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  2. College Graduate
Written by Anna MuckermanAnna Muckerman

College Graduate resume example & writing guide

If you’ve got that fresh degree in hand and are looking to get a foothold in your field, this college graduate resume example will guide you to success.
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College Graduate resume example & writing guide
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Job hunting as a college graduate can often feel like a competitive sport. When you’re up against hundreds of other fresh graduates with the same diploma in hand, your resume needs to be sharp and professional to stand out and land your perfect entry-level position. Whether you hold a degree in computer science, business, or foreign languages, your resume serves as your professional toolkit—an essential resource for presenting the perfect blend of skills and experiences to secure your foothold in the world of your chosen industry.

As a recent college graduate, first impressions matter, and potential employers form judgments based on the initial glimpse of your resume. The challenge for recent graduates is to showcase what sets them apart, both academically and professionally via internships and extracurricular experiences. If you're ready to elevate your resume game, we're here to help you write your way to success in your entry-level job search.

Resume guide for a college graduate

Land your first job after graduation with Resume.io. Our guides and resume examples cover over 500 professions, and our resume builder makes creating a compelling resume easier than ever.

This resume guide and corresponding college graduate resume example will cover the following:

  • How to write a college graduate resume
  • Choosing the right resume format for college graduate
  • How to add your contact information
  • Using summaries
  • Adding your college graduate experience
  • Listing education and relevant experience
  • Picking the right resume design/layout
  • What job prospects and salary you can expect as a college graduate

How to write a college graduate resume

To get started writing the best resume for a recent college graduate, you’ll need to understand what sections to include. Your resume should contain the following elements:

Your new grad resume is your initial introduction to potential employers and serves as the gateway for them to get to know you better. Your objective is to show hiring managers what makes you unique and what experiences you’ve gained beyond your degree.

To construct a compelling narrative, start by thoroughly reviewing the job description. Ask yourself a few questions to help you determine the company’s ideal candidate:

  • Is this role suitable for a recent grad?
  • What is the work environment like?
  • What is the corporate culture of this company?
  • What kind of tasks and responsibilities are associated with the position?
  • How large is the team you might be working with?
  • What problem does the company want the person working in this position to solve?

While this may seem like a mundane exercise, understanding the nuances of the prospective workplace allows you to tailor your resume to position yourself as the ideal candidate. Identify the employer's objectives and illustrate how your skills and experiences align seamlessly with their goals—this is the key element that sets your application apart.

On your resume, aim to emphasize achievements rather than just responsibilities. While many recent graduates possess fundamental skills, can you showcase instances where you went beyond the basics? Have you contributed to the success of previous professional endeavors like internships? How have you enhanced the overall experience for those you worked with? Let your resume reflect your track record of success in your college and extracurricular activities.

Expert tip

Consider the ATS (Applicant Tracking System)

If you’re a recent college grad, you’ll likely be applying to positions using online application portals. You should be aware of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Algorithms built into these portals that scan resumes for specific keywords outlined in the job description. Resumes that don’t rank high enough can get filtered out before ever being reviewed by a hiring manager. 

Follow these steps to increase your chances of making it to the employer’s desk:

  1. Closely align your resume with the employer's language, incorporating keywords strategically, especially in the summary and skills section.
  2. Keep your resume format clear and straightforward to facilitate easy scanning by ATS, avoiding excessive graphics or elements that may confuse the system.
  3. Don’t engage in keyword stuffing—adding misleading, hidden, or excessive keywords on your resume just to beat the bots. Hiring managers frown upon this practice.

Choosing the right resume format for a new graduate 

Selecting the best format for your recent graduate resume largely hinges on your level of professional experience. Whenever possible, we recommend the reverse chronological resume format with a focus on the employment history section as this is the format hiring managers expect to see from professional candidates. If your work history is limited, you can include internships and college jobs (related to your field of study) as part of your employment history. 

If your work history is limited or predominantly consists of jobs outside of your field of study, the functional resume format could be advantageous. This format places a greater spotlight on your skill set, allowing you to highlight your competencies and capabilities instead of past roles. It can be a good option for fresh grads or those transitioning to a new field.

