Tips For Graduating College Students

College graduation has recently come for many students and is still in anticipation of other seniors with graduation in the spring. This time of life can come with a mixture of emotions- excitement that college lectures are a thing of the past, worries for future plans, or fear of the unknown. I have asked trusted friends, family, and colleagues their best advice for graduating college students and have come up with this collective list of important things to remember during this big change in your life. 

  1. Stop stressing about a job. The most typical response by far was to stop stressing about jobs and career paths after graduation. There are a vast amount of options each major in school can lead you. Jobs will open up and work out, while others that seem perfect may slip through your fingertips. Important things to remember while job searching after graduation:
  2. The perfect job rarely exists. Which is okay because it leads to my next point.
  3. You most likely will not be in this job for a lifetime. Gone are the days where you choose a career path and stick with the same occupation until retirement. Typically, people spend 3-5 years in the same job before getting promoted or finding a new job. If you don’t find the perfect job, it’s okay because it will likely change. 
  4. Finding an entry-level job right after graduation doesn’t always happen, and that’s okay. Keep searching and putting in the effort, don’t let the pressure of a graduation date stress you out about a job. You’re young, take time to explore, travel, or even find experience in your field to land a great job later in life. 
  5. You can choose to be passionate about whatever job you end up in. Take it from my husband, who grew up on a farm surrounded by cows, horses, and corn. He graduated with a degree in Business Administration and landed his first job managing a warehouse in a rental company for wedding supplies. If a farm boy from Utah can have a full conversation about chivari chairs and 90” round ivory tablecloths one day and then be sad the next day when he says goodbye to the company while he changes his career back to his roots in an agriculture-based company, anyone can be passionate about anything. 
  6. The years went faster than you thought they would. College graduation is already here? How did four (or three, or five) years go by so fast? They really do happen in a blink of an eye. 

Studying a subject that brings excitement into your life at a university can be so rewarding. You’ve spent hours and days in classrooms, taking notes, studying flashcards, cramming for tests, and collaborating with peers. Finally, it’s your day to shine and be recognized by many for the accomplishment you’ve made. If I were to leave one last tip, it would be this: walk at your graduation ceremony. Take the day to wear the cap and gown, show off your school’s tassel, and pose for every picture your family and friends want to take. You just dedicated four years of your life to studying and passing classes, you deserve this day. Congratulations, graduate! 

10 Tips for Rockstar Resumes!

Much about 21st century job searching has changed, but resumes remain an important aspect.  Check out our tips for a strong resume, as well as suggestions for more modern approaches.


5 Tips for a Traditional Resume

#1: Be genuine!

Make every word count!  Avoid nonsense terms that don’t truly add meaning (Check out this article with the best and worst phrases that experts see on resumes!).  Employers can see through insincerity right away, and that’s NOT the kind of first impression you want to make!

#2: Be careful with your objective

Conflicting opinions (for and against) alert!  If you do include an objective, keep these two, closely-related pointers in mind:

  1. Tailor it to position for which you apply!  Just as each company, school, and organization varies in its priorities, so should your objective reflect how you can meet their unique needs.
  2. As Richard White points out in his article:  “…It is not about how you can benefit from the company, but how the company can benefit from you.” For this reason, your objective should not say what you hope to get out of working there!  We recommend starting with a brief description of yourself, followed by what you would truly contribute if hired by the company.  For example: Highly enthusiastic teacher with a passion for educational technology seeks to contribute to increased technology effectiveness in the classroom.
#3: Skip your address

Donna Svei shares the risk in her article, “The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Put Your Address on Your Resume.” She cautions that if you would need to commute, employers definitely take note of the your potential burn-out liability.  Instead, she recommends you put down your most recent employer’s city location.

#4: Quantify and Qualify with power verbs & nouns

Strunk and White’s tip to “write with nouns and verbs” in their book, Elements of Style, is true in resume writing, too!  Beginning each accomplishment with a power verb & using specific nouns can help focus your description (ie, instead of “Helped with training new teachers,” try “Mentored 3 first-year teachers through peer observations, coaching, and co-teaching.”).  However, be conscious of tip #1 as you do so–make sure these are honest and objective descriptors!  This word cloud of power verbs gives you a visual of the most commonly recommended power verbs we compiled from the sources listed below.

Power Verbs Word Cloud

#5: Create a proper balance between white space & text

Be sure to utilize indentations to make your resume easy to scan through!


5 Tips for 21st Century Resume Writing

#1: Recognize the need for a traditional paper resume

Many companies now have online systems in place for applicants to type in all the information from their resumes.  However, it’s still valuable to have on hand a paper copy for interviews, job fairs, and other instances of personal contact.

#2: Have your resume ready for digital sharing

We’ve seen other companies that simply ask you to enter a link to your resume.  Make sure you have a shareable version ready to go, such as a PDF downloaded in Google Drive!

#3: Consider a visual resume

The changes in a visual resume may be as subtle as adding blocks of color to organize your presentation, or it may be as dramatic as adding charts.  This can be an eye-catching and efficient approach to your resume-writing.  However, be sure to check out this article for some disadvantages to consider, too, such as the incompatibility with ATS (automatic tracking systems).

#4: Consider a creative resume

Emilie Ogez
Emilie Ogez

A creative tier above visual resumes is the infographic route!  This is a more obvious choice for those in creative fields, such as designers, but it could also be an opportunity to stand out if you’re willing to take the risk!  See some examples of Infographics resumes on Pinterest, and and excellent list on Cornerstone University’s blog.

#5: Consider your audience!

Evaluate the company’s characteristics.  Is it a more established, traditional organization, or does it have more of an entrepreneurial history?  Chances are that if it’s the former, you’ll want to stick with more traditional resumes and objectives.  If it’s the latter, employers may appreciate your gutsiness in trying out bolder strategies.

Photo Credit: