Need to create a resume but don’t have any “real world” experience?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As a college student looking for an internship or your first real job, creating a good resume can seem like an impossible task.
But it’s not.
We’ve put together a list of 7 actionable tips that will help you create an amazing college resume.
Read on to learn what to include, what to avoid, and where to turn for help.
1. Don’t Forget Contact Information
It doesn’t matter how amazing your resume is—if your prospective employer doesn’t know how to get in touch with you, what’s the point?
Many college students spend so much time on the “experience” part of their resume that they omit the obvious—including their contact info.
Your full name, phone number, address, and email address should ALWAYS be at the top of the page, no exception. If your contact information is hard to find (or missing), hiring managers and recruiters will put your resume in the “no” pile in an instant.
If your email address is something silly or juvenile, like firstname.lastname@example.org, do yourself a favor and create a new one. You need to make yourself look as professional as possible—and that starts with a professional email address.
Sign up for a new Gmail address or use your school email address if you want to be considered as a serious candidate.
2. Write a Compelling Objective Statement
If you’re a seasoned professional, the standard objective statement is a bit outdated. But if you’re new to the workforce, it’s still acceptable. It should quickly and effectively state who you are, what relevant skills you possess, and what you’re looking to achieve.
It’s important to be as specific as possible in your objective. So be prepared to change this accordingly, depending on the job or internship you’re applying for.
In your objective statement, make specific mention of the company you’re applying to or the position you’re applying for. Have a template ready where you can change this info every time you forward your resume to a hiring manager.
If you do have some prior work experience, consider replacing the “objective statement” with a “career summary.” With a career summary, you can include a list of your skills that apply to variety of possible job opportunities in your field.
3. Pay Extra Attention to the Education Section
As a college student without years of work experience to include, your resume should highlight one thing: your education. It’s important to include your most recent and relevant college experience.
Your college resume should include your GPA—as long as it’s 3.0 or higher. This lets potential employers know that you are hardworking, intelligent, and able to meet deadlines.
You should also include any relevant coursework. It’s likely that the job or internship you’re applying for aligns with your major. So outline a few courses you have taken that show you have some background in your particular field.
It’s also okay to include extracurricular activities. List any clubs, sports, or campus groups you belong to, and be sure to point out if you held a leadership position in any of those organizations.
4. Consider Including an Achievements Section
Don’t have any professional work experience to include? Consider replacing that section of your resume with a list of achievements. Include academic awards, extracurricular achievements, volunteer work, and even major class projects.
With a list of achievements, you can show prospective employers that you know how to meet and exceed goals. Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, a list of recent successes may be more relevant that prior work experience that doesn’t relate.
5. If You Do Have Work Experience…
List prior positions you have held and indicate how that experience transfers to the internship or job you’re applying for. For example, if you worked in a fast food restaurant, explain how you had to stay organized and maintain excellent customer service skills.
You also don’t need to include every job you’ve ever had. List the ones that are the most relevant to the job opportunity. Include the ones that allow you to show your biggest strengths and skills and eliminate those that don’t.
Always list prior jobs in reverse chronological order. The further you get into your career, the more important it is not to show any gaps in your employment history. But as a college student, it’s okay to have gaps, because hiring managers will understand that your focus was on school.
6. Don’t Send the Same Resume to Every Company
Hiring managers look at hundreds of resumes at a time—and they know how to spot a generic one. To separate your resume from the pack of other applicants, customize your resume to each specific job or internship.
Include keywords from the original job description and tweak the details to fit the requirements of each job. Lists of classes you’ve taken and lists of your greatest skills should vary depending on the specific opportunity.
7. Ask Professors for Help
It’s always a good idea to have a professional review your resume before you send it out.
If you have a strong relationship with one of your college professors, ask them to take a look at your resume. Their feedback will be helpful in the editing process, and it may even lead to them writing you a letter of recommendation.
When it comes time to create your first college resume, don’t get stressed out. Follow these seven actionable tips and you’ll end up with a great resume that shows your strengths and shows your track record of success.
And keep this in mind—in some cases, hiring managers and recruiters prefer green candidates with little or no experience. Some companies like to hire college grads fresh out of school that they can train, mold, and shape to do the work the way they want it done.
So list your skills, make sure you include your contact information, and highlight your achievements thus far. Your lack of experience just might be an advantage that can help you land that perfect job!
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