Your resume is the first thing hiring managers look at when you apply for a job - that’s why it’s important to make sure yours shines. Using the right language and formatting, and including the right talking points, can lead to an interview or even a job offer. Follow our resume writing tips for college students and give yourself the best possible chance for landing that job or dream internship.
1. Find a resume template that works for you
Finding a good resume template is easy—Google and Microsoft Word are great places to start. Look for an example that fits your personality and your experience. Be consistent with the style you choose, whether it be bullet points or short paragraphs, and use the same formatting throughout your resume or CV.
2. Summarize your qualifications
Start your resume with a summary of who you are, what your professional track is, and why you are qualified for this job or internship position. Think of the qualifications summary as a three-sentence cover letter. Recruiters often appreciate knowing a little bit about you beyond your experience. Having trouble creating a summary? A career action plan will make writing a resume easier by giving you a better idea of your strengths and qualifications.
3. Use action verbs
Action verbs—as opposed to linking or helping verbs—are great for communicating responsibility on a resume. Be careful, though, because most experiential bullet points on resumes start with the same set of action verbs, words such as led, handled, or managed. Find creative ways to express your professional responsibilities to help you stand out from the crowd. Try acted as, coordinated, organized, or other synonyms.
4. Use numbers wherever possible
Try to quantify your experience wherever you can when writing a resume—it gives the recruiters a sense of the volume and scope of your work. And it shows you can back up your claims with data, something many managers look for. How did you contribute and how much did you contribute? For instance, interning at an IT desk sounds more impressive when you have served over 100 people a day or caught an error that saved the company $50,000.
5. Don’t hide your education
Most professional resumes list work experience above schooling. However, if you are still a student, then university is your primary responsibility and should feature prominently on your resume. Include your school’s name, your major, and your GPA. You should also consider listing any scholarships or accolades you have received as a result of your studies.
6. Start with relevant work history
If you’re still in school or just graduated, you might not have much professional experience that is directly related to your prospective position. That’s okay—you are not applying for a senior role and are probably not expected to have years of related work history. Align skills you have used in other jobs to the position you are applying to. Include internships, other entry-level jobs, volunteering positions, research projects, and anything else that’s relevant.
7. Focus on your achievements and leadership experience
It’s okay if your experience doesn’t relate directly to the role, especially if you can list examples of how you were a leader. You can also include your professional, sports, or scholastic achievements. Extracurricular activities and joining a campus club—like being captain of your varsity basketball team or belonging to the debate club—show that you are a team player and know how to lead.
8. Don’t forget to include your extracurriculars
Are you on the swim team? In the chess club? Do you volunteer at a local shelter or regularly participate in some other form of community service? If you don’t have the professional experience necessary to fill your resume, include your other activities. Show the recruiter how these activities and interests align with the role requirements in the job description.
9. Include a skills section
Many hiring managers are checking to see if you have the computer skills required to complete the job. Include the computer languages, applications, and platforms that you have experience with, especially when these tools apply directly to the role. If you have taken any classes or hold any certifications—such as the free Google Analytics Academy certifications—make sure you include those credentials, too.
10. One page is enough
Many college students will probably have trouble filling a single page with their work history. If you find yourself running longer than one page, then you should consider editing your resume down to fit. While a one-page resume is not a strict rule—you can go longer if you have the experience to make it work—it’s enough for the majority of job applicants. And remember, writing a great cover letter helps you tell the rest of your story and explain your "why me" to the hiring manager.
11. Don’t forget to proofread
Last but not least, make sure you read through your resume several times before submitting any job applications. A typo, bad grammar, or inconsistencies can be a red flag for hiring managers in fields where attention to detail is important. Ask a family member or friend to take a look, as well as someone in your university’s career service department.
As a college student, finding great ways on how to write a resume can be challenging, but there’s more to a resume than just work experience. Creating a clear picture of who you are, what relevant experience you have, and why you are the best candidate for the position are the ingredients to a great resume. Concentrating on these CV or resume writing tips will help you put your best foot forward when applying for a job.
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