How to Write a Resume When You Are Just Out of College

A majority of college students after graduation come to realize that they need to apply for jobs. Statistics showed that in July 2017, 4% of freshly graduated college students were unemployed in the US. This turns out to be such a complete challenge since they do not know what to include in their resume as a result of not being employed previously or the jobs which they held while in school being too informal. But there are strategies for how to write a resume, and a good one at that, that college students can put into use to ensure they land jobs even with minimal to no experience.

How to Write a Resume When You Are Just Out of College
How to Write a Resume When You Are Just Out of College

The first strategy is by Laura Decarlo, an executive director of Careers Directors International; she advised that students should list training and skills, then education followed by experience and employment. The other format includes having objectives at the top of the resume followed by education and relevant coursework, then experience and skills. She further continued to explain that the two formats are easier for an employer to take in.

Let us go into detail about how to write a resume for a fresh graduate.

1. School Achievements

List the school that you attended, your major, as well as the year you graduated. Do not forget to include honors, if any, while including your grade point average if it?s impressive. List the coursework relevant to your career objective. For example, you can include accounting if interviewing for an accounting firm.

Include scholarships and especially if the scholarship was as a result of great performance in a specific field. Some companies have college degrees as a minimum for their jobs, so it?s very important that this information is in your resume.

2. List a Clear Career Objective

If you are clear on what you want to do, the job application process becomes much easier for you. Include this in your career objective so that your potential employer can know that you?re focused. Tailor your career objective to fit the job description.

3. Add Course Work Relevant to the Job Description

Some of what you covered in your coursework could be presented as work experience. This especially applies to practical classes or lab/workshop lessons. For example, students in the hospitality could list lessons that they spent coming up with recipes and preparing actual meals as experience while engineering students could list workshops and design lessons, etc. Don?t leave the experience section of your resume blank, think outside the box and you?ll get a lot from your coursework that amounts to experience.

4. Scrutinize Your Extracurricular Activities

Students often dismiss their extracurricular activities since they think that only formal employment or internship matters. But activities such as coordinating a fundraising, event management and social groups impress employers.

While at it, stress about any volunteering work and teamwork activities that you were involved in since recruiters find this interesting.

5. Include Prior Work Experience Related or Unrelated to the Job

Past employment can be valuable even if not related to the job. This shows that you have responsibility, experience in a working environment as well as that you?ve acquired necessary job skills such as communication and organizational skills.

This also shows consciousness and readiness to work, and employers appreciate such qualities.

6. Write Using Active Verbs

This involves translating your experience into active language, that is, instead of ?helped? use ?assisted.? You could also use collaborate, consolidate, convince and promote. For tense, use past unless the event is ongoing.

7. Consider an Alternative Format

Instead of using the normal format of objectives, education, employment, and skills, consider writing a resume listing skills and training. With bullet points, list education background followed by experience all in one line.

8. Be Specific in Your Description

Being specific implies quantifying and putting numbers to your descriptions. For example, say you managed to increase productivity by 50% through improvements to work procedures that you came up with or that the business saw a 70% increase in sales, etc. Give specifics to your contribution in previous jobs.

9. Examine How You Look at Menial Jobs

Many jobs that one might think are low-level can cast an impressive light on employers. For example, one may babysit and that can be seen as a menial job, but when you babysit 5 kids per day, you can be considered a child care manager, providing recreational activities and nutritional snacks.

Such menial jobs, as it were, could demonstrate some qualities that employers are keen on such as working with no supervision or time management, among many others.

10. Include References

This could be your dean back in college or bosses/managers from previous employment. They will help validate the information you?ve provided while also put in a good word in your character. But you need to be careful of who you list as a referee, make sure that they have something positive to say about you.


A resume should be a carefully thought out document, with a clear career objective and detailed, vivid descriptions of work experience, coursework, and other relevant activities. College students, unlike experienced employees, might not have much to write. Freshly graduated students without knowledge of resume writing might be left unemployed. However, they should not despair but should include their school achievements, acquired skills while in and out of school and not forget their coursework. Finally, when not sure about what to share in your resume, seek professional advice or ask a friend with more experience in this field.

Share with us your experience and the challenges faced when looking for a job when you?re just out of college. Your comments could help other graduates looking for their first job!

Author bio

Kevin Nelson is a professional educator and a private tutor with over 8 years of experience. He is also a content writer for and various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media & blogging. During his off time, Kevin enjoys traveling and cooking. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin & Google+.

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