So, you’ve graduated from college…now what?
It’s time to polish your resume and start thinking seriously about employment opportunities.
This can be quite daunting because the job application process is brutal. Finding a job is your full-time job now, and ensuring that you put your best foot forward is integral to your career success.
The first and most important aspect of job hunting starts with your resume. Does thinking about your current resume make you cringe a little? Well, that may be a sign that you need to learn how to do it right.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to write a competitive resume for internships, entry-level jobs, or graduate school with examples.
There’s a lot to cover, but, we’ve got you covered!
Recent College Graduate Resume Summary
Just a reminder, you are not your resume!
Keep that in mind as we dive into the technicalities of writing resumes. You need to know what every resume needs to have a general understanding of how the system works and what people are looking for.
Let’s dive in.
The main purpose of a resume is to summarise your work experience, educational background, and your unique selling point.
All of these must be included in any resume:
- Contact information
- Detailed educational background
- Volunteer, and other work experience
- Awards & honours received
- Additional skills
These are just the basics, but the basics matter a great deal. You will adjust your resume and add other elements depending on the type of resume you’ll need.
But for now, let’s analyse each of the important resume elements and how to write them.
Your contact information should include email address, full name, and/or phone number.
An example of what that might look like is:
City, Country – (phone number)
Pro-tip: add your LinkedIn name so that they can get to know you better. If at this point you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you should get one. You’ll be able to connect with potential employers and colleagues.
If the job you’re applying for requires a portfolio of your work, you can link to your portfolio or website.
These are things that set you apart from other candidates and make you look more experienced and professional.
Here, you will highlight your educational background by showing your degree(s), certifications, and the institutions you’ve attended.
Things you should include in this section are:
- School name and location
- Your degree and field of study
- Graduation year and GPA
- Field of study
- Relevant honours and awards
Add information that’s relevant to your career experience. For example, if you’re applying to your first job after college, there’s no need to mention your high school. But, if you were applying to college, you’d need to mention it.
The keyword here is relevance!
Professional & Volunteer Experience
This section is an opportunity for you to showcase the value you’ve added to former employers.
Talk about your responsibilities and the importance of your work. This section shows potential employers that you have some work experience, and that you’re capable of being a good employee.
Though you may have limited work experience, since you’re a recent college graduate, add any work you’ve ever done. This will give people a better understanding of what you’ve done and what you can do.
Have you worked as a waiter? Then you can say you’ve worked in the hospitality industry and catered to customer service needs.
Have you worked in a library? Then you had administrative responsibilities and oversaw the administrative aspects of running a library.
Your work experience, however limited, might be more relevant than you think.
Now, here’s the key. List your responsibilities with strong action verbs instead of pronouns like “I”.
Here’s an example:
CloClo Restaurant & Bar
Waiter | Jan. 2015-July 2018
- Served customers in the restaurant
- Conducted customer care services
- Managed daily restaurant cash flow
See, it’s not about what you did, but about how you present it. Pay close attention to the way you word these sentences.
Pro-tip: try to keep the bullet points between 2-3 so that employers can scan through easily.
How to Write an Internship Resume
Now that you understand the basics of resume writing, let’s try to specialise it.
An internship resume is meant for recent college graduates who may not have extensive work experience.
There’s no need to worry if you don’t have many job experiences to add to your resume.
The internship resume is meant to showcase your strengths and to display your uniqueness to your potential employers.
This means that you can focus on showcasing achievements from your education, extra-curricular activities, and volunteer experiences. Make sure to highlight experiences where you displayed exceptional skills and creative thinking.
Here are some tips to help you write an impressive internship resume:
- Use your network: Ask professors or advisors to show you what your resume should include in your specific field. They may also have a better idea of your strengths and skills that could be relevant to your internship.
- Include your work experience: I’ll say it again, your work experience matters. Don’t downplay or underlook the work you’ve done. For an internship resume, your previous job experiences don’t have to align with the position you’re applying for.
- Write a compelling objective statement: Read through the job description and understand what your potential employer is looking for in a candidate. Use that as the basis for your objective statement. The objective statement should be two-three sentences stating your main strengths and career goals.
Include a section for your achievements: In case you have little to no work experience to include. You can include information about the clubs you’ve led, the awards you’ve earned, and other extra-curricular activities that you’ve excelled in.
If it feels confusing and overwhelming at this point, you’re not alone! Writing a resume is a tedious task, but it’s our goal to help you do it right.
On that note, here’s an example of a proper internship resume available for download.
How to Write a Graduate School Resume
Graduate schools use your resume to get to know you and your qualifications better.
By reading your resume, they get a better idea of what you’ve done, and what your professional and educational accomplishments are.
Unlike traditional job resumes, grad school resumes have a greater emphasis on education. The goal of your resume is to show your educational achievements.
Your work experience is an interesting factor, but it is not the main purpose of this type of resume. You’ll want to show your educational background and why you’ll be a good fit for the program you’re applying for.
What to include in your grad school resume:
- Educational background
- Awards, honours, and scholarships
- Study abroad programs
- List of classes relevant to the degree program
- Internship and/or volunteer experience
- Relevant professional work experience
- Publications (if applicable)
It’s important to note that you are trying to show admissions officers that you are a good fit for the degree program you’re applying for. Keep that in mind as you choose what to add or omit from your resume.
Here’s a graduate resume example available for download.
Resume Do’s and Don’ts
There are some simple things you can do to make your resume stand out and appear professional.
It’s very easy to make mistakes, but this list of do’s and don’ts will help you avoid the most common mistakes.
Let’s start with the don’ts.
Make sure that you don’t:
- Include personal information that is irrelevant to the job you’re applying for. If employers want specific things like a headshot, your marital status, etc., they’ll ask for it.
- Apply for jobs you don’t meet the requirements for. Honesty is a virtue! Don’t lie about your qualifications because that will do you more harm than good.
- Use cliches like “team player” unless explicitly stated in the job description.
- Neglect using the correct keywords for the job description because most companies use applicant tracking systems (APS) that scan for keywords.
Make sure that you do:
- Proofread and review your resume before submitting it.
- Make your resume concise. It should be one-to-two pages long.
- Optimise your resume for applicant tracking systems (APS) that may scan for keywords. This can be done through Resume Cats as it supports APS.
- Make your language as simple and concise as possible.
- Use the Resume Cats’ tools to build your own resume in just 15 minutes!
You now know what you need to write a good resume for your first job, graduate school, or internship position.
Make sure to check out more information on resume writing right here on Resume Cats!