If you’re still in college, chances are you haven’t had the opportunity to hold down many impressive jobs in between late-night studying and late-night socializing. So if you’re putting together a resume for a potential employer, you may wonder how in the world you can create something that will get you hired for that coveted internship or even a part-time job at your favorite music store. The key is to play up your strengths and include items that make the most of your background, education, work experience, and interests. The following tips will help you craft a student resume that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Put your education front and center. Assuming that your work experience is pretty limited (two summers of waitressing doesn’t qualify as extensive work experience—unless you’re applying to be a waitress), you need to place the education section of your resume at the top. If you have a great overall GPA, make sure that’s in big, bold letters. If your major GPA is far superior, include that number instead. Lacking much real-world experience, potential bosses have to go by how well you applied yourself to your studies to try to predict how well you would apply yourself to their position.
Point out honors and awards. These may not matter 10 years down the road when your career is in full swing, but right now they may hold some sway—kind of like a stellar GPA. If you’ve received any awards or honors (Dean’s List, Sophomore Journalism Award, French Student of the Year, etc.) make sure you compile that list in an “Honors” section.
Highlight experience gained through classes. Say you want to nail down an internship at a publishing house. List classes that have prepared you for this opportunity and the skills you’ve gained through outstanding class work. If you took a PR course and learned to write killer press releases, put that fact in your resume. If a Professional Writing course taught you how to compose professional acceptance and rejection letters (for all of those manuscripts at the publishing house), list that proficiency.
Include your part-time jobs. Logging 15 hours a week at your local coffeehouse isn’t typically a ladder to an accounting job, but your can put a positive spin on experience that may not seem relevant. Think about what your responsibilities were, and list those instead of a cold, hard job description. For example, did you help train a fellow barista? Were you in charge of totaling receipts from the day’s sales? Did you develop a new menu that better highlighted the coffee products? These responsibilities include elements of HR, accounting, and marketing. Think creatively, but make sure it can all be verified by your previous employer.
Sort through your hobbies and volunteer work. Hopefully by now you’ve been involved with at least some volunteer work. Whether that means conducting a fundraiser for your fraternity or sorority or finding time to tutor kids in your favorite subject. Whatever your experience, turn it into something potential employers can use. If you coordinated a bake sale for your sorority, translate your results into numbers that demonstrate a job-related ability. For example: “Under my leadership, this endeavor raised profits by 50% over last year’s totals.” And if you haven’t spent time on volunteer work, make sure you put that at the top of your to-do list—soon!
Emphasize your skills. This includes both “hard” and “soft” skills. By the time they get to college, most students have a thorough understanding of a variety of computer hardware and software, which is critically important in any workplace today. Describe your familiarity with technical applications—especially those that relate directly to the job for which you’re applying. Just as important today are “soft” skills such as interpersonal skills, conflict resolution skills, and teamwork skills. You can list these alone, but it’s more effective to include a one-line account as well. Under teamwork, you may say, “Worked effectively as part of a four-member team to write a proposal to bring a soccer program to campus.”
Make sure employers are able to reach you. If you have a temporary address on campus, as well as a permanent address, add them both to the top of your resume, along with both phone numbers, your cell number, and your e-mail address. You want potential employers to be able to get in touch with you whether you’re home for the weekend or on campus.
Jason Kay recommends that you read customer reviews and ratings of professional resume writing services at www.JobGoRound.com. You can also submit your current resume for a free resume analysis.