Resume For College Students Or Recent Grads
Are you a college student or a recent graduate looking to start your career? If yes, you will need a resume. In this article, you will learn step-by-step how to write the different sections of a resume for college students or recent graduates. This article takes into consideration that you probably do not have much professional experience, so the focus will be on other areas to spotlight.
How Resumes Have Changed Over The Years
Resumes have drastically changed over the years. In the past, you used to hand deliver or mail your resume to a company that had an opening or a company of interest. Human resources would receive these resumes and read them. Times have changed. Now the majority of resumes are submitted virtually in a PDF or Word format, sent via email to recruiters and companies. It has become so easy to send a resume that recruiters get flooded with several hundred to thousands of resumes for a single position. This in turn has made it next to impossible for recruiters to carefully review your resume. On average, a resume gets about a 6-second look. If it’s interesting, it will be saved; if not, well, you know the answer.
To make matters worse, or better said, more challenging for you, the candidate, companies are now using technology to scan your resumes. These are called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). When you submit a resume, the ATS works as a gatekeeper and is binary: Yes, it passes, no, it doesn’t. On average, 75% of all resumes submitted to a position will never be seen by a recruiter because they did not pass the ATS. In this article, resume for college students, you will see how to format and write each section, so it will best be viewed by the ATS and have a higher likelihood of being seen by a real human being.
How To Write The Heading In A Resume
The heading of a resume for college students will consist of your name, contact info such as email address, and phone number, along with some possible additions such as your address and social media links. These are the main things that you can find in a header.
Name: Write out your full name. This will be in large font and be very apparent at the top of the resume.
Email address: This is one you need to watch out for. It is time to get rid of that old email address that you had as a kid. I remember mine was FreshPrince111@Hotmail.com. For your resume, use something professional. You can use your initials and then your last name or a combination like: PChesney@Gmail.com or Philip.Chesney@Yahoo.com. Create a variation that is close to your name. You may need to add a number or two because that email may not be available. It could be Philip.Chesney1985@Gmail.com . You get the point.
Phone Number: Always add your area code. If you consider sending your resume for jobs or even internships abroad, make sure to add a +1 before your phone number (if you are from the USA) to let the other person know it is a US number. The number would look like +1 (518) 346 – 2230.
Address: Most resumes will have an area for your address. Most people do add this, but some don’t. The reason for not adding it is because some recruiters may not a candidate from out of town. Professionally speaking, it is much better to get your foot in the door and prove that you are a great candidate, instead of being dis-considered because you are not in that region. In many cases, you may be willing relocate for the right position. Choose what you feel is best.
Skype ID: Since a lot of interviews take place over Skype, it is a good idea to add your Skype ID to facilitate future communication. Once again, try to use your name as the Skype ID and not something that might be perceived as childish or unprofessional.
Social Media: Many sites will leave a field for you to add your social media links when you apply for a job; you can also have them on your resume. It is best to include a Linkedin link. If you choose to add Facebook, make sure you have cleaned up your profile and any pictures that may tarnish your professional image.
A summary or professional objective on a resume for college students is to convey what you want to do, what you are looking for, or even to highlight your top accomplishments. This section is totally optional but can make a nice addition to your resume if you use it correctly. Also, remember in the first section where we talked about Applicant Tracking Systems? The summary/ professional objective can help create more relevance in your resume.
Let’s say that you mentioned that you are a college student skilled in ABC, etc. If later on in your resume you demonstrate your knowledge of ABC (at a former job you held or at a volunteer position, or even at school), the ATS understands this to be more relevant. Also, if this is a skill that the job description requires, you will rank higher because it has been mentioned in a few different areas on your resume and in different ways. Therefore, a summary/objective can actually be helpful. If you write one, write a great one.
Bad example: A determined college student looking for a great career.
This was not very inspiring and very bland – too general.
Good example: Passionate marketing and business student that is looking to put her/his knowledge into practice and start career in the marketing department.
Much better and it tells more about you and what you are looking for.
This is one of the key sections on a resume for college students. In many cases, you have not had much professional experience, so you need to put the spotlight on your profile with your educational achievements.
Start by adding the name of the school where you studied/ are studying, degree focus/major, start date and end date/ presumed end date, followed by awards, certifications, your GPA if it was high, and any special projects you took part in.
Bachelor’s in international Relations 2014 – 2018
University of Albany
- Graduated with a 3.9 GPA
- Started an exchange student department and helped host 11 exchange students.
- Participated and later led the debate team.
