how to write a resume for a new graduate

College grads need to learn what employers want to see on your resume

It’s critical to starting your career out right by learning how to write a resume for a new graduate. Employers don’t care about the courses you’ve taken, or even, in most cases, your GPA. Employers don’t put much stock in a GPA because it isn’t a predictor of success in the workplace; all it demonstrates is that a student knows how to write papers and take tests. As Lazlo Bock at Google noted, “GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring…”

Do GPAs matter?

Not really. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, explains “What Straight-A Students Get Wrong” that grades don’t predict career success, so your GPA has little bearing in the hiring process. Grant cites research that shows “the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years.”

While there are some companies – largely consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey – who not only care about GPA, but actually use it as criteria for hiring, most companies just want to see that you earned a degree. It often doesn’t even matter much what you majored in. Therefore, I find that putting your GPA on your resume is like your mom putting your report card on the fridge. She’s proud of you, but that’s not an employer’s role.

But actually, a high GPA doesn’t matter, because what does it tell anyone, really?. That you’re smart, or creative, or anything other than someone who put the goal ahead of the play, or who took easy courses, or who studied 24/7 and as a result, has no social skills. In fact, Grant references a 1962 study of America’s most creative architects and learned that most of them had uneven grades in college. He reports that these students “paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating.”

I can truthfully state that among all the hundreds of individuals whom I hired, I never once asked for their GPA or paid attention if I saw it on the resume (other than being turned off by it being mentioned). And I don’t think I’m atypical among employers in wanting to know more about group projects, case studies, and internships a recent graduate took part in than their GPAs.

What makes new graduates’ resumes different from everyone else’s

When employers hire for senior level positions, they look for a coherent value proposition represented by the skills or experience that the candidate brings to the table. But when they hire new graduates for entry-level roles, they are looking for potential.

If you participated in internships that aligned with your intended career, that’s great. Internships demonstrate to employers that recent graduates have real world experience not only in their field, but in working collaboratively with others.  And arguably the greatest benefit of internships is future networking potential from the people that you meet.

But what you needed to earn money while earning your degree? What if you had to work at service level jobs instead of unpaid internships because it was the only way you could afford to study?

Here’s where I teach you how to write a resume for a new graduate!

You may not realize it, but the projects you worked on with your classmates belong on your resume because they provide employers insight into what you actually learned – insight that just listing the courses you took doesn’t provide. It also tells employers that you can cooperate to get done what needs to be done, which is avery important workplace skill. Write your resume with bullet points that detail your contributions on group projects, as well as the project outcomes.

The new graduates’ resumes I see go into detail about those service level jobs just to fill space. While employers are pleased to know that you worked while earning your degree because it shows you have grit and determination. But the details? Not important. If you’re going into finance, no one wants to read about how you made change at the drugstore register.

A not insignificant controversy associated with unpaid student internships is that mostly students of privilege can take advantage of what is increasingly a necessary prerequisite to getting hired. An article written by members of the Economic Policy Institute referenced studies that “revealed that half of all college graduate hires had previously interned at the firm where they were hired…and that 76 percent of firms reported relevant work experience as the primary factor that influences their hiring decisions.” Given this reality, lower income students may in fact be disadvantaged by the emphasis on internships. All the more reason for you to learn to write a resume for a new graduate.

To learn about my pricing and process, click here.

And to see samples of how I write resumes for new graduates, click here.

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