Student and recent graduate resumes follow the same basic format as regular resumes (header, top summary, sections, and bullet lists of highlights under each category). The same as any resume, the purpose of a student or recent graduate resume is to present the applicant ahead of the competition as a dedicated, well-rounded, accomplished, innovative, and successful leader with the talents and experiences necessary to fulfill and even exceed the expectations of the position at hand.

Most students and recent graduates have developed their skills through off-the-job experiences, such as volunteer positions, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and internships. Therefore, the focus becomes showcasing what you have learned and how these experiences will translate into success in the professional arena. Although direct career experience is limited, it is still necessary to present specific results, outcomes, and accomplishments achieved, as well as contributions you have made as part of a team.

Whereas professional resumes may extend to more than one page, student and recent graduate resumes, for the most part, should be kept to one page, as the applicant has not yet accumulated many professional or career experiences. A cover letter should also accompany the resume.

Below are some pointers for what should be highlighted in a high school or college student’s or recent graduate’s resume.

Also, be sure to visit previous All About Writing blogs to learn more about resumes and cover letters, such as “Resume Tips: How to Successfully Present Your Resume,”  “Does My Resume Need a Cover Letter?,” and “Why Is It a Challenge to Write My Own Resume?

 What Should I Highlight in a Student or Recent Graduate Resume?

  • Volunteerism & Extra-Curricular Activities: These are areas that can showcase your leadership, teamwork, and accomplishments. Many organizations function the same as a business would, which means you have developed capabilities that will beneficially transfer over to a job. These areas also show initiative and the ability to multi-task; they present you as a well-rounded individual with interests and social concerns, which companies like to see.
  • Academic, Sports, Community & Field-Related Achievements: List any awards and honors you have earned. These paint a picture of a dedicated, hard-working achiever who excels over the competition.
  • Internships: No one expects a student or recent graduate to have much, if any, direct career experience. However, internships related to the career of your choice illustrate what you have learned in the field. This is a great opportunity to highlight projects you assisted with as part of a successful team, as well as what you have observed. Were you assigned duties beyond what is usually expected from interns due to your capabilities? Did you take on tasks that show initiative and leadership? What were the results and outcomes of projects with which you assisted?
  • Part-Time Jobs: Potential employers will appreciate the fact that you are a multi-tasker, capable of maintaining a job in addition to attending school. Again, as with internships, there may be transferrable skills you have learned and measurable ways you have contributed to the company through leadership, training, and teamwork. Promotions are also something to include.
  • Relevant Coursework: Be sure to include descriptions of courses and major projects related to the career you have chosen.

When writing your resume, be sure to maintain a professional and neutral image. Do not include anything that could be interpreted as controversial or risky. Include specific details, quantities, and percentages to clearly illustrate your achievements. Explain any awards, titles, or organizations that the average person may not be familiar with so they fully understand what you have done.

Finally, proofread your resume, then have someone else read it so you can fix any errors. It is a good idea to share it with a professor or professional who can offer constructive feedback. With fresh eyes, give it a final read-through at a later time. You only have one chance to make an impressive first impression!

Remember, All About Writing is here to help you create an effective student or recent college graduate resume and cover letter. We are also here to answer any questions you have about the resume writing process.

For students and recent graduates, All About Writing offers a discounted rate for our resume writing services, as we know funds can be limited.

Learn more about All About Writing and owner Christa Riddle at With All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away!

-by Christa Riddle

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