Resume Tips for College Students: Differences You Should Keep in Mind

resume tips for college students
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Writing a resume for the first time might seem like a difficult task. The stakes are high, and standing out amongst the competition is not easy. This is even more difficult when you are in the position of a fresher, or when you have no work experience.

Finding a job straight out of college and university is a tough task. These tips and pieces of advice will help you make it slightly easier to find employment, even if you have no prior working experience.

How to Write a Resume if You Have No Work Experience

When you finish your studies or are close to finishing them, applying for a job without any prior experience can seem daunting. And while experience is always a plus, you have to start somewhere, and the people who do the hiring know this.

  • You have to make the most of what you have. If you have graduated, list the degree and school, field of study and any academic honors or awards.
  • Next, list any relevant certifications, classes or training you have undertaken. If you’ve volunteered or been a part of any relevant projects, make sure to emphasize that.
  • Employers are always looking for people with what are called transferrable skills – these are skills which are useful in any line of work. Play to your strengths – maybe you are a good communicator, good at presentations, familiar with networking or data analysis.
  • Make use of a professional summary. This is a short, 2-3 sentence overview of your background, interests and capabilities. This part of a resume is usually reserved for the most important details of your career – but it is perfectly acceptable to use it this way.
  • And last but not least, be sure to make use of a cover letter. Unlike a resume, which is a bit impersonal, a cover letter is a great way to showcase your personality. Using it to present yourself as a passionate and ambitious worker will go a long way.

What Makes a Great Resume

Nowadays, HR departments are overbooked. They have to review hundreds of resumes a day. The most important thing is to keep it readable and appealing.

Pay attention to formatting, and if possible, try to include everything in just one page. This will make it easier for your potential employer to read through your resume. Don’t overthink design – keep it simple and clean.

Tailor and customize your resume to the job you are applying to. Don’t just send out your old resume (if you have one) – tweak it and try to highlight or mention things that are more relevant for the position you are applying to. Link the skills you possess and the position you are applying for.

Avoid using full sentences and focus on past tense action verbs. This will immediately give your potential employer an insight into what you can bring to the table.

What Makes a Bad Resume

Nobody sets out to write a bad resume. All of the most common mistakes made when writing one are accidental or done with good intentions. It’s easy to make a mistake all the while thinking you’re doing a great job. One mistake is the most common of all – too much information.

  • More is not always better. It can seem logical to include all of our accomplishments and successes, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Listing paragraphs of unnecessary information won’t make your resume any more impressive – it’s all fluff.
  • Don’t include hobbies that aren’t related to the job you want. And although compiling a list of keywords for the position you’re seeking is a good strategy, when done wrong, it can seem off-putting.
  • Don’t include a statement of objectives. Saying something along the lines of “Looking for a position in which I can improve my knowledge” is completely unneeded.
  • Avoid information overload when it comes to previous jobs if you have any experience. There’s no need to list the exact dates when you started or stopped working there, or the reason you stopped. And while references are good, there’s no need to have more than two.

What to Include

When you’ve gotten education and work experience out of the way, you’re still left with a lot of material to work with.

  • Include skills you consider relevant.
  • Knowledge of foreign languages should always be included.
  • Indicate which computer programs you are proficient in and mention if you possess any additional certificates.

Include dates for all points, and try to ensure there are no gaps. If you have taken a gap year either from college or work, you can include and emphasize this, but also be ready to answer questions about it during the interview.
When sending a resume via e-mail, make sure the file name is clear and in order. Use a dedicated work e-mail, and make sure your contact information is correct.

What to Avoid

  • Avoid grammatical errors and typos. Small mistakes can cost you a lot. Keep the tone of writing consistent and avoid any negativity.
  • If you are delivering a resume in person, make sure it is tidy and neat. No coffee rings, no food stains, no stray hairs. You want to project a sense of order. Focus on specific, concrete achievements, either academically or in the workplace if you have experience.
  • It’s important to put things in context and draw a connection between what you can do, and what the company needs. Most hiring managers are not used to photos in resumes, so avoid this.
  • Don’t include jobs that were short term or a long while ago, unless you are in the position of a fresher. A growing trend that you should also avoid is listing your social media on a resume.

What Kind of Language Should I Use?

What kind of language you use is also a key factor.

  • Avoid opinions. Sentences that start with I believe or I consider myself to be can be reworded to sound much better.
  • Don’t include overused clichés. Many words have lost their meanings when it comes to resumes – it’s expected that you’re a “team player, strategic thinker, hard worker who thinks outside the box.”
  • Learn about power words – this will help you to present yourself in an attention-grabbing way, which is very important to do when you’re a fresher. You have to stand out amongst other university or college graduates.
  • Focus on concrete examples – and when possible, present them numerically. Putting a value on the savings or profits you’ve enabled to a previous company cuts out all the fluff.
  • Focus on short, clear sentences with action verbs. What you have achieved, improved, managed, negotiated, streamlined, spearheaded and launched. This is far better and more attention-grabbing.

Concluding Thoughts

As much as writing a resume can be stressful and difficult, there are plenty of ways to make the process easier and to increase the odds of success. Study these instructions and examples carefully, and armed with the knowledge of what to do and what to avoid, you resume writing skills will improve drastically.

And in today’s world, where changing jobs and careers is much more common than before, these are skills that you will certainly need.

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