So you have worked extremely hard at university for the past few years and you’re now looking to enter full-time employment for the first time.
This can be a tricky process to land your ‘dream job’ that will launch your career, however there are some specific things that you can do to help you stand out from the crowd.
If you want to know how to write a graduate resume, then you’re in the right place! The below guide to writing a graduate resume will help you have an up-to-date, professional resume that will impress the eye of the hiring company.
As a graduate, it can be hard to think of what would be relevant to put into a resume. Without any prior work experience, what do you do?
It’s simple really. Let’s get into it!
Before going any further, I highly encourage you to grab our sample resumes that you can download for free in our Career Launch Toolkit. These will help you with the structure you need for moving forward with the below.
The Career Launch Toolkit also provides you with the templates necessary to complete the below guide.
Firstly, a well-written resume should summarise your qualifications, skills and qualities and help you get a job interview.
I would also encourage you to tailor your resume to the job you are applying for.
1. Getting Started – The Brain Dump
The first thing you will need to do is gather all the necessary information to help you complete your resume. This is what I like to call ‘the brain dump’.
The brain dump is simply getting everything you need down onto paper (or into your word document). After you do this, we will then move into structure and formatting.
Using the below as a guide, complete the fields to help you get all the information you need down onto the one page.
- First and last names
- Current address
- Home and mobile phone numbers (it’s a good idea to have business-like message recordings)
- Email address (keep your email professional (eg that is NOT ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’)
- Citizen or redisdency status (if requested)
There’s no need to include other personal information such as date of birth or religion.
This section is optional and should be a short, targeted statement that is specific to the job.
A career objective is a statement at the top of the resume that can quickly get the readers attention. It’s important to quickly state your career objective and any skills or qualities that set you apart.
- Degree or qualification
- University or educational institute
- Dates (eg 2011 – current)
- Subjects that are relevant to the job (use no more than 3)
- Achievements and awards
- Job title
- Business name
- Period of work (eg March 2012 – July 2013)
- Key responsibilities (in a dot point list)
Resumes are normally chronological meaning your most recent employment is at the top. However, if you had a job previously that is more aligned to what you’re applying for then you can include this first. Keep your jobs listed to those that are relevant and within the past 5 years.
Voluntary or Community Work:
- Period of work
- Key responsibilities
The purpose of this section is to reinforce and demonstrate your initiative, leadership, interpersonal or other skills. Examples could include participation in community work, clubs, sport associations or youth groups.
Skills & Qualities:
Your resume should include the skills and qualities you possess that are relevant for the job. These are generally bucketed under two categories –
- technical skills
- general or transferable skills (eg teamwork, leadership, problem-solving)
It’s a good idea to provide an short example of each.
Professional Development & Further Training:
If you have other qualifications you can list them here.
- Training provider
- Completion date or period of training
If you have any personal achievements that might be relevant you can share them here.
- Awards and prizes
If you are a member of any professional memberships you can list them here.
- Title or membership type
- Association name
- Period of membership
Interests & Hobbies:
This section can provide the employer with a quick snapshot as to who you are as a person outside the employment or academic world. Keep this to short bullet points.
Normally referees are not listed on initial application. Instead, simply put ‘ Available on request’. If you are successful in making it through to the final stages of the application process, this is normally when you will be asked to provide references.
In any case, we’re doing a braing dump. So you can list your referees down using the following format:
- Job title
- Phone number
- Email address
2. Structure and Formatting
Now that you have completed your brain dump and have everything on a single document, it’s time to get things into the right order, structure your resume appropriately and ensure it is formatted correctly.
The good thing is, I’ve made it easy for you. The brain dump exercise you just completed was already in the right structure!
You will, however need to tailor your resume to look unique and profressional.
There are a few different ways you can structure your resume. The sample resumes in our Career Launch Toolkit give you a great understanding of what these can look like.
Pick one of the sample resumes in the Career Launch Toolkit and use this as your template.
Simply replace the information with your own personal information from your brain dump exercise.
Rules regarding formatting
There are some simple rules to follow when it comes to formatting your resume.
You want to make your resume look as attractive and easy to read as possible. To help you do this, use the below as a guide:
- Use 10-12 point standard fonts (eg Times New Roman, Arial).
- Write in plain business English (avoid SMS language, abbreviations, jargon and slang).
- Use sub-headings and bulleted lists to draw attention to important information.
- Ensure plenty of white space between paragraphs and margins that are not too narrow.
- Write in the third person, don’t use I, me or my.
- The layout (including indent alignments) must be consistent throughout the resume.
- 2 – 3 pages for a graduate with little professional work experience.
- 3 – 4 pages for a graduate with a considerable work history.
I wouldn’t go any longer than 4 pages. The key is to be as short, sharp and succinct as possible to really wow your potential employer.
The sample templates in the Career Launch Toolkit provide a great starting point. I would however, encourage you to tweak and change the resume structure and formatting to ensure it is personalised for you.
3. The Most Important Part
Congratulations! You would now have a complete resume ready for you to start applying for graduate jobs.
There is just one thing you must do before you start submitting your applications and that is to use a spelling and grammar check!
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen graduate resumes that have spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in them. This is an instant no-go from an employers perspective, showing a lack of professionalism and attention to detail.
If English is not your first language, I would also encourage you to get a proof reader with strong English skills to check over your resume.
Lastly, after you submit an application, be sure to get feedback from the recruiter as to why you were successful or unsuccessful.
Have you checked out our uide on How to Write a Graduate Cover Letter? Be sure to check it out.
If you have already got your cover letter in hand and are part-way through the process, be sure to check out our Interview Preparation Guide for Graduates!
If you ever have any questions, be sure to drop us a note!