High school and college students and recent graduates often find themselves challenged when composing their first resume, whether for employment, internship, academic, or program application purposes. However, the simple strategies outlined below can help you independently write your own winning resume with confidence and ease.

Despite similarities with regular resumes in format and structure—as well as with following the traditional rules for grammar, word usage, punctuation, and content presentation—student and recent graduate resumes are unique when it comes to choosing what background information to highlight and pertinent experience to include.

Typically, most students and recent graduates have more experience with academics, extracurricular activities, volunteerism, and seasonal or part-time employment than they do with full-time, paid job positions in their field of interest. The key is to highlight the accomplishments and transferrable skills you have earned in these areas, as this information will translate into your capabilities, aptitudes, and future pathways to success when your resume is reviewed by potential employers.

Simple strategies to follow for an effective student/ recent graduate resume

Order and Organization

  • Whereas a traditional resume would start with an employment section beneath the objective, summary, and aptitudes sections at the top, a student or recent graduate resume should have education towards the top.
  • A typical presentation of information on a student or recent graduate resume may progress like this from top to bottom: objective, summary, aptitudes, education, internships, employment, volunteerism, and memberships.

Information to Include

  • Focus on including content for areas such as education, volunteerism, extracurricular activities, internships, employment (part-time, seasonal, and full-time), and coursework.
  • Be sure to include achievements, accomplishments, honors, and leadership capacities in the above areas.
  • Include any special areas you have experience in, such as technology, foreign languages, public speaking, studying/ traveling abroad, and writing.

Aptitudes to Highlight

  • Highlight aptitudes such as leadership, innovation, vision, initiative, diligence, dedication, critical thinking, problem solving, and team collaboration. For potential employers, these will illustrate your potentiality for success based on your skillset and previous accomplishments.
  • Don’t just list these aptitudes; provide concrete examples and quantifiable results as support.

Additional Pointers

  • Be sure to tailor your content to align with the position you hope to secure. Pay attention to cultural fit, industry-related and position-specific key words, and the job posting to which you are applying.
  • As with any resume, be sure to follow the rules for grammar, usage, and punctuation. Choose strong, action verbs and precise word choices, and include plenty of key words specific to the field of interest and position at hand.
  • Use a simple, appropriately-sized font that is easy to read and leave plenty of white space on your resume. Avoid text boxes, section dividers, fancy fonts, and images, as these can spell trouble should your resume be computer scanned by an applicant tracking system (ATS).
  • Proofread your final copy several times with fresh eyes, then have a trusted person proofread it for you.

For more tips on general resume writing, visit some of our other blogs on the topic:

Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away! Call us today to schedule your free consultation and get your project underway. We are here to assist with any phase of the project.

In addition to resume services, we also do LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, post-interview thank you letters, and bios for students, recent graduates, professionals across all industries, and executives. Career coaching/ interview and resume writing services are also available as a package.

-by Christa Riddle


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