How to Write a Winning Resume for College Grads

by Sara Rajan
Because many résumés may contain the same educational experience as you, it is important to set yourself apart from other applicants.

First impressions are lasting, especially when you are a college graduate trying to impress a potential employer. Recruiters review hundreds of résumés from applicants who may have the same educational experience as you, so it is important to set yourself apart from those other applicants. There a several things college graduates can do to write a résumé that wins the attention of a recruiter and possibly lands them a job.

Relevant Experience

List experiences that are relevant to the job you are applying for, such as college education, prior job experience, volunteer work and internships. For example, if you are graduating with a bachelor's degree in nursing and are applying for a nursing position at a hospital, avoid listing jobs or accomplishments that do not relate to your career goals. Instead, focus only on experiences you have had in the field of medicine, such as internships in the pediatric ward or surgery.


If you want to set your résumé apart from other applicants in the pool, list any outstanding awards you have received in college or in the profession to which you are applying. These awards may include scholarships, perfect attendance awards, Phi Beta Kappa or Phi Kappa Phi and professional commendations. Be sure, however, that you are specific when showcasing your achievements. For example, avoid being vague. Instead of writing weak statements like, "Awarded academic scholarships in college," write "Twice awarded the Presidential Scholarship for Academic Excellence, 2010-2012."


Even if your résumé showcases your impressive PhD in engineering or your outstanding internship at a top law firm, careless grammar mistakes may immediately send your résumé straight to the trash. According to an article from "The Chronicle of Higher Education," "Misspellings signal laziness, inattention to detail, and just the overall sense that you aren't taking this seriously." Once you have completed your résumé, take an extra five minutes to proofread your work. One silly spelling mistake may cost you a job.


According to a study conducted by the online job-matching service TheLadders, recruiters spend only six seconds reviewing individual résumés. With only six seconds to impress a potential employer, make sure you keep your résumé as concise as possible. Avoid writing lengthy explanations that could be saved for your cover letter. Because 80 percent of recruiters spent most of their time reviewing and basing their decision on the name of the applicant, education, current title/company, previous title/company and start and end dates of positions, be sure to keep these elements at the top of your résumé. Along with your educational experience, include relevant achievements, such as earning a high GPA in your major. It is important to impress the recruiter in those first seconds.

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