Include the college you attended, your graduation date, and your major and minor. If you have a strong GPA, include that as well. You might also include any study abroad experiences. Most employers see a well-traveled student as a plus.
Highlight any related experience. If you have any work experience, include this. However, you can also include any other relevant experience. This might include volunteer experience, unpaid internships, or positions in school organizations. Even if these are unpaid positions, they can still display the qualities that will make you a strong candidate for a job opening.
Use resume examples. When writing your first resume out of college, it can be hard to know where to start. Examples can give you ideas on how to structure your resume and what kind of language to include. Check out these student resume samples, as well as the sample below. However, make sure to always revise an example to fit your own background and experience.
Edit, edit, edit. Thoroughly proofread your resume for spelling and grammar errors before submitting it. Also make sure your format is consistent: for example, you should use the same size bullet points throughout your resume. Ask a friend, family member, or college career counselor to read through your resume as well.
College Graduate Resume Example
This is an example of a resume for a college graduate. Download the resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
College Graduate Resume Example (Text Version)
35 White Street
New York, NY 10001
Soon-to-graduate honors college student, fluent in Spanish and with several years of teaching and tutoring the language to adults and students, seeks a position as a translator at a top East Coast firm.
ABC UNIVERSITY, New York, NY
Bachelor of Arts in Education, May 2019 (Expected Graduation Date)
Double Majors: English and Latin American Studies; Minor: Spanish; Overall GPA: 3.875
- Honors and dean’s list every semester.
- Studied abroad in Bogota, Colombia, January-May 2017.
- Served as president of the school Spanish club; tutored nearly two dozen students in Spanish.
- Received three “Best Student Awards.”
CERVANTES LIBRARY, New York, NY
Library Assistant, September 2016-Present
Perform general administrative duties to support professional staff and assist students with research.
- Designed a presentation, published to the university website, outlining how to most effectively use all of ABC University’s facilities when undertaking a research project.
- Received award for “Outstanding Student Employee of the Year” due to excellent customer service and research skills.
CALLES Y SUEÑOS CULTURAL SPACE, Bogota, Columbia
Intern, Spring 2017
Helped design and implement programs in which community-based artists traveled to schools to work with children, teaching them about expression through art.
- Assisted teaching complimentary English lessons to community members of all ages.
QUEENS COMMUNITY LIBRARY, Queens, NY
English Tutor/Volunteer, January 2015-May 2015
Assisted students in writing and proofreading essays, utilizing rhetorical devices.
- Cataloged thousands of donated books, CDs, and DVDs in Excel database.
- Started a weekly book club group to help elementary students learn basic Spanish.
Summer Counselor, NY Arts Camp, Catskill, NY • Trombonist, All-State Wind Ensemble • Swim Team Assistant Coach, YMCA, Brooklyn, NY • Editor-in-Chief, ABC University Student Newspaper
More College Resume Samples
Review more resume examples for college students and recent graduates, listed by type of position and type of job.
How to Get Your Resume Noticed
LEAD WITH A RESUME SUMMARY. Spark a hiring manager’s immediate interest in your candidacy by briefly listing the qualifications and soft skills that you can offer. Particularly emphasize the skills that are requested in the “Preferred Qualifications” section of the job announcement.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS: Including significant college and extracurricular accomplishments like a high GPA, leadership roles, fellowships, and academic recognitions will help you to stand out from the other job candidates.
MAKE YOUR RESUME LETTER-PERFECT. Most hiring managers regard sloppy, poorly-written resumes as an indication of a candidate’s general work performance. Carefully edit your resume to correct grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors. Then, just to be on the safe side, have a college advisor, friend, or loved one read over it as well.