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Career News | Dec. 7, 2020

How do Students and Recent Graduates Craft Their Resumes?

By DCAA Staff Writer

One of the major pieces of advice for writing a federal resume is to be thorough and include details about your past experience. But how do you do that when you’re straight out of college, or even still in school?

DCAA does not expect you to apply for an entry-level position with a resume packed with professional experience. Learn how you can use the following experiences to demonstrate your abilities for the job.

Review the required qualifications in the Job Opportunity Announcement (JOA)

For each qualification, think about how specific experiences, courses, or projects (as well as work responsibilities) can demonstrate skills and experience that match the requirement.

Mine your educational experience to demonstrate your abilities.

As a student or recent graduate, your education is a significant part of your experience and qualifications—so don’t sell it short. Be sure to:

  • List your relevant degrees or all your accounting classes.
  • Call out additional coursework that is relevant to the position, such as classes in business or contract law, ethics, business writing, or business communication.
  • Include academic awards, merit-based scholarships, honorary society participation, and any certifications you earned or are pursuing.
  • Include either (or both of) your overall or major GPA if they are good.

Describe in detail how your experience relates to the requirements

Your resume does not need to stick to 1 or 2 pages. Demonstrate how your education, experience, and skills qualify you for the position. Examples might include: 

  • Part-time jobs and internships - in which you had responsibilities that are relevant to the job requirements, or demonstrated strong interpersonal or communication skills.Graduation cap with paper airplane
  • Leadership roles - in organizations that might demonstrate capabilities in researching and analyzing information, developing presentations, public speaking, drafting reports, or other relevant skills.
  • Team activities – such as working on an organizational committee or major group project that required collaboration, delegation, and reconciliation to deliver a coordinated final product or meet a common goal.
  • Volunteer work – helping a non-profit organization track, reconcile, and report on its fundraising is an example of an accounting-related responsibility. Answering phones and managing customer inquiries require communications skills, critical thinking, and the willingness to learn the intricacies of an organization to deliver good service. Tutoring students demonstrates planning, organization, and interpersonal strengths. All of these skills are relevant to many DCAA positions, including auditing.
  • Major academic, organizational, or even personal projects - that demonstrate the ability to plan, evaluate, and follow through on multi-faceted initiatives to produce quality results. This could range from coordination for a community clean-up to working with a team of classmates on a major research project—as long as it relates to the DCAA job. Think about how you allocated responsibilities, monitored progress, or divided and aggregated the final report, executive summary, or presentation.

Be selective when including extracurricular activities.

Sports and organizations that are purely recreational don’t carry as much weight as in private sector positions. But do include those that are relevant to the job or provide evidence of your skills/abilities, such as serving on key committees, holding officer positions, or participating in presentations or other relevant activities.

Read about how to craft your federal resume to learn more about showcasing your qualifications for a DCAA application.