Recent College Graduate Resume Examples & How to Write

Assembling the perfect job application as a recent graduate isn’t easy. It’s a tough job market in 2021 because of COVID-19, and there are likely to be lingering effects on the economy for years to come.

To help you build a competitive application, we provide a variety of resume and cover letter writing guides, examples, and templates for new college graduates. No matter how much work experience you have, there’s something here to help you improve your chances of landing work in 2021:

What should be on a recent college graduate resume?

Having an outstanding resume is essential for recent graduates entering the job market.

Your recent college graduate resume needs to:

  • communicate your strengths,
  • elevate your experience,
  • showcase your hard-earned education,
  • demonstrate the specific skills you have that are applicable to the position you want.

Here are the basic details you need to include on your new college graduate resume:

Accurate contact information

Your contact information and name should be the very first thing hiring managers see when they glance at your resume. To help your information stand out, put it in your resume header at the top of the page, and type your first and last name in a large font to make it memorable.

At a minimum, your resume should include your:

  • First and last name
  • Current job title (if you have one)
  • Professional email
  • Phone number

Given that we now send and receive resumes digitally, it is no longer necessary to include your address, but if you like you can include your city and state.

Additionally, if you have a strong Linkedin profile consider adding it to your resume header as well.

Before sending out your application, double-check that all your contact information is correct. No matter how strong of a candidate you are, it won’t matter if employers can’t reach you.

Here’s an example of how to list your contact information on your resume:

Example of contact info on a recent college graduate resume.

Convincing resume introduction

Knowing how to start a resume is a critical job-hunting skill. The goal of your resume is to catch the hiring manager’s attention and convince them to invite you for an interview. Your introduction can help you achieve this by quickly highlighting your most impressive accomplishments and skills.

There are five types of resume introductions.  Each has its own strengths and weaknesses:

  1. Resume objective
  2. Summary of qualifications
  3. Resume profile
  4. Resume summary
  5. Resume “About Me”

While all these introduction styles are good options, the resume objective is ideally suited for recent graduates. That’s because an objective allows you to highlight your career goals as well as your key skills and experience without relying heavily on formal work experience.

Here’s what a good resume objective looks like:

Example of a resume objective for a recent college graduate resume.

Detailed education history

Having a thorough education section is essential for any recent college graduate’s resume.

To make your education stand out, here’s what you should include in your education section:

  • The name of your university or community college
  • Location of the school (city, state)
  • Graduation date (month and year)
  • Degree(s) (including any minors)
  • GPA (only include your GPA if it’s above 3.5, and use this format: GPA: 3.7/4.0)
  • Awards or honors (such as summa cum laude on your resume)

Additionally, include a mention of the Dean’s list on your resume if you made the cut more than twice.

If you have little or no professional experience (like many recent graduates), include as much detail about your education as possible. In particular, you should list relevant coursework on your resume to show employers that you have an interest in and experience with the industry you’re interested in working in.

However, if you already have a lot of professional experience, it’s best to keep your education section short and omit any academic awards, as well as your GPA.

Here’s an example of how to list your education with a relevant coursework section:

Example of an education section on a recent college graduate resume.

Relevant experience section

Your experience section is the core of your resume. As a college graduate, this is where you elaborate on your past jobs relevant to the position you want to fill.

Additionally, your experience section is where you should highlight any important accomplishments on your resume.

If you have a short (or nonexistent) work history, you can change the name of this section from “Work Experience” to “Relevant Experience” to make it more general. Then, include any of the following experiences (as long as you can connect it to the position you’re applying for):

  • Full time or part-time jobs
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
  • Coursework (should be highly relevant)
  • Extracurriculars

Ultimately, the goal of your experience section is to show employers that you have valuable skills in addition to your degree.

Here’s how you can list relevant experience in your resume:

Example of a Relevant Experience section on a recent college graduate resume.

If you don’t have relevant experience like in this example, you can use the same format with relevant coursework. For example, you could list an honors thesis you wrote, and use 2-4 bullet points to describe the challenges you overcame, your research and writing process, and any acclaim you received for the thesis.