For a head start, check our resume examples tailored to the reverse chronological format to guide you through the process. You can easily modify them for your own experience inside of our intuitive resume builder.

Include your contact information

Your contact information is an essential part of your fresh grad resume, but one that many recent graduates get wrong. Your contact details should be prominently displayed in your resume header so that potential employers can easily reach you to set up an interview. Here are the essential pieces of information:

  • Full name and professional title. As a fresh grad, it’s OK to use the professional title of the entry-level role you are applying to.
  • Phone number. This should be a number you check regularly and is accessible during business hours. Make sure you have a working voicemail so a hiring manager can leave you a message.
  • Email address. You’d be surprised how many recent graduates are still using silly email addresses. Your email address should be professional and include some part of your name. Make a new email account once you graduate as you should not include a .edu address on a job application.
  • LinkedIn or portfolio website. An up-to-date LinkedIn profile is one of the best ways to signal to a potential employer that you take your career seriously. In some fields such as design or journalism, you will also want to include a link to your professional portfolio website.

Your contact information is key to landing an interview and the job. Make sure it is easy to find and easy to read.

Do
Don't
Pie chart with the U.S. college graduate rate
Pie chart with the U.S. college graduate rate

Make use of a summary

On a recent college graduate resume, a well-written summary is a superpower. In just a few concise sentences, you have the opportunity to present yourself as an outstanding candidate who has both the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to contribute to their organization and enhance the overall workplace experience.

A well-crafted summary extends beyond a mere listing of your previous roles—that information can be detailed further down your resume. The primary aim of the summary is to spotlight your skills and your professional personality which makes you a rising star. Make sure to write with energy and use verbs such as "applied, implemented, optimized, increased, and led," and quantify your accomplishments and present yourself as motivated and responsible.

Your summary should emphasize your strongest skills as a recent graduate and explain why you are the perfect fit for the specific job to which you are applying. Again, refer to the job description to develop a picture of the company’s ideal candidate. Embrace your distinctive strengths, and allow your summary to paint a vivid picture of the value you bring.

Keep in mind that hiring managers are busy people. Your summary is your initial opportunity to capture their attention and encourage them to read the rest of your resume. Keep it concise, focused, and positive to show why you’re the candidate the company has been looking for.

You can find our resume example summaries for recent graduates below:

Summary sample for a recent grad on a corporate track:

Motivated and dynamic marketer with a recent Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, equipped with a solid foundation of key digital marketing principles and a proactive mindset. Possesses excellent analytical and problem-solving skills honed through rigorous coursework and internships, contributing to successful project outcomes. Eager to apply academic knowledge and practical experiences to a corporate role, bringing a fresh perspective and dedication to achieving organizational goals.

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Summary sample for a recent grad in a creative field:

Motivated and creative graphic designer with a recent degree in fine arts, with a passion for visual storytelling and innovative design concepts. Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite, with a keen eye for aesthetics and attention to detail. A proactive and collaborative team player, I have successfully translated conceptual ideas into visually appealing designs during internships and coursework projects. Eager to contribute a fresh perspective and creativity to a dynamic creative team, leveraging a blend of academic knowledge and practical skills.

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Summary example for a recent grad looking for a part-time job:

Energetic recent graduate seeking a part-time role in the retail sector. Holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, providing a solid foundation in customer service, inventory management, and business operations. Possesses strong communication and interpersonal skills, cultivated through coursework and previous experiences. Excited to apply business principles and enthusiasm to contribute to the success of a major fashion retailer.

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Outline your college graduate work experience: a strong report card 

Your recent academic journey is a valuable asset for potential employers but it can’t be the only experience listed on your resume. To compete among other grads and established professionals, you’ll need to create a strong employment history section tailored to the specific job you're applying for.

Begin by highlighting your most recent academic experiences at the top and work backward, capturing your educational background over the last few years. We recommend finding at least three “professional” experiences which can include student jobs, leadership positions, internships, and any other relevant experiences that directly align with the position you are pursuing. 

For each role, create a subheading with the job title, employer or school name, dates worked, and location. Then, construct 3-4 concise, results-based bullet points outlining your responsibilities and achievements in that role. Begin each point with an action verb and aim to incorporate quantifiable data and statistics whenever applicable. This structured presentation ensures that your resume will make you look like a qualified candidate, even as a recent grad.

