As a college student with little-to-no work experience you might think it is hard to write an appealing resume. In most resume writing tips you will read that your work history should be the most important part of your resume. The truth is that even without any work experience your resume is a crucial document when you are applying for a job.
START WITH THE BASICS
The basic elements of a resume are your personal details (name and contact information), your education and your work history. Before you start writing your resume, start by gathering all your information. Besides the three basic element there are a couple of other elements you can choose to add to your resume, for example a personal profile, skills sections (personal skills, computer skills, language skills etc.), extracurricular activities, hobbies, awards & honors and special achievements.
USE THE RIGHT FORMAT
As a college student or graduate it is best to put with your education before your work history. As a college student your education is in most cases your most notable achievement. When you have a couple of years of relevant work experience it is customary to place you employment history before your education (this is called the reverse chronological resume format).
WRITE A PERSONAL PROFILE
A personal profile is an important section of the modern resume, in particular for college students. The personal profile is a short summary of your resume. Not just to summarize your education and work experience, it offers a great opportunity to add information about your personality and your personal skills. Keep your personal profile short (5 lines max.) and use short sentences. If you want more information about writing a personal profile, check out our post on this topic here.
FOCUS ON YOUR EDUCATION
As a college student your education is probably the most important information on your resume at this moment. As a college student you need to give more information about your education then you would do when you already have a couple of years working experiences. Don’t forget to add information about your specializations and additional courses you might have followed.
BUNDLE YOUR EXPERIENCE
If you have almost no relevant work experience, you can create a section where you can bundle all your relevant experience. In this “Experience” section you can write about internships, part time jobs, volunteer work, projects or other extracurricular activities that are relevant to mention on your resume.
EMPHASIS ON YOUR SKILLS
As college student you might not have a lot of working experience, but you do have relevant skills to mention on your resume. In high school and more recently in college you have developed skills that are important to mention on your resume. Skills like working in a team, project management, presentation etc. When you are writing your student resume create a separate section for your skills. You can even add several different skills sections. Start with a skills sections that demonstrates your most important personal skills. If you have a lot of computer skills and these type of skills are important for the work field you are applying in, you can add a computer skills sections. If language proficiency is important in your work field, add a language skills sections. But keep in mind to select skills that are truly relevant for the job that you are applying for.
ADD AWARDS AND HONORS OR ACHIEVEMENTS TO YOUR RESUME
As a student it can be hard to create a resume that will stand out from other candidates. Adding an Awards and Honors or an Achievements section to your resume can help you to stand out. Awards, honors and special achievements demonstrate your outstanding (personal) skills. When you have special achievements to add to your resume, make sure to select truly significant achievements and try to quantify your achievements as much as possible.
As a college student it is normal to have a short resume. At this point in your career it is really well accepted not to have a resume that is bulging with experiences and achievements. Don’t try to add irrelevant facts to your resume only to stretch your resume. All information on your resume should be relevant. Recruiters want to be able to scan your resume within seconds. Adding irrelevant facts will not only distract the recruiters from the truly relevant information, it will also give recruiters the impression that you don’t know what is important and what is not.
CHECK, CHECK DOUBLE CHECK
Recruiters often receive dozens of resumes for each vacancy. They expect candidates to present themselves the best way possible. This mean that your resume should be flawless every time you send it out to a recruiter. Avoiding typos and spelling mistakes sounds easy, especially with all the spell checkers on our computers nowadays. But when you have been working hard and long on refining your resume and cover letter it is easy to overlook a lost word or a half sentence in between sentences. Always ask a friend to proofread you resume and cover letter before you send it out.
GET A PROFESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS
Create a new email address that will make a professional first impression. Don’t use that funny email address that you had since high school. There are plenty sites where you can get a free email address. Just make sure to get rid of any funny or even offensive email addresses that you might have had, no more firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
We also recommend not to use your .edu email address either. After your graduation you will not be using this mail address any longer. If you get turned down for a job today, a lot of companies will save your resume in a directory and they might want to contact you later when another position is available. Make sure they can reach you.
CUSTOMIZE YOU RESUME FOR EACH JOB APPLICATION
Every applicant is special but the same counts for companies and vacancies. Always adapt your resume and cover letter to the company and the job you are applying for. In the job description of each vacancy there are crucial keywords to be found. Recruiters will look for these keywords in the resumes. Search for these keywords in the job description and use them where possible in your resume and cover letter.