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Frequently Asked Resume Questions:
A Resume FAQ for College Students and New Graduates
by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., and Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Please Note: This article supplements our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Resumes with some special questions and answers of interest to college students and new grads preparing resumes.
Here's how this College Student/New Grad Supplemental Resume FAQ is organized for navigation ease:
- What's tricky about the name of my degree?
- I feel funny listing my degree when I haven't graduated yet.
- Should I list my college minor?
- Should I list my college GPA?
- Should I list my college coursework?
- Should I really include class and team projects on my resume?
- Should I list my high school?
- What about listing community college?
- Should I list academic awards, honors, recognition under the Education section?
- What else should be listed under the Education section?
- Should I list the specific name of my Greek organization?
- Should I list sports on my resume?
What's tricky about the name of my degree?
Different schools and colleges have varying designations for degrees, so be sure of the exact name of the degree(s) you have earned.
For example, at the undergraduate level, you may be earning a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Education, or Bachelor of Business Administration (spell out the full name of your degree rather than using initials).
I feel funny listing my degree when I haven't graduated yet.
If you list your degree with your graduation date, and the date is in the future, the employer will understand that you don't yet have the degree. For example:
Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, May 2012.
However, you may feel more comfortable adding the word "expected" to the above:
Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, expected May 2012.
Should I list my college minor on my resume?
- Some experts say to only list minor if relevant, but others suggest always listing your minor on your resume.
- A computer-related minor is almost always relevant.
- Foreign-language minors can be very relevant, depending on the job.
- If you have not completed all the courses for a minor, you might consider stating you have an "emphasis."
Should I list my college GPA on my resume?
- List GPA only if 3.0 or higher.
- If your overall GPA is lower than 3.0, but your GPA in your major is 3.0 or above, you can isolate your major GPA.
- Grades aren't important to the majority of employers, but a few will not even review your resume if you do not list your GPA.
Should I list my college coursework on my resume?
- Probably not unless it contributes something different from what any other student in your major would offer an employer.
- You can also list coursework if you have very little else to include on your resume and need some padding.
- It is better to list major course projects you completed rather than names of the classes themselves.
- Similarly, don't list course numbers; they will mean nothing to readers outside your university.
Should I really include class and team projects on my resume?
Absolutely! You have probably participated in many projects during your college years that have real-world applications and that have helped you polish your transferable skills. If you have lots of relevant internship and job experience, you may have less need to detail class projects on your resume.
But if your experience is sparse, class projects are a perfectly legitimate way to beef up your resume. In one of our favorite examples of a student resume that makes the most of class projects, the student is quite upfront about the fact that these are class projects; yet she portrays them with the same weight and seriousness as she portrays her internship experience.
You could also consider detailing your class projects on a supplement to your resume.
Read our article, Emphasizing Your Classroom Transferable and Marketable Skills for more ideas on how skills honed in the classroom apply to the real world, and consider using our College Experience Worksheet for Resume Development.
Should I list my high school on my resume?
- Unless you are currently a high-school student or it is very early in your college career, omit high-school education from your resume.
- High school is expected on some international resumes.
- High school can be listed if, for example, you won a major award that shows early interest in your career field (or if you attended a prestigious prep school).
- Space issue: If you are trying to condense to one page, high school is something you can easily omit.
- If for some reason you decide to list high school, list your college education first!
What about listing community college?
- Only if it adds something and only if you earned a degree.
- Space issue: If you are trying to condense to one page, community college is something you can easily omit.
- These same rules apply if you attended more than one college; the only one that really matters is the one where you are receiving your terminal (bachelor's) degree.
Should I list academic awards, honors, recognition under the Education section?
- You can, but sometimes doing so pushes the important Experience section to a less prominent position on the resume, so use your judgment.
- If you have many, it may be better to list honors and awards in a later section toward the end of the resume -- or even create a supplement to your resume with all your honors.
- Items to include: Dean's List, Honor Roll, Awards, Scholarships. Try to briefly describe the criteria for scholarships as the reader won't often know what you did to earn a scholarship just based on its name.
What else should be listed under the Education section?
Include any special or private training, certification, seminars, and the like. You may also want to list study-abroad experiences.
Should I list the specific name of my Greek organization?
- Doing so is a calculated risk. Avoid information that could be used to screen you out. Employers may screen you out based on deep-seated rivalries or animosities toward your Greek organization or the Greek system in general.
- Better to list Greek organization generically, for example: Membership vice president for social fraternity.
Should I list sports on my resume?
Absolutely if you are a student-athlete. You can exploit many transferable skills (teamwork, leadership, competitive drive) with sports. Many on-campus recruiters specifically ask to interview athletes. Consider even listing sports in your Experience section.
Final Thoughts on New Grad ResumesRemember, for more general questions about resumes and resume-writing in general, check out our very comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Resumes.
Have questions about other aspects of job-hunting? Find our entire collection of answers to the most frequently asked questions in the Quintessential Careers Career, Job-Search, and Job-Hunting FAQs for Job-Seekers.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com.
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