From New Grad to Established Pro: How Your Resume Changes after Graduation

Your resume hits some major growth spurts during the transition from new grad to established professional. Here’s your primer on creating your new grad resume, then adapting your resume from grad to pro-level.

New Grad Resume

New grad resumes include lots of information you won’t generally see on professional resumes.

Virtually every resume should start with a Summary section. This is your chance to summarize your most compelling accomplishments and communicate your highest point of contribution.

For new grads, follow that Summary section with your Education section. Because your work history is limited, demonstrate your credentials by beefing up this section.

Consider including:

  • Your GPA if it’s strong (say, 3.5 or above).
  • Any scholarships, academic awards, or Dean’s List rankings.
  • Extracurricular activities, clubs, or sports.
  • Relevant coursework (major classes or classes relevant to your chosen field).
  • Research papers, capstone projects, or case studies.
  • Any leadership roles.

In the example above, our friend Gina Grad listed coursework, several class projects, academic honors, and student leadership activities.

Although new grads won’t have a ton of work history, beef up what you do have as much as possible. Establish a track record of professional employment, even if some of that employment is lower level. Go ahead and include summer jobs and your stints as a summer camp counselor or pizza delivery driver.

You don’t need to include much detail about each job. Just a couple bullet points. And wherever possible, describe those jobs in terms of leadership, responsibility, teamwork, problem-solving, and process improvement.

Gina created a dedicated section for her stronger internships, then created a separate section for her jobs as a server and valet. Even though these jobs aren’t related to her target of business management jobs, they extend her work history and add weight to her resume.

Position yourself as a go-getter with passion and commitment by including any volunteer experience. Even some volunteer time at the local soup kitchen is helpful here. Again, look for any opportunity to emphasize leadership and competence.

Gina included her membership in a sorority and her experience as a Girl Scout leader.

Professional Resume

Once you’ve landed your first post-grad job, several things about your resume should change. Now the difference-maker is your work experience, so elements you used on your new-grad resume will start to fall off the page, putting more focus on your professional accomplishments.

Here’s our friend Gina’s resume updated just a few months after graduation. Note what has been added and what has been removed.

First off, Gina’s Summary section is now much more focused on her career path. It begins by identifying her as an “Implementation Manager.” The Summary paragraph focuses on her work in that role.

Her Summary also includes a box of core competencies. This will help her resume score well on automated Applicant Tracking Systems that evaluate keywords.

Gina has wisely moved her Education section to the very bottom of the resume and has removed much of the extra detail. Over time, this will become limited to school and degree.

In the Professional Experience section, Gina has cut many of her pre-graduation jobs, keeping only those that are relevant and impressive. Within a few years, pre-graduation jobs should be all gone.

And of course, she’s added her new job and described it with as much detail as possible. Over time, she’ll add accomplishments and wins to this section, making it even stronger.

An effective resume is a living document. It should morph and adjust year by year as your career successes accumulate and your career trajectory shifts.

For expert guidance on tailoring your resume to your current career goals, reach out to the pros at Upword Resume.