Career Advice for Job Seekers

What recruiters look for in a college graduate’s resume

Shelby Konkel
Liz Hogan (Guest Author)
September 30, 2022

Graduating from college can be bittersweet.

On one hand, it feels great to say goodbye to the four walls of those lecture halls.

But on the other hand, you realize it’s time to start job hunting. And in today’s world, you probably know that recent grads have a hard time getting hired.

It’s daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are things you can do as a recent college graduate to give yourself the best chances of gainful employment.

One of these things is writing a solid resume. So, let’s dive into what recruiters are looking for in a college graduate’s resume.

1. Appropriate email address

Recent college graduates tend to forget that life after college is the real deal. So, they end up placing on their resume some funny or strange email address they created years ago.

The implication? Recruiters can think they’re not being professional, or perhaps even immature and not ready for the workforce.

If you really want to be taken seriously by a hiring manager, you’ll want to create a professional email address. The best option is an email address consisting of your first and last name, not nicknames or your favorite sports team.

A good example of a professional email address is

2. Professional summary

A resume summary contains one or two sentences that sum up what makes you the ideal candidate. If done right, your resume summary will gain you the recruiter’s attention and improve your chances of landing the job.

When writing a professional summary, avoid empty buzzwords like “ambitious” and “go-getter” as they don’t convey real value.

Also, avoid using “I” statements. I statements tend to make you the center of focus, rather than your skills, experience, and value. 

Instead of saying something like:

“I’ve just graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.” 

Use as professional statement such as:

“Equipped with a foundation of engineering and operational skill sets, as well as proficiency in improving processes, protocols, project execution, and efficiency.”

3. Extracurricular experience and leadership

As a college grad, it’s unlikely you spent those years in college just reading and writing. A recruiter would like to see what experience you have gained.

If you have acquired any volunteering, freelancing, or internship experience, add them to your resume.

Likewise, include any leadership roles you took on during the course of your studies. This may include spearheading a school campaign, being a member of the student council, managing a club, and more.

Highlight experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Use action words to describe your experience, and keep your statements short but impactful.

4. Relevant skills

Naturally, you won’t have as much work experience as someone who’s been around the career block a few times. 

No cause for alarm, though! Recruiters know you’re a recent graduate, and they’re often willing to give you a fighting chance.

When they check your resume, they’re going to focus more on your skills than your experience. So, your skills section must do a good job of selling you!

Properly highlight all relevant soft and hard skills. 

Your hard skills are job-specific skills you’ve gotten through education, technical learning, or hands-on experience. Examples include copywriting, data engineering, marketing campaign management, typography, patient care, and much more.

Your soft skills, on the other hand, are your interpersonal or social skills. Some examples are teamworking, problem-solving, interpersonal communication, and the like.

Make sure your resume only includes skills that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.

5. Competitive GPA

Your GPA is proof of your performance in school. It lets recruiters know how well you performed in your field, so it’s often a good idea to include it in your resume.

That said, your GPA can make or break your chances of getting hired. While a high GPA shows the recruiter that you have in-depth knowledge in your field, an average or low GPA does the opposite.

If you want to impress a recruiter with your GPA, it should be above average (3.5 and above).

Anything lower might do your chances more harm than good. It’s not compulsory to include a GPA, so if yours isn’t competitive enough, just leave it off.

While these 5 tips we shared above are the most important in crafting your resume, there are more ways to improve your resume as a college graduate.

— Liz Hogan is the Digital Partnerships Manager and a CPRW at Find My Profession. She regularly shares her advice on job search and resumes writing with others.

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