Between studying for final exams and ordering a cap and gown, impending college graduation is a hectic time. But wrapping up your last year isn’t your only responsibility. There will be a lot of professional competition post-commencement, so it’s a good idea to ease into the job hunt before you walk the stage.
First things first: your resume.
Drafting a resume involves a lot of decisions. Which format is the best? How do you choose professional references? What skills should you include? And, as a soon-to-be grad, there’s likely one big uncertainty at the forefront of your mind: Is it a good idea to add your expected graduation date to a resume?
The short answer is yes. Your anticipated date of graduation is essential information for potential employers. After all, they need to know when they can expect you to start. So, grab your laptop, pull up a Word document, and get drafting — let’s explore where and how to add this information to your resume.
Why you should put an expected graduation date on your resume
Just 27% of students graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2021 opted not to jump straight into a career. And each year, the number of college graduates continues to increase. Come May 1, the job market is flooded with recent graduates looking to launch their careers.
If you plan to work immediately after completing your college program, starting your job hunt before convocation is a wise way to get ahead of the pack. It’s not unusual to line up a role in advance — many employers are happy to hire upcoming graduates to start after the school year ends. But to launch a strong professional relationship, your resume must reflect your current status as a student.
Putting your expected graduation date on a resume is acceptable and encouraged, especially when applying for entry-level jobs. For an employer, the addition:
- Contextualizes your resume and communicates that your skills and professional experience should be appraised as that of a student. For example, a hiring manager will understand why you’ve only held summer jobs when they see you’re still completing a degree.
- Manages expectations and clarifies your start date. If a hiring manager wants you to begin prior to graduation, they’ll know they need to accommodate your full-time school schedule with part-time hours.
- Demonstrates strong organizational skills and an eagerness to work for their company. A recruiter might look at the expected graduation date and infer you’re planning ahead and passionate about landing the role.
How to include an expected graduation date on your resume
As a student enrolled in a college program, you should add your expected graduation to the “Education” section of your resume next to your degree program. The entry should include:
- Degree or diploma program: Include the degree level and the program’s official title.
- Institution and location: Add your school’s name, the campus you attend, and its location (city and state).
- Expected graduation date: List the month and year you anticipate graduating.
To help your job application stand out, you can also add:
- Your Grade Point Average: Share your current GPA if you’ve earned a 3.0 or above.
- Academic Awards: Are you an Honor Roll or Dean’s List student? Did you graduate with HND? Include these honors and awards here.
- Scholarships: Include any academic or achievement-based scholarships you’ve received.
- Relevant coursework: If a course is particularly relevant to the job, feel free to include it on your resume.
When formatting your resume, place information about your education above the “Experience” section. Once you have 2–3 years of work experience under your belt, it’s appropriate to swap these positions.,
If you’re on break
If you’re taking a gap year or are on a break but anticipate returning to school, you can include your anticipated graduation date when searching for jobs between college semesters or time off. You’re still considered a college student, so the addition is appropriate.
If you’re not completing your degree
If you’ve decided to change course and not complete your degree, you can still add your college experience to your resume, provided it relates to the job description. Include completed courses, relevant extracurriculars, and the number of credit hours you obtained.
8 tips for adding graduation information to your resume
As a soon-to-be grad, a snappy “Education” section can help you stand out from your peers and impress a potential employer. Here’s how to polish your resume for peak impact:
1. Make sure the information is complete
Double-check that you’ve included all the relevant information and context for your degree. It’s a common mistake, but don’t forget to include the year of graduation — simply noting the month could lead to confusion.
2. Emphasize your degree
When a hiring manager is doing a quick scan of your resume, your degree is far more relevant than when you graduate. Don’t distract from your educational background by prioritizing your graduation date in the formatting. Instead, lead with your college program and degree level.
3. Format chronologically
If you’re in graduate school, format the “Education” section in reverse-chronological order, beginning with your current program. List your completed degrees below.
