A stand out resume is key to landing your dream job, but as a college student, you may not have much work history. But there are plenty of impressive accomplishments you can highlight. These are our 10 tips for writing a great college student resume.
What Employers Really Want
Employers aren’t interested in your GPA or a long list of your barista duties. Every company has its own way of doing things. They teach you how to do things “their” way which will be different than the way you learned to do them in school or at a previous job.
So when a hiring manager looks at your college student resume, they know you don’t have a lot or any job experience. They know that you will be trained to learn how to carry out your job duties according to how the company does them.
What they want to see is evidence that you have leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills. They are looking for candidates who can work well with a team and eventually lead a team. Don’t just write what you have done, tell the reader how you did it and show them how these things will help the company.
You don’t have to have years of job experience to exhibit these skills. That means there is much more in your college student resume to include than you initially thought. How you communicate that information to potential employers is what we’re going to show you.
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1. Summarize Your Skills and Objectives
List all of your skills including computer skills and any skills you learned in college, working, volunteering or interning. You won’t use all of them on your resume but list everything you can think of in the beginning and you can whittle them down later.
Now look at the list and find things that are the most relevant to the job you are applying for. Applicant resumes that focus on specific job requirements are the most likely to get an interview. This is a valuable opportunity for you to see your future in a particular career and to understand what skills that career requires.
Your objectives should state some past accomplishments and the accomplishments you want to achieve for the job you are applying for. Objectives can show employers that you know what you want for your future and are familiar with their company and industry.
2. Your Education is Key
Without experience in the job market, your education information is more relevant now than it will be on later resumes. Gather the critical facts about your education, especially if you have an advanced degree.
List the colleges or universities you attended, the degree program, years attended and any honors you earned, like a place on the Dean’s List.
Include serious academic projects you took part in like independent studies or senior theses. These things will show that you are an active learner and highlight skills in presentation, research, and writing.
If you have taken any courses specific to the job you’re applying for, include those.
3. Take the Lead
Because leadership abilities are something hiring managers are looking for, you want to highlight things like opportunities you had to motivate, train, lead, recruit and organize your peers. Good examples of a college student resume can include things like having a leadership role in a club, organization or sports team since you likely don’t have leadership experience in a job setting.
Use action words like “led, created, and implemented,” when describing your activities with these groups.
4. Work It
Even if you have only worked part-time, you should list those jobs on your resume. Any job teaches you things all employers want in a potential employee.
Highlight “transferable skills.” Transferable skills are skills that you carry with you from one job or experience to the next and are relevant to any field.
A server who used a POS system, you could write that you are quick to pick up new computer systems. If you worked in a call center, you have excellent listening skills. If you worked in retail, you have customer service and sales abilities.
5. Community Service and Volunteer Work
Well, maybe leave off any court-ordered community service! While community service and volunteer work are not paid, they still provided you with valuable experience and shows employers that you have a willingness to give without expecting anything in return.
These experiences should be listed like a job with a title that explains the role you played in the organization and should include a description of your duties and accomplishments.
6. Extracurricular Activities and Hobbies
Potential employers want to know what you do in your spare time. If you were a member of a sports team, that shows you work well with others. If you run marathons, that shows commitment and dedication, two traits any employer would like.
Other companies may appreciate seeing a hobby on your résumé if it’s somehow related to the job you’re pursuing. And if there’s a chance your hobby makes you stand out as a more attractive candidate, you’d be wise to include it, Alyssa Gelbard, the founder and president of the career consulting and personal-branding firm Résumé Strategists, tells Business Insider.
“When a potential employer sees a candidate’s hobbies, it provides insight into personality traits, industry knowledge, and can make you more attractive for a role,” she says.
“But remember: Anything you include on your résumé is fair game during an interview, so make sure you can really talk about your passion for the hobby and why you included it on résumé,” Gelbard says.
Hobbies like rock climbing and camping show a willingness to leave your comfort zone, also desirable traits employers look for.
7. Put a Number on It
When you can, include numbers tied to your achievements. If you worked in retail, give a number to how many customers you helped per day and a dollar amount of your monthly sales.
If you raised money for a charity, organization, or a sports team you played on, include how much money you raised.
8. Keywords are Key
Keywords are words that describe requirements in a job posting, the skills, qualities, and credentials that the hiring manager is looking for. Because they are inundated with hundreds or even thousands of resumes, one way to get through them quickly is to scan for these words.
Some companies even use a computer program to scan for keywords so if you don’t include them; a human may not even see your resume. Be sure to cram as many keywords into your resume as you can.
9. Keep it Short
Even someone with twenty years of relevant experience is advised to keep their resume short so as a soon to be or recent grad; you certainly need to keep your college student resume to one page. No exceptions.
10. The Usual Suspects
When hiring managers have so many resumes to look through, they look for ways to cull them quickly. Nothing will get your resume sent to the “circular file” faster than typos, spelling and grammar errors, mismatched and weird fonts and poor formatting.
Make sure your resume doesn’t include any of those. Re-read it ten times, ask ten people to read it, run it through Grammarly. Whatever it takes to make sure it looks and reads perfectly. There is a lot of competition out there so don’t lose out before you even get a chance to get in the game.
You Have A Lot to Offer
It might feel like your college student resume is skimpy but remember, you aren’t applying for the CEO position. You are applying for an entry-level position, and the hiring manager knows that. They aren’t looking for someone with ten years of experience.
So as long as you have put together a thoughtful resume highlighting your skills and strengths, you’ll find a job in no time. If this all seems daunting, try creating a resume with Online Resume Builders or use a resume service. Happy hunting!
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