How to Get Your New Grad Resume to a Full Page

No one wants to submit a resume that's so brief you might as well just tweet it to recruiters. But if you're just starting out in the working world, chances are, you're really battling to fill up all the white space on the screen in front of you.

When you have little to say, how do you beef up your new grad resume so it looks less insubstantial? How do you get it to the recommended one page? What you shouldn't do is harp on about high school or list every class you took in college. Instead, first make sure you've included all the right sections by using one of the many great resume templates out there, and then follow these key resume-augmenting tips.

Start with a strong resume summary, not a one-line objective

A common mistake that many new grads make is starting a resume with a traditional objective statement. The objective is, for the most part, considered obsolete, and it's also usually just one skimpy line. You can add much more weight (and text) to the opening of your resume by kicking it off with a summary statement that outlines your strengths and interests and captures what you could offer employers. Your professional summary should still be concise (around four lines), but it will certainly help with your resume-lengthening efforts.


Broaden your definition of "relevant professional experience"

You might assume that you have nothing but a short internship to note in your work history section, but chances are, you're wrong. Ever worked a part-time or summer job to earn some extra cash? Did you tutor younger students at university? Complete a practical project with real- world applications in college? While such experiences might not relate directly to the field of your interest, they probably still equipped you with a number of transferable skills that will help you thrive in the workplace. That makes them well worth including in your new grad resume.

List these experiences like you would other jobs (label them as part-time or summer gigs next to the title), and under each entry, carefully frame what you gained from the role in terms that will appeal to employers. If you're finding it difficult to think of instances to include, Forbes recommends those just out of college try a "brain dump" -- put anything that comes to mind onto paper and then try to make links between these experiences and the positions you're pursuing.

Add a volunteer work section

Don't leave off volunteer work you've engaged in just because it doesn't qualify as 'work experience' in your mind. If you've donated your time to a cause, it shows that you're proactive, self-motivated, community-minded and skilled at teamwork. It also says a lot about who you are as a person. Adding a separate volunteer experience section is, therefore, a good way to build your case for employment -- research from LinkedIn shows it can actually advance your career prospects quite significantly -- while also adding substance and length to an otherwise thin resume.

Include details about your accomplishments

Once you've listed your part-time and volunteer work experience, augment these additions by detailing not just what you did in each role, but what you achieved. You can fill up white space with very valuable content if you take the time to expand on how you applied your abilities in various contexts to realize specific results, using numbers where possible. By doing so you can turn a banal inclusion (waitressing, for instance) into a strong case for your communication, time management, numeracy and customer service skills.

Speaking of accomplishments, if you published journal articles during college, or received pertinent academic awards, don't forget to include these in your education section, too. That's one way to get a few lines closer to a full page.

Categorize and expand on your skills

A skills section that's just a bulleted list of two- or three-word phrases is a missed opportunity. Make it easier for recruiters to digest this information by organizing it into categories -- you could have a subsection for "technical skills" and another for "project management skills," for instance. Then, below each subentry, provide evidence for your competencies by expanding on when and how you've used them in the past. You can also easily bolster the content of your new grad resume by including a section for soft skills -- personal attributes like your ability to problem-solve or communicate effectively. Many post-college applicants fail to include their less tangible competencies, but employers actually highly value them.

Detail your involvement in extracurricular activities (where relevant)

You may have been told not to include your interests, hobbies or extracurricular experiences in your resume, but it can be worth doing if you participated in activities that (a) align with your target career, (b) serve as proof that you possess certain skills or (c) show you're a good cultural fit for a company. If, for example, you were the VP of a student organization, that says a lot about your leadership skills. If you're a member of a professional association, that shows commitment and field-specific expertise. You could even consider noting such experiences and activities under separate headings like "professional organizations" or "memberships."

Like all the tips above, this is just another way to lengthen your post-college resume with material that also sells you as a top candidate. 

If you'd like additional guidance on all things resume, let LiveCareer help. Use our Resume Formats page for guidance on how to format yours, or put our Resume Builder to work, and get top-to-bottom writing assistance with the construction of your resume.