If you’re working on your first degree, you may include your high school education with the year you graduated. Once you’ve obtained a post-secondary degree, this addition can be omitted.
4. Focus on formatting
Maintain consistency when formatting dates and degrees. If you refer to your diploma as a B.A., make sure every mention is in that style. The same goes for dates; if you write out the complete date as “March 16, 2022,” continue to use that format in every section, including “Professional Experience.”
5. Use subsections
If the “Education” section of your resume becomes crowded, consider adding subsections for your awards and other certifications. It makes it easier for a recruiter or hiring manager to quickly scan the text and pull all relevant information at a glance.
6. Include accurate dates
Avoid confusion by using the actual date of your graduation ceremony. You have yet to graduate on the day of your last class or final exam, so using this timeframe on your resume might be considered misleading. Instead, address your work availability in your cover letter and confirm with the recruiter or hiring manager prior to your commencement.
If you aren’t sure when your graduation ceremony will be held, use the month you complete coursework.
7. Be honest
Don’t feel you need to embellish your resume with a high GPA. Choosing not to include it with your educational information isn’t detrimental. A standard background check won’t provide a potential employer with this information, but should the job require transcripts or other documented proof of your education, and you’ve misled them, the organization will find out.
If your GPA or degree information is inaccurate, the company will likely disqualify you as a candidate. If you receive an offer, it could be rescinded based on a lack of professionalism. And if you’re employed, you could lose your job.
Before you send off your resume, review for potential errors by reading the text out loud and sending it through a spell and grammar check. Research shows 77% of hiring managers will disqualify you if they find a mistake, so take your time and be sure your resume is error-free.
6 resume examples for expected graduation dates
Writing your expected graduation date on a resume is pretty straightforward. Just be sure you’ve included all the pertinent information and that the text is clear and easy to read. Here are six templates to choose from:
1. Simplified format
Bachelor of Science — Biological & Biomedical Sciences
Zenith University College, Accra
Expected Graduation: 07/2024
2. Including GPA
B.A. — Journalism
University of Legon at Accra
Graduation expected May 2025
3. With honors
Bachelor of Commerce — Apparel and Merchandising
March 2025 (Expected)
Dean’s List: 2022, 2023
4. Including coursework
Bachelor of Arts — Developmental Psychology
Cape Coast University
EXPECTED GRADUATION: April 2024
COURSES: Social and Personality Development, Early Childhood Education, Language Development and Communication, Trauma-Informed Care Practices in Early Childhood
5. Multiple and advanced degrees
Master’s Degree: Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
Bachelor’s Degree: Marine & Aquatic Biology
6. Incomplete degree, including courses
B.S. in Intelligence Analysis
Sept. 2021 to Dec. 2022
Relevant courses: Introduction to Programming and Data Science, Data Mining, Modeling and Knowledge, Technology Applications in a Networked World
When should you leave your expected graduation date out?
There are circumstances when you should leave your graduation date off your resume. Not including it shouldn’t affect your ability to get a job, especially if you put the focus on your accomplishments. Here are a few examples:
- You haven’t started yet: If you aren’t enrolled in college or have yet to begin your program, leave the degree out entirely. If you think mentioning that you’ve been accepted into a particular program adds value to your application, you can say so in your cover letter.
- It isn’t relevant to the job: If an incomplete degree doesn’t relate to the job you’re applying for, there’s no reason to mention it.
- It doesn’t reflect well: If you had to leave college for reasons that may rub a potential employer the wrong way, such as expulsion, you should leave it off your resume.
On to the next chapter
Completing your degree is a milestone worth celebrating, and adding the expected graduation date to your resume is a great way to motivate yourself through the final push.
But don’t stress too much about your resume. Starting your job search early can help you get a leg up on the competition, but it shouldn’t distract you from school. Give yourself a break by using a resume builder or writing template to get the job done with minimal stress.
Good luck studying. Your future awaits.
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