Diverse mix of skills

As a recent graduate, you don’t need formal work experience to have a strong resume skills section. Just through your coursework and extracurricular activities, you’ve likely accumulated an array of marketable skills like:

Hard Skills:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Google Drive Suite
  • Photoshop
  • Writing & Editing

Soft Skills:

  • Time Management
  • Collaboration
  • Research
  • Team Leadership

Start by listing any technical skills, and any hard or soft skills you possess that are relevant to the position. Soft skills in particular are valuable, as they are usable for nearly any job.

However, don’t only use your skills section to list skills. You’re missing out on a great opportunity to impress hiring managers if you don’t include them in your relevant experience section.

For example, take a look at the following job description, with some key skills underlined in blue:

Example of a job description for a recent college graduate to tailor their resume to.

Below is an example of a relevant experience section that targets these key skills, again underlined in blue, demonstrating competence in these areas. Underlined in orange are several additional skills that are highly relevant to working at WWF, a charitable organization that depends on public awareness and support to succeed:

Example of how to include skills from a job description in the relevant experience section of a college graduate resume.

Meanwhile, use your skills section to include your other relevant skills that don’t naturally fit into your relevant experience section:

Example of a skills section on a recent college graduate resume.

3 recent college graduate job application tips

Now that you know what to include on your resume, it’s time to learn how to write it effectively.

Here are three expert tips for assembling the perfect job application as a recent college graduate:

1. Highlight your experience as a student

As a new graduate, your college education is your biggest asset in entering the job market.

Employers understand that earning a degree requires a variety of marketable skills. However, it’s your responsibility to demonstrate what those skills are and why they’re valuable.

To do this, include a detailed education section. Mention your GPA on your resume (if it’s above 3.5), honors or awards, and your major/s and minor/s. Also, include any study abroad programs you completed as a separate entry in your education section

Additionally, you should highlight extracurriculars or relevant coursework on your resume as entries in your experience section. These experiences help fill in the gaps on your resume if you lack formal work experience, and demonstrate the valuable professional skills you’ve picked up through your academic career.

2. Emphasize your soft skills

Soft skills, such as communication, team management, or interpersonal skills, are always in high demand from employers. For many entry-level positions, hiring managers consider them to be even more valuable than hard skills, because soft skills are notoriously difficult to teach.

To strengthen your resume, list three or four soft skills in your resume skills section. Additionally, showcase them in your experience section by describing instances of how they helped you achieve success as a student.

For example, if you have outstanding leadership skills, include an example of how you took the lead on an important class project.

3. Write a convincing cover letter

Knowing how to write a strong cover letter to pair with your resume is essential for recent college graduates. Your cover letter sets you apart from other applicants by supplementing your resume experience section, and showing the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the position.

To maximize the impact of your cover letter, make sure it’s customized for the position. This is your opportunity to make a pitch for why you’re the best candidate for the job — the last thing you want is to look like every other applicant.

To help yourself stand out, start your cover letter off with a strong introduction. A good recent college graduate cover letter introduction should include:

  • enthusiasm for the company,
  • an overview of your background,
  • and a brief introduction to your accomplishments (either educational or professional).

Employers love sincerely enthusiastic candidates, so don’t be afraid to use your recent graduate cover letter to show your excitement for the position.

College graduate resume template

Here’s a recent college graduate resume template that you can paste into Microsoft Word or Google Docs and fill out. It includes an outline for each resume section you should include, and what information you should list to best emphasize your strengths.

1. Resume Heading


Email: youremail@gmail.com | Phone: 895 555 555 | Address: 4397 Aaron Smith Drive Harrisburg, PA 17101 | Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/yourprofile

2. Resume Introduction

Recent college graduate with a degree in [degree name]. Seeking to leverage my competence in [job-specific hard skills] to fill the [position name] position at [company name]. A [positive personality trait] worker aiming to contribute to [company name]’s goals and take on more responsibility as quickly as possible as the newest member of your team.

3. Education

Degree Name / Major

University, Location | Start Date – End Date

Relevant Coursework: You can list your relevant areas of study, either in paragraph or bullet format

Honors: If you graduated with honors (i.e. summa cum laude), list it here

4. Relevant Experience

Most Recent Job Title or Project Name

Employer or School Name / Location / Start Date – End Date

  • Include a bulleted list of your accomplishments (this can include coursework)
  • Make sure you quantify (add numbers to) these bullet points

Earlier Job Title or Project Name

Employer or School Name / Location / Start Date – End Date

  • List key accomplishments from an earlier position, internship, or project
  • Assuming you no longer actively perform this job or project, make sure you use past tense verbs to describe your experience

5. Skills

Highlight your relevant professional skills. If you don’t know what the hiring manager is looking for, try reading through the job requirements and pairing your own abilities with ones in the description.

