Post Grad Survival Guide — Change Your Resume and Land An Interview

Time for some practical career advice.

This past Sunday, my friend and I went to a bustling Barnes & Noble (it was so PACKED) to plan our upcoming trip to New York. This hang quickly turned into a free resume writing lesson. She had so many things wrong with her resume that we stopped our trip planning to completely rewrite it.

The following tips are most applicable if you graduated college within the last 3 years.

1. List your education first

At this stage in your professional career, your Bachelor’s/Master’s/Doctoral/What-have-you degree is likely your most important and relevant accomplishment.

  • DO NOT list your high school (or middle school or elementary school). A college degree implies the completion of high school; this redundancy isn’t necessary nor relevant.
  • DO NOT include your GPA unless it’s stellar, meaning higher than a 3.5. Even then, I don’t suggest you write it unless the position requires an undergrad GPA greater than “X” number.
  • List your education in reverse chronology. For example, if you have a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, and a Doctoral degree, list the Doctoral first, then your Master’s, then your Bachelor’s.

2. List your Experience second

If you think you don’t have any experience, you may be wrong. Here, you can list occupations you have had with no pay like Tutor, Research Assistant, Research Intern, Intern, Writer (for the school paper), Radio host (for the school’s radio station). Think of all the experiences you have to offer and list them, and if you don’t have any to list, apply anyway! Employers know that you are just starting out in your career.

  • DO NOT describe your experience in a personal way. This means don’t say things like, “I loved this job because I really grew as a person, not only professionally but personally as well.” This is not professional. Look at the description of the position you held or google the description (e.g. search ‘research assistant job description’) for ideas on what to write and how to write it.
  • DO NOT list your responsibilities as bullet points.

3. List “Outreach” or “Volunteer Experience” third

Employers love community outreach; volunteering serves to make you a more well-rounded person. List this the same way you would list a job.  If you don’t have anything to list here, get to volunteering! Go to an animal shelter or rescue mission to see what you can do for your community.

4. List Scholarships fourth 

List them in bullets, along with the years you had them. An explanation isn’t necessary. You don’t want your resume to become a drag to read. Here’s an example how what it should look like:

  • Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship (2012-2016)
  • First Generation Scholarship (2012-2016)

DO NOT list financial aid as a scholarship award.

5. List “Conference Presentations” or “Publications” fifth

Maybe you presented at an undergraduate research conference or you were included as a coauthor on a professor’s publication (if you worked in their lab or research center) or you wrote articles for your school paper/magazine. List these accomplishments.

6. Certifications

List only relevant certifications. If you earned a certificate in bartending, that’s something you would only list if you were going into Hospitality or the Food & Beverage Industry.

7. Extracurricular Activities

Were you a part of any club or organization at your university? List them in bullets along with the years you were active. For example:

  • Phi Alpha Delta (2014-2016)
  • Alternative Breaks (2012-2016)
  • Student Council  (2012-2013)

8. Languages 

You should only have this section if you speak more than one language. List the language along with your level of proficiency. It should look like this:

English (native), Spanish (native), German (Intermediate)

DO NOT list a language you can’t even speak a full sentence in. If you speak a language at an elementary level, you should probably leave it out.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 3.02.57 PM

If there are headings in this outline in which you don’t have anything to list or mention, like Conference Presentations or Certifications, DO NOT list the heading. Skip it and move on to the next heading.


Do you have any tips on resume writing? Leave them in the comments! It could help someone! Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “Post Grad Survival Guide — Change Your Resume and Land An Interview

  1. You’d only want to list your education first if it were more recent within the last 5 years. Otherwise, if you have a lot of work experience, which can be better than school education, list that first instead. It depends on the person’s​ situation.

    Liked by 2 people

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