Expert tip

Who works for whom?

One mistake commonly found on new graduate resumes is the sense that the employer’s job opening would be a big opportunity for the recent grad. When writing your resume, remember that your goal is to show how your skills and experience would benefit the employer and not how getting the job would be a great stepping stone in your career. Even if you don’t have much professional experience yet, your work ethic and fresh ideas can be a vital asset to a company.

You can find even more sample sentences in our college resume example below:

Adaptable employment history resume example

Marketing Intern at LA Athletic Company, Los Angeles 
June 2020 - August 2020 

  • Supported 5-person marketing team on seasonal email campaign which resulted in 2x higher than average open rate.
  • Conducted market research on competitors by synthesizing data from 20 sources to inform 2021 strategy.

 

Waitress/Hostess at Champions Sports Bar and Grill, Los Angeles 
September 2017 - March 2020 

  • Ensured high quality customer service leading to various positive online reviews and comments.
  • Trained 3 new team members on opening and closing procedures resulting in higher restaurant efficiency.
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Including the most relevant skills for a recent graduate position 

Your skills section is a crucial step in beating the automated resume scanners and getting reviewed by a hiring manager. While this section may seem like a simple list, it’s important to craft it carefully based on the job description and include a mix of hard and soft skills.

First, let’s look at the difference between hard and soft skills. Hard skills encompass concrete, technical proficiencies specific to your college degree and field of study, such as data analysis, programming languages, or project management. Conversely, soft skills involve interpersonal qualities and attributes contributing to effective collaboration and communication. These may include adaptability, communication, leadership, and teamwork.

As a recent college graduate, your resume should strike a balance, showcasing both the technical proficiency (hard skills) learned in your coursework and relevant to your field and the interpersonal strengths (soft skills) crucial for effective professional interactions. Make use of the employer’s exact language from the job description when presenting your skills, ensuring alignment with the employer's expectations. For instance, if the job posting emphasizes "team collaboration," incorporate this exact phrase in your skills section rather than using a more general term like "team player." This precision not only optimizes your resume for automated scans but also resonates more effectively with hiring managers.

You can find our adaptable skills resume sample below.

Key Skills and Proficiencies 

Writing
Computer
Presentation
Communication
Creative Writing
Supervision
Training

Detail your education & relevant certifications as a recent graduate

As a recent grad, your education is one of your strongest selling points. This is also the only time in your career where your education section can sit on top of your experience section. Make sure to list your degrees in reverse chronological order (most recent to oldest) and include the degree name, school, dates attended, and location. You should also include one or two bullet points with academic achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

The education section is also the best place to add memberships, organizations, clubs, scholarships, and certifications you hold. Check out our adaptable education resume sample below.

Adaptable education resume example

Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 
September 2019 - May 2021 

  • GPA: 3.8
  • Relevant Coursework: Marketing Research Methods, Consumer Behavior Analysis, Advertising Campaigns
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Pick the right resume layout and design for a new graduate resume

Your professional presentation as a fresh grad extends beyond the writing of your resume to the layout and design of your application. To create a strong first impression, you’ll need to pay attention to the spacing, fonts, and color used on your resume. As with your writing, your layout should be tailored to the job you are applying for. A professionally designed resume template makes it easy to test out different styles.

Above all, remember to keep a balance of white space to text on your resume so that your resume is easy to digest at a glance. Make sure your name appears in a larger font size and your contact information is prominently displayed in your header. We recommend choosing just one accent color and font style and using bold or italic text for emphasis. Remember, when in doubt, less is more. A dialed-down resume won’t impact your chances of landing the job the way an eccentric, colorful one will.

Key takeaways for your college graduate resume

  1. Your fresh graduate resume is the key to unlocking your first career opportunities.
  2. While writing your resume, make sure to think about how your skills and education can serve an employer’s needs.
  3. Your education section is a great place to add clubs, scholarships, and academic achievements.
  4. Don’t overlook your resume layout. Our adaptable recent grad resume sample can help you get started.
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