How to write a cover letter with no experience, a first job cover letter, or an entry-level cover letter that makes the best impression.
Congratulations. You earned your diploma.
Bad news :that and $4 will buy you a latte.
To get a job, you need experience. But you can’t get experience without a job, so you’re stuck in a vicious circle.
Or… are you?
Even if you haven’t worked while at college, you’ve still got tons of experience and skills that you can put on your new grad resume.
You just need to know to structure your college graduate resume the right way.
In this guide:
- A tried-and-tested recent college graduate resume template that gets jobs
- A real-life new graduate resume sample from a recent college grad like you.
- Tips for writing a college grad resume that shows you’re no mere newbie.
- Hacks for using the full potential of the education section on a new grad resume.
- How to make your education section shine in a resume for college graduates.
- The right approach to listing skills on your college graduate resume.
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Haven't found what you're looking for? Check all our resume samples.
What is a College Graduate Resume?
A college graduate resume is a document that presents your education, extracurricular activities, and skills. The college graduate resume should be short, to the point, and tailored to the job. Make sure to highlight any relevant work experience or internship as doing so will make you stand out from the crowd.
Recent College Graduate Resume Sample You Can Copy and Use
Prolific programmer skilled in Python and Java. Seeking to exceed coding KPIs at Procore. Created data analytics app that tracks 10,000 sensors. Developed scalable business management app with MySQL database. 2nd place contestant, TopCoder contest intermediate division.
BS Computer Science, Augsburg University
Data Science and Analytics
- Created soil sensor analytics that can track 10,000 sensors.
- Maintained 4.0 GPA in Data Analytics coursework.
- Developed traffic optimization app that would cut traffic 20%.
- Developed "money ball" app to build more effective sports teams.
- Wrote social media sentiment tracking app that won school fair.
- Assisted with development of open source cloud app SaaS to create legal forms. Forms have 500+ users per month.
- Created and managed 4 virtual machines.
Game Development & Design
- Developed 2 single-player games with Android Studio.
- Created models of 15+ 3D objects.
- Created bank management system in C. Added scalable MySQL database to track customer accounts, profiles, and preferences.
- Developed golf score tracking app with Android Studio that links to Google Sheets by API. Included data visualization functionality.
- Worked in team of 4 programmers to create RESTful API that works with Amazon to build store product databases.
- Wrote Pacman game in Swift and Java that works on desktop, Android, and iPhone. Received 1,400 downloads and a 4-star rating average.
2018—2nd Place, TopCoder Intermediate Division
- Attended Global Game Jam Hackathon 2019.
- President, TrogdorByterz Coding Club with 18 members.
- Teach music therapy classes to at-risk high school students.
- Avid road cyclist.
- Why Big Data Needs Machine Learning, Visitor Panel
- Pairs Programming Best Practices, HackSource
Hard Skills: Java, Python, C, PHP, app design, testing, debugging
Soft Skills: Teamwork, critical thinking, communication, problem solving
This resume is so impressive that we bet you didn’t notice that Sherry doesn’t have any in-house work experience! That’s right, she’s never been employed as a programmer.
Here’s how to make your new grad resume just as awesome.
1. Use a Professional College Graduate Resume Format
Don’t blow it.
If you don’t look the part, they won’t hire you.
That’s why resume formatting makes a difference.
Your safest bet is to go with a slightly tweaked version of the reverse-chronological resume format.
A typical reverse-chronological resume starts with a candidate’s work experience, followed by their education and then their skills, certifications, and so on. In your case, start with the education section and put your experience after it.
Then build it out like this:
The Foolproof Graduate Resume Format
- Opt for a 1-page resume—there’s no way you can fill a two-page resume with relevant achievements yet
- Set 1-inch margins on all sides
- Use Didot, Calibri, or another respected resume font. Set the font size to 10–12 pt.
- Make these resume sections: header, objective, education, experience, skills, and other sections if necessary.
- Don’t try to fill every square inch of your resume with text. Leave generous amounts of whitespace around each resume section.
- Use a professional resume builder with a built-in resume template library if you want to take the guesswork out of formatting your resume
- Unless your employer specifically wants your resume to be a DOCX file, send in a PDF resume. Otherwise, your carefully crafted resume could look like a trainwreck when opened on another device.
