Graduating From College Without a Resume? We’ll Show You How to Write One

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Table of Contents



1. Students, Don’t Leave College Without a Resume!
2. Need Extra Resume Writing Help?

Now that you’ve earned your college degree, it’s time to equip yourself with another piece of paper. A powerful resume is critical to landing an interview and entering the workforce. Take control of your future and make the most of your time by writing your professional story thus far. Do you have minimal or no work experience? Don’t worry. Everyone has to start somewhere.

When creating your document, the most important thing to keep in mind is your reader. Recruiters spend an average of six short seconds skimming a resume before they decide to move on or learn more. Follow these 15 steps to craft a convincing college student’s resume.

Students, Don’t Leave College Without a Resume!


1. Adhere to a One-Page Limit


Unless you have more than 10 years of professional experience, it’s best to keep your resume to one page. Your goal isn’t to share every single thing you did; instead, it is to entice your audience with the most important information.

Your goal isn’t to share every single thing you did; instead, it is to entice your audience with the most important information.

Make your document easy for recruiters to skim and identify the most important pieces of information. Keep your page organized with consistent formatting and fonts.

2. Outsmart the Bots


Many employers use automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sort through resumes and weed out approximately 75% of them. Fortunately, there are easy ways to ensure your college student resume is one of the 25% that does make it to a real person.

The best way to survive the ATS is to pay close attention to the job description. Note important words and phrases that describe the role’s responsibilities and requirements. Insert this exact phrasing naturally throughout your resume, especially in the skills and work history sections. Compare your resume to the job description. Did you incorporate these critical words and phrases?

Note: ATS bots are not created equally, so there is no golden number of skills to include in your resume. Just do your best to incorporate all of the capabilities that you possess.

3. Keep Your Contact Information Professional


Begin your resume with your name, phone number, and email address. If you are still using an unprofessional email address from high school, now is the time to update. You want recruiters to take you seriously; old handles like “pizza4life” or “SurfGurl03” won’t cut it. Ideally, your email address will include your name.

If you are still using an unprofessional email address from high school, now is the time to update. You want recruiters to take you seriously.

4. Use a Summary Statement


Place your summary statement under your contact information. Modern employers prefer to see this instead of the old objective statement.

Staff trainer Brian Magrath explains, “We already get it: You want the job.” Instead of telling the employer what you want, explain what you bring to the table in three to five powerful sentences. Simply omit the “I” pronoun from your college student’s resume.

6. Organize Your Experience


After the skills section comes either the relevant experience or education section. If you had at least two significant internships or volunteer positions, these should go first. However, you have no professional experience, your degree comes first on your college student’s resume.

7. Add Dates and Locations


Whether you are talking about a previous role or your education, be consistent with dates and locations. This means that you can’t switch from “Jan. 2017” to “March 18” in the middle of your work history section.

Show consistency.

Always include the city and state where you worked or earned your degree. If you currently hold a job and you started in January, for example, format the dates worked as “January 2018 – present.”

8. Quantify Your Accomplishments


If you have professional experience, try to quantify your duties and accomplishments whenever possible. Numbers and figures read especially well with recruiters. Some examples include “Answered 50 phone calls per day,” “Boosted social media engagement by 10%,” “Assisted with coding of five programs,” or “Trained eight interns.”

If you don’t have any experience, then quantify your scholastic accomplishments. For instance, a college student applying for a role that requires a lot of writing could write “Wrote two to five essays a week” to express their dedication to the written word.

9. Include Relevant Coursework


If you have little or no work experience, then you should focus heavily on your academic successes. After listing your degree and university, convince recruiters you know your stuff by naming relevant coursework. The keyword is relevant. If you are applying to a sales job, there’s no need to list Painting 101, no matter how much you loved it.

If you have little or no work experience, then you should focus heavily on your academic successes.

10. List Awards and Achievements


Prove that you have an excellent work ethic by listing any awards and achievements you earned while in school. Although it is okay to list honors that demonstrate your academic prowess, it is even more effective to bring attention to accolades you earned for leadership or other professional skills. A Rhodes, Fulbright, or other distinguished scholarship absolutely belongs on your college student’s resume.

11. Show Off Your GPA


In your first year or two after college, it is acceptable to include your grade point average on your resume. After that, it’s best to reserve the paper space for professional experience. Only list your GPA if you earned a 3.5 or higher.

Only list your GPA if you earned a 3.5 or higher.

12. Mention Extracurricular Activities


Were you involved in student government or recruitment at school? Be sure to add these details to your college student’s resume. Even if you don’t have professional experience, being active in extracurricular activities makes you a valuable candidate to hiring managers. This is particularly true if you participated in a leadership or marketing role.

Take a moment to consider how your extracurricular activities strengthened leadership skills. Let’s say that you were involved with dance programs and you choreographed some routines. Therefore, you conceptualized a project, shared your idea with your peers, gave them feedback, managed their progress, and ultimately brought your idea to life.

Take a moment to consider how your extracurricular activities strengthened leadership skills.

Contemplate your extracurricular activities and determine how your experience could transfer to the professional world. Even if you weren’t president of a club, you probably exercised some leadership muscles without realizing it!

13. Do Not List References


Don’t even think about including references at the bottom of your resume. In fact, don’t even write, “References available upon request.” Recruiters nowadays consider these wastes of space and may even find them presumptuous. If an employer wants to hire you, he or she will ask you for references.

14. Proofread Your Document


Be sure to proofread and edit your college student’s resume for spelling errors and grammatical consistency. Check that you’ve used the correct tense for current and past roles. Magrath recommends having a friend read your document with a fresh set of eyes to catch anything you missed. If you’re feeling shy, read your resume out loud. You’ll catch more errors this way.

Be sure to proofread and edit your college student’s resume for spelling errors and grammatical consistency.

15. Save as a PDF


Avoid the tragic scenario where your formatting appears differently to recruiters. Ensure they see your resume the same way you do by saving it as a PDF, not a Word document. Complete your final product by saving with a straightforward title: FirstName_LastName_Resume.

Need Extra Resume Writing Help?



We have several easy-to-use tools to help you write a college student’s resume and cover letter. Check out MyPerfectResume’s personalized resume builder to take the guesswork out of the task. Create a professional document that tells your story and shows recruiters you are ready to apply your education in the working world.