Resume Tips for the Recent Grad
How can a new job seeker emphasize a solid education over a short work
history? What is the best resume format for a recent graduate? Find out how
to focus on your knowledge and skills when you haven't had a lot of jobs.
Does your background have more schoolwork than paid work? Recent grads
often have more skills than job experience. If you're wondering if your education
and experience are enough to land that dream job, relax. The right resume
Choosing the Right Resume Format
If your employment history is on the short side, you'll need to use
a resume format that highlights your education and training. Kathryn
Troutman is a leading expert in resume writing and the author of Ten Steps to
a Federal Job for Young Professionals. She recommends the following resume
- Name, address, phone, e-mail
- Summary of skills (use the ones most relevant to your objective)
- Writing, editing, public speaking, research, computer skills, organizational
- Education (most recent college first)
- College, degree, major, date
- Honors you have received
- Major, courses, projects, papers (describe these)
- Work experience
- Volunteer experience
- Publications, speaking, languages, international travel
Susan Ireland is the owner of a California resume service and the author
of The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume. Her website, SusanIreland.com,
also suggests these possible headings: Exhibitions, Research, Lectures, Licenses,
and Certifications. If you have any experience in these areas, include them.
How to Emphasize Education and Training
The new job seeker should organize a resume so that education and training
appear before work experience.
"The organization of the recent graduate's resume with education before
employment history always emphasizes education, courses, honors, activities
and experiences," says Troutman.
Troutman gives an example: "If a recent graduate has worked as a waitress
or in retail, the skills that can be highlighted at the top can be: experienced
in public relations and customer services; works well under pressure and
with multiple assignments."
Ireland says that job seekers can also add internships, other relevant
experience, coursework and school activities, such as leadership in athletics
or extracurricular participation, to the work history section. Just don't
use the heading Employment History since Experience would be more appropriate.
Does Volunteer Work Count?
Ireland says that if your volunteer work is relevant to the position you're
applying for, go ahead and include it as part of your work history.
Troutman agrees. "Additionally, if the recent grad has been involved in
volunteer experiences, these experiences can be written up like a 'real job.'
They can write their volunteer job title, name of the agency, hours per week
and the duties. They can write about what they learned and the skills they
"The recent grad who has given their time to young people, seniors, other
nonprofit organizations shows they have empathy for people and [they] share
their time and skills with others. This is a bonus! And these skills may
be used in the next career!"
How Schoolwork Fits Into the Resume
Many of the skills you learn in school are skills potential employers
are looking for. That's why you shouldn't hesitate to include relevant schoolwork
as part of your work history.
Ireland suggests that if a graduate was working full time, then went back
to school and is now in the job market again, it works well to include the
time in school as a line in Work History.
"The recent graduate who has taken classes that
will support their next career should elaborate on the courses, projects,
papers (include the title) and the way the project was managed," says Troutman.
"If the student did independent research, original interviews with experts,
created a 10-page [presentation] with graphics, charts and photographs, led
a team of five students, or presented a collaborative 10-minute presentation
and got an A, that's good information for the recruiter."
Provide details to emphasize the skills you learned. "Describe
the course; include the title of a major project or presentation; describe
any research, writing and teamwork done on the project; be sure to write
if you were the team leader and if you gave a class presentation on the topic,"
The Latest and Greatest
Being fresh out of school without much work experience isn't always a
disadvantage in the job market. The recent graduate has some advantages,
with or without a strong employment history. In many fields, employers must
have employees with current knowledge.
Ireland says a recent degree tells an employer that the applicant's knowledge
is the latest information. She says that this is especially true in technology
and in any medical field. She believes that a potential employer looks
at a recent graduate as someone who is not set in their ways and who will
be able to grow with the company.
In addition, she says that those hiring employees directly out of school
are apt to think, "Here is someone who will likely be able to adapt to our
corporate culture. We can train this person to work in our style."
Implement these tips on focusing your resume on your education and training
and you'll see just how far those years of study can take you.