How to Write a College Resume

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Creating a resume as a college student is an important step in the process of finding a job or internship while you pursue your education or after graduation. It allows you to highlight your skill set, unique experiences and knowledge you gained while in college. Writing a resume as a student with little or no professional experience can take some time and possibly a bit of creativity. In this article, you can learn what a college resume is and what should be included, the steps for how to write a college resume and some bonus tips to make the process easier. 

What is a college resume?

A college resume is a resume that college students or recent graduates use to pursue jobs. This type of resume will highlight your educational background and skills rather than your work history. A college resume could include specific coursework, research and academic awards that you achieved during your college career. It can also include extracurricular activities and internships.

How to write a college resume

You can create a great college resume to capture the attention of hiring managers and help you get you the interview you’re hoping for.

Here are the key steps:

1. First, choose the resume format that suits your current status

Typically, a traditional resume format that emphasizes your employment history, listing work experiences in chronological order, won’t work for a college student or recent graduate. But, if you have completed multiple internships that are applicable to the career you’re pursuing, you may be able to follow a traditional format.

In most cases, though, you will want to highlight your academic background and the skills you have accumulated that will help employers achieve the goals for an individual role. You will likely need to use a functional or chronological resume format with a focus on your academic career.

2. Second, make your education the center focus of your college resume

While education is typically at the bottom of a traditional resume, for a college resume, you should consider moving it toward the top. 

Include different aspects of your college career, such as:

  • Coursework. Include coursework that relates to the position for which you are applying.
  • Academic awards. Recognition from awards shows a commitment to hard work and that you are motivated to reach goals.
  • Research. Research papers on a specific topic show your mastery of that subject, which is particularly important if it’s in the field you are pursuing. It also can show potential employers that you have critical thinking and written communication skills. Consider adding these papers to an online portfolio site and including the link on your resume.

3. Third, include work and volunteer experiences on your college resume

In a college resume, you can include internships, volunteer experience and even extracurricular activities. These experiences can show you have the skills to accomplish the duties required for a role. For example, if you participated in sports or were a member of a club while in college, you likely developed interpersonal skills such as teamwork, communication and resiliency. If you held a leadership position in a club or organization, you learned not only leadership skills but also time management, problem-solving and possibly even hard skills like budgeting. 

If you completed internships, give the name of the company, the location, your position and the dates you held the position. List each responsibility as a bullet point in past tense, highlighting measurable results as much as possible.

4. Fourth, list relevant skills on your college resume

Include skills that are relevant to the position for which you’re applying, as they can quickly demonstrate how you could make a great addition to a team. Include both hard skills, such as computer programming or foreign language skills, and soft skills, such as critical thinking and time management. 

Here’s an example of what that could look like:

Programming languages include: PHP, CSS, HTML, SQL, Java and JavaScript

Additional skills: Problem solver, highly organized, great with time management

Tips for writing a college resume

Here are a few extra tips that should help your resume stand out to potential employers:

  • Use relevant keywords. When you’re applying for a specific job, make a list of the required skills the employer is looking for, specifically the keywords they’re using to describe the role. Select the keywords that are most applicable to your experience and use those throughout your resume.
  • Proofread carefully. Read your resume out loud to increase the likelihood of catching typos and grammatical errors. You may even want to consider asking a friend or family member to review it for errors as well.
  • Ensure it’s scannable. Hiring managers often receive hundreds of resumes each time a job is posted. This usually prohibits them from reading each resume in its entirety, which is why it’s important to ensure your resume is scannable. Check to ensure it has adequate space in the margins, that the lines are spaced enough so that it’s easily readable, that you use bullets whenever applicable and that the font is easily readable. Consistency in all areas of your resume is essential for readability.