If you notice in the example above, you presented your course, the dates you studied at the particular school, along with your accomplishments. That is a great start. Always look for things you have done, led, organized, or participated in that could make a nice addition to this section.
The work experience section on a resume for college students is not going to have as much weight as some of the other sections as you will probably not have had much work experience. Regardless of the amount of work experience or lack thereof, make sure to include informal jobs as well. Informal jobs have certain transferable skills and can elicit your skills to the recruiter.
Informal example: suppose you worked doing lawn-care for a few clients. You could mention how you always aimed to give great customer service and impress the client with your quality of work and work ethic e.g. calling to confirm an appointment. You could also mention how you were able to get new clients from word of mouth marketing.
May 2001 – Present
- Currently take care of 4 neighbors’ lawns each 2X per month.
- Constantly aim to deliver a high-quality service and push for word of mouth recommendations. Acquired 2 new customers from my current clientele.
Formal example: you may have worked at a pizzeria, on campus, or even at a fast food restaurant like Burger King. Mention the things you did but put special emphasis on your accomplishments. What did you do that made a difference? How did you add value? It is best to quantify this if possible.
Front Counter | Burger King
Feb 2000 – Dec 2001
- Provide excellent customer service to all customers by greeting them with a smile, cordially taking orders, and delivering what is requested every time.
- Serve customers with a smile and help guarantee a great meal experience by taking accurate orders.
- Assisted manager to on-board 2 new hires. Shadowed and trained new hires in working the front counter.
How To Quantify Your Experience
Let’s look at some questions you can ask yourself to see if you can quantify your experience and add it to your work experience section:
- Were you able to improve your departments ranking in comparison to others?
- Did any of your actions/ideas help make the company more money? How/Why?
- Did any of your ideas/actions help the company grow?
- Did you have any ideas or ways to cut costs and save the department or company money?
- Did you meet your goals? Did you go above and beyond?
- Did you find ways to increase job efficiency or improve company processes?
Whenever possible, use real numbers in your work experience. Show how you brought the company results.
The skills section on a resume for college students is a place to show your knowledge in certain areas. These skills should also mirror the job description. Remember how we talked about the ATS in the beginning, the more your skills and CV match the description, the higher likelihood it will get a Yes and then be viewed by a human being.
For skills, focus on things like language fluency, computer skills, knowledge of different software, and other technical skills you have. Next to each item you list, mention your knowledge level of it. For instance, if you put down Spanish, add a hyphen and then e.g. fluent or proficient etc. Let’s look at a few more to make it stick.
Remember, for each resume you submit, it is best to tweak it to fit the job description. If you have the desired skills, tweak them to better match it. This will increase your chances of getting your foot in the door for an interview.
Do not forget the volunteer experience section on your resume. If you have participated in volunteer projects, mention them. Volunteer experience or taking on specific roles can demonstrate your skills, dedication, and help convey why you are the right person for the job. Additionally, volunteer experience can be a great ice-breaker as the interviewer might be interested in your experience, want to learn more, or may even be part of the organization. Hey, you never know. It is a great way to establish rapport!
This section is optional but can be a great way to showcase your skills, “trophies”, and can be great conversation starters. You might mention sports achievements, stellar grades, or other things you deem relevant.
The extras section is totally optional. If you choose to add it, you could add things like, hobbies, interests, publications, projects you have worked on, community activities, etc.
Complete Resume Look And FeelName - Resume
General Tips – Resume For College Students
- Your resume should be 1-2 pages long. No sending a 7-page resume! No one reads these.
- Write your resume in a reverse chronological order. It should always be current or most recent position first and then go backwards.
- Use PDF or Word format. More importantly, when you submit your resume on a site, check to see what file types they accept. Often their ATS can only read a certain type of file.
- Always customize your resume. Match your resume to the job description. Just don’t BS though. Make sure you do have those skills when you do this.
- No need for references on the resume. In many cases, he company will request references in a specific field on the application or will ask for them afterward. You can then furnish them.
- Be careful with formatting. Do not use borders or tables as the ATS cannot read these. Go for bullet points as they can help organize the information and can be read by the ATS.
Piecing It Together
As you are going through college or have recently finished, you are going to need a resume. Don’t worry if you do not have much experience. Spotlight your academic, voluntary, skills, and other interests of yours. Show who you are and why you are the right person for the job. And do not forget to prepare for your interview!
For high school resume writing, check out the article on Resumes for High School Students.
I wish you success on your career journey!