Top 10 Things Employers Look for on a College Grad’s Resume

October 14, 2019

Top 10 Things Employers Look for on a College Grad’s Resume

Now that you have a college degree checked off your list and hung in your parent’s living room, it’s time to get out of the dorms and into a great job – and that whole process starts with a killer resume.

Need a little help polishing it up? We’ve got the top 10 things employers look for on a college grad’s resume plus some excellent tips from blogger Amanda Augustine’s “14 Reasons This is a Perfect Recent College Grad Resume.”

1. Make your professional summary shine

Use this introductory paragraph in your resume to get the prospective employer’s attention right from the get-go.

Who are you? Why are you right for an employer? What makes you better than the many other hungry candidates out there?

Your professional summary should include your recent graduation (and from where) as well as a very brief synopsis of your relevant experience and the opportunities that you are seeking. This doesn’t need to be filled with fluff and superlatives (save that for your Tinder profile!); keep it as factual and concise as possible, simply introducing yourself as the strong candidate you are.  

2. Spotlight your college accomplishments

In addition to your degree, highlight your GPA at the top of your resume, especially if you earned a 3.0 or higher or received academic honors.

The education section is also a good area to briefly mention team and/or leadership positions like sports team or student organizations that you were a part of. That said, this section should be short and to-the-point; skip over the high school mentions and do not include a laundry list of course work!

If you have many notable “Honors and Leadership” activities or memberships (i.e. professional business fraternity), you may consider adding a separate resume section to make these achievements stand out.

3. Relevant experience is everything

If this is your first job, you may not have any previous professional experience, so it’s all about making your relevant experience work harder.

Remember, experience is experience and it is not limited to the confines of a “real job.” Internship and volunteer experience are valuable, too, especially if you connect the dots for employers about how exactly your skills translate to the professional world.

If you don’t have any directly relevant experience, focus on key skills you’ve learned that could help you in a future job – things like:

  • Ability to work collaboratively        
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Strong work ethic

Also remember to include quick descriptions about the companies you’ve worked for to provide context about the industries you have experience with. You should also try to use as many action verbs in this category as possible to make your resume sound stronger. If your experience section is still pretty bare, consider volunteering in the community to help beef up your resume and make industry connections. Organizations like Volunteer Maine, Portland Greendrinks, the Maine Volunteer Foundation, and Hour Exchange Portland are great for discovering new opportunities.

4. The small details matter

Don’t let your resume stand out for the wrong reasons. Proof it once, twice – third time’s the charm. Make sure you get at least one other set of eyes on it as well, sometimes it can be hard to catch your own mistakes.

Also be sure to use a professional email address on your resume and professional correspondence (i.e. use your name in the address, and retire the TooCoolForSchool@hotmail.com account). It’s probably not a great idea to use your college email address since it might expire soon.

5. Use the right keywords

Take a deep dive into your industry and learn what types of skills employers are looking for. If you have capabilities or experience that fit those keywords, use them! Oftentimes resumes are scanned by computers for specific keywords before they ever make it into the hands of a hiring manager – so make sure you’re using the right terms to describe your experience.

6. Include relevant technical skills

While being a little “green” can sometimes be a challenge in the working world – it’s also an asset. You likely have some valuable technology skills that employers are looking for, as well as potential insight into how young people think that can help companies innovate and stay cutting edge. Be sure to briefly highlight these skills on your resume.

7. Concisely include any additional experience

Did you work as a babysitter, bartender or other part time job during high school or college? It probably doesn’t warrant a bullet in your main experience section, but sometimes it makes sense to highlight this work in the “additional experience” category, particularly if you can highlight some of the skills you learned in that line of work that are applicable to employers – things like task prioritization, teamwork, and problem solving, among others.

8. Don’t forget your cover letter

A good cover letter starts with a careful look at your finished resume. If you had to pick the five most important things on it, what would they be? That is exactly what should be featured in your cover letter. A cover letter is also a great place to talk about a time when you used problem-solving skills effectively, had a major achievement at a previous job, or to showcase your writing skills or link to an online portfolio of work. Since your cover letter is your first impression, you’ve got to make it shine. If you can’t catch an employer’s attention here, they may never even open your resume.

9. Consider a temp position to get your foot in the door

If you’ve never considered a temp position straight out of school, it’s actually the perfect way to build out your resume. In addition to getting your foot in the door at top Maine employers, temp position also help to give you professional and marketable experience to add to your resume – all while helping you explore different careers and define (or re-define) your interests. Plus, it’s pretty nice to start getting paid right away and put a dent in those student loans.  

It’s also a great way to test the waters with a specific company. The American Staffing Association found that about 35% of all temporary job placements end up being an offer for a full-time position – so for many college grads, temporary employment is more like an extended (paid) interview for a permanent position.

Last but not least, temporary positions also give you a massive head start on building your own professional network and securing valuable references you can call on down the road!

10. Contact ProSearch today!

Oftentimes online job boards can be a dead end for new college grads. It’s just too hard to stand out. Not to mention many of Maine’s top employers don’t have time for job boards either. Instead, they turn to temporary staffing agencies to help fill key positions quickly.

Being part of the ProSearch Network gives you exclusive VIP access to these opportunities, and an expert recruiter to help find the best fit for you – and your new employer.

Joining the ProSearch Network is free and easy to do with zero risk to you. Now that your resume is all polished up, send it to ProSearch through our website. We’ll take it from there. If you seem like a good fit, you’ll have a brief phone call with one of our recruiters to find out more about your goals, industries and companies of interest, and we’ll get to work finding you the perfect match amongst southern Maine’s top employers.

As another perk, skilled ProSearch recruiters have deep insight and great connections with these southern Maine employers, often knowing what is coming down the pipeline before the hiring manager even makes a formal request. If you’re connected to the ProSearch Network, you’ll gain the best and fastest access to local jobs – the smartest way to secure employment in southern Maine’s crowded marketplace.

Send your resume to ProSearch right now!

At ProSearch, we believe that people’s time and careers are important, and we pride ourselves on helping our candidates and clients find the right fit in an open and honest way. While these jobs may be temporary, they far exceed short-term transactions, and we are fully engaged in helping all of our candidates find the very best solutions for their next employment step.

If you are ready to take this first step and have ProSearch’s talented recruiters behind you, visit our website with your resume or give us a call at (207) 775-7600 for immediate VIP access to the best network of job opportunities from southern Maine’s top employers, and have that new resume ready.

Your first step into the professional world is a big one; it’s your chance to learn more about what’s right for you. If you are ready to start exploring, join the ProSearch Network today. Let’s get to work!