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Student Resumes: Building Your Path to Success

A student resume is unique because you may not have a lot of work experience, but you’re extremely excited to jump into the job field. Whether you submit applications before graduation or immediately after, harness that newfound excitement in your resume. When written in the right way, the commitment you have to your field will jump off the document and catch a recruiter’s eye. Use the following tips to help you create a resume that’s a solid foundation for a successful future.

Choose a Format

Student resumes can be hard to write because of the lack of professional experience. When using a CV builder choose the chronological resume or CV format. This allows you to list your most recent experiences first.

Eliminate blank spaces by adding experience, internships and skills relevant to the job. Because a recruiter only has a few seconds to scan each CV or resume, keep the writing simple and scannable.

Show Unrelated Work in a Relatable Way

You have a degree in chemical engineering, but you waited on tables to get through college. On the surface, there’s no way the two are relevant to each other. When detailing this job, avoid describing tasks that are directly related to food service, and highlight transferable skills that show drive, determination, teamwork and leadership.

Check Job Descriptions for Keywords

Many companies use applicant tracking systems to sort through the thousands of resumes they get for each job. These keywords are often found in the job description. When included in your resume, the system recognizes your value in that area and sends it through for the next round of consideration.

There are a few easy ways to set your resume up to pass an applicant tracking system.

  • Check the job description for skills and character traits the company wants for the job.
  • Collect a list of those keywords from the required qualifications and preferred skills.
  • Use standard headings like Education, Skills or Experience on your resume.
  • Keep the formatting simple and avoid things like tables, columns, images or headers.
  • Submit your resume in a Word document, as many ATS programs can’t scan PDF documents.

Use the Right Words to Stand Out

If you’ve been in school and don’t have a lot of work experience, there are still ways to make your resume pop with the right words. Even if you’ve worked outside of your field, there are qualifications and skills that transfer from one industry to another. Using different words to describe common tasks is one way to catch the attention of a recruiter. Try replacing the following words with the ones after them.

  • Oversaw: delegated, authorized, verified, screened, monitored
  • Saved: yielded, consolidated, lessened, decreased conserved
  • Managed people: mentored, trained, supervised
  • Wrote: composed, documented, corresponded, persuaded, edited
  • Helped clients: resolved, advised, informed, fielded, consulted
  • Achieved: exceeded, completed, outperformed, surpassed, showcased

Switching up the words in your resume makes it more interesting and allows you to show your strengths in quantifiable ways.

Focus on Experiences and Skills

Before creating your resume or CV, make a list of skills and experiences you’ve gained or had during your educational experience. It’s likely you participated in more beneficial experiences than you realize.

Start by making a list of the most significant experiences you’ve had in work or school up to this point in your life. Include achievements from jobs, internships, academics, community service, school activities and athletics. Think through every facet and aspect of your life to find experiences that show you can do the job. Once you’ve made the list, narrow it down to the two or three where you were most impactful and use the words above to showcase how you made an impact.

Show Your Personality

Without a lot of work experience, you must wow the recruiter in any way possible. While CVs and resumes often seem generic, a dynamic document may be the thing that gets you the job. Show yourself as an active person rather than someone who just showed up to work or school and did the minimum. Consider situations where you led or trained. Highlight why you were chosen for customer-facing positions because your employer liked your personality or your character traits.

Highlight Yourself As an Engaged Learner

If you’re a recent graduate, most of your time has been spent in a classroom. If you highlight your education and class time correctly, you show you’re engaged in places where you can learn and grow. Include a high GPA, a description of a senior theses or independent study, or other serious academic projects. Not only does this show you are an active learner, but it also highlights your writing, research and presentation skills.

Accentuate the Value of Community Service Where Appropriate

Many companies have a section on their website highlighting their investments and engagement in the community. More and more in today’s world, consumers want to work with and buy from organizations that are invested in improving the world around them. Before you apply for a job, check the company’s website for their community service section.

If the company has a robust community service section, it shows this is important to them. Highlight any work you’ve done for the community and continue to volunteer while you look for a job. If the company is lacking in community service, show how you’ve led community projects and how you can help expand their current abilities.

A Professional Contact Section

Make it easier for them to get in touch with you if they want to interview you. Show your contact details in a scannable way and include a link to your portfolio when relevant. Create a robust LinkedIn page so they can learn more about you once they’ve decided they love your resume or CV.

Getting a job right out of college can seem like a daunting task. If you present your education and work experience in a way that is relatable to the job you’re applying for, your chances of employment increase exponentially.