2. Write a Recent College Graduate Resume Objective or Summary
You’re not a clone. But—
You’d never know it once you’re buried in a stack of college graduate resumes.
Worse, you’re up against people with years of experience.
You’ve got to show your value fast.
That’s a brief paragraph with a couple greatest hits.
- An adjective (prolific, resourceful)
- Your job title
- How and where you’ll help (exceed coding KPIs at Procore)
- Best accomplishments (created own paid file clerk internship...)
- Some key skills (2nd place, TopCoder contest...)
Here’s a tip—
Skip the resume objective for now and complete the other sections of your resume first. You’ll thank us later
Take a look at these college graduate resume examples and see what resume objectives look like in action:
Resume for a Recent College Graduate: Resume Objectives
See the difference?
Both of those list app development and MySQL. But—
The first one adds created app that tracks 10,000 sensors and developed scalable MySQL database.
That’s the difference between saying you can do something and showing you have done it.
Expert Hint: College graduates earn 38% more than high school graduates. But to make college pay for itself, show what you did in school. That’s next.
3. Put College on Your College Grad Resume (That’s Not as Straightforward as You Might Think)
You’re in the top 36%.
That’s how many in your age bracket have college degrees.
But there’s a catch.
If you just list education, you’ll look sophomoric.
Make your resume education section count.
See this recent graduate resume sample:
College Graduate Resume Example—Education
That’s Good Will-Hunting-level.
You showed school projects with skills that matter to employers.
You can stretch out your recent college graduate resume education section into skills, classes, and projects like that, especially if you’re a graduate with no experience. As you progress in your career and gain more professional achievements, your education section will grow shorter and shorter until all that remains is just a brief mention of your latest degree.
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4. Write a Job-Winning Skills Section for Your College Graduate Resume
What skills go in a recent college graduate resume?
Here’s a list of the ones employers like:
Resume for College Graduate: Soft Skills Section
- Interpersonal skills
- Oral communication
- Written communication
- Work ethic
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Active listening
- Self motivation
- Computer Skills
The skills on this list are called soft skills or transferable skills. You can put these skills on your college graduate resume when applying for almost any job.
But most jobs need other skills, too—for example, no one’s going to hire a programmer who doesn’t list programming skills on their resume!
So… which technical skills should you put on your resume?
That depends on the job ad. Read it, find the skills they want, and show how you’ve moved mountains with them.
That’s called targeting your resume.
Don’t put too many skills in a resume for college graduates. That looks suspiciously like lying.
Look at these recent college graduate resume samples:
Say the job wants these skills: C, MySQL, Android Studio, collaboration, Java, sales, and problem solving.
To prove these skills, you can create resume sections named Projects and Experience and show how you’ve used your skills in practice.
College Graduate Resume: Listing Experience and Skills
For contrast, here’s a bad college graduate resume example:
The second of those college graduate resume examples lacks C, Android Studio, and all the other skills the job requires.
Unless the programming job also requires kayaking skills (for whatever reason), this candidate isn’t going to get far.
5. Add Bonus Material to Your College Graduate Resume
To impress employers, first impress yourself.
Look back on your past. What have you achieved? What skills have you already used?
Add those things in a few “extra” resume sections.
Try a couple of the following:
- School honor societies
- Volunteering positions
- Additional activities
- Sports teams or pursuits
These sample college graduate resumes show how:
College Graduate Resume—Extra Sections
Which of those college graduate resume examples would convince you?
The first one works because it lists accomplishments that are highly relevant to the job.
Expert Hint: Don’t forget to write a recent graduate cover letter with your resume. To wow recruiters, describe your passion for the company, and why you want to help.
Haven't written your cover letter yet? See:
Double your impact with a matching resume and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter maker and make your application documents pop out.
Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.
How to write a recent graduate resume:
- Use the college graduate resume template up top. It lets you show experience without a work history.
- Don’t just “list” your education. Show academic excellence and achievement based on skills.
- In you resume experience section, add proof you’ve learned the skills recruiters want.
- Communicate your character by adding resume sections like projects or volunteering.
Got questions on how to write a great college graduate resume? Having trouble getting a response to your recent graduate resume? Leave a comment. We’ll be happy to reply!