6. Additional Resume Section

Here’s where you can add any other information relevant to your background.

This section could highlight publications, languages, volunteer experience, community service, professional associations you belong to, or any training or certifications.

College graduate resume examples

To help you construct the perfect new college graduate resume, here are two examples to take inspiration from.

Sample resume for recent college graduate (with no experience)

Here’s an example of a recent graduate’s resume with no work experience:

A college graduate resume sample with no experience

Sample resume for college graduate with no experience (text version)


Recent college graduate with a degree in Political Science. Designed and led a state-wide polling project in New York to gauge public opinion on tort reform. Seeking to leverage 3.8 GPA and data analysis expertise to obtain the political research assistant position at Win Blue.


Bachelor of Arts in Political Science / GPA: 3.8

New York University, New York City, Graduated 2020

Relevant Coursework: International Politics, Economics, Public Polling, Data Analysis, Electoral Process

Honors: magna cum laude



Senior Seminar, NYU  /  October 2019 – May 2020

  •   Developed a thesis proposal for a statewide public opinion poll on tort reform.
  •   Awarded a $1,000 grant to expand and execute my polling research.
  •   Formulated a series of 10 questions designed to reduce bias.
  •   Polled over 1,000 New York residents, reaching the threshold for statistical significance.
  •   Organized the resulting data and presented my findings to the NYU Political Science department.


Tom Suozzi for Congress, New York, NY  /  May 2018 – November 2018

  •   Made and distributed campaign materials to supporters.
  •   Helped lead get out the vote efforts in local neighborhoods, knocking on over 800 doors.
  •   Wrote scripts for other campaign volunteers to follow when phone banking.
  •   Excelled in a fast-paced, demanding environment.


Problem Solving, Adaptability, Collaboration, Time Management, Critical Thinking, Interpersonal Skills, Leadership


Native: English

Fluent: Spanish

Proficient: Farsi


Dean’s List

NYU / Last 3 Semesters

Tau Sigma Honors Society

NYU / 2019

Sample resume for recent college graduate (internship)

If written about clearly and effectively, internship experience can be a huge boost to any recent college graduate’s resume.

To help you write about your internship experience, here’s the previous sample, but with an internship section instead to help you model your own resume:

Sample resume for college graduate with internship experience

Sample resume for recent college graduate for internship (text version)


Recent Political Science graduate with 7 months experience conducting public polling research while interning at Top Seat Strategies. Seeking to leverage my data analysis expertise to obtain the political research assistant position at Win Blue.


Problem Solving, Collaboration, Adaptability, Critical Thinking, Strong Work Ethic, Leadership, Time Management, Leadership, Handling Pressure, Collaboration, Problem Solving



Top Seat Strategies, New York, NY  /  October 2019 – May 2020

  • Produced reports and crosstabs to present recommendations for company data acquisition.
  • Assisted senior staff to clean and upload approximately 10 new datasets a month.
  • Streamlined our data analysis process, reducing polling data processing time by 4%.
  • Used SQL to parse data and produce reports.
  • Guided clients towards strategic decisions using political knowledge and data-driven insights.


Tom Suozzi for Congress, New York, NY  /  May 2018 – November 2018

  • Made and distributed campaign materials to supporters.
  • Helped lead get out the vote efforts in local neighborhoods, knocking on over 800 doors.
  • Wrote scripts for other campaign volunteers to follow when phone banking.
  • Excelled in a fast-paced, demanding environment.


B.A. / Political Science

NYU, New York, NY, Graduated 2020

Honors: magna cum laude

Writing a great resume as a new college graduate is easier than you think

Writing your first resume fresh out of university is intimidating.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be. Employers know that a college education teaches a variety of marketable skills and expertise. Your resume is an opportunity to demonstrate those skills, and show employers what you have to offer.

To best emphasize your talents as a recent college graduate, your resume should:

  • showcase your educational background,
  • highlight your coursework (if you lack formal work experience),
  • and demonstrate your most relevant professional skills.

By shifting focus onto your strengths, you’ll catch the attention of hiring managers and prove that your education makes you an ideal candidate for the role you’re applying for.

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