When you’re a busy college student whose number one priority is to pass your classes so you can get your degree, it can be overwhelming to think about trying to get a job on top of it all. How will you convince someone to hire you when you have so little experience? A student resume is the answer.
Geared specifically toward college students applying for jobs and internships, a student resume includes work history when available but places a heavier emphasis on academic achievements that pertain to the job you want. It positions your experience in a way that helps hiring managers view you as a strong candidate.
What to focus on
Emphasize your relevant skills
Think about the job you’re trying to get. What skills are most important for success? Now, what past experiences have you had that have helped you develop those skills? Your resume should communicate these experiences in a way that ties them to the position you’re seeking.
Show that you’re well rounded
Since students are primarily focused on their education, hiring managers understand that you may not have an extensive work history. Still, your collegiate career is a valuable experience in and of itself. It has likely helped you develop characteristics that are in demand among employers, like maturity and motivation. Your student resume showcases things like extracurricular involvement and leadership roles that have contributed to these traits.
Why do you need a resume?
As a student, a resume can help you:
To land a great job
Whether you’re looking for a part-time job on nights and weekends, a summer job while classes or out or your first full-time job after graduation, a student resume shows hiring managers how your college experience has prepared you to be an employee they can depend on.
To be prepared when opportunity knocks
College is a rich experience full of new opportunities, and you never know when one will come your way. Preparing a student resume even if you’re not looking for a job right now will ensure that you’re ready for anything, like if your professor suddenly announces there’s an internship opening up with your dream employer. If you already have a resume ready to go, you can make minor tweaks and hand it in rather than scrambling to try to put one together in a hurry.
When should you use a resume?
You can use a student resume when:
- You have limited work experience
- You’re looking for a part-time job
- You’re applying for internships
- You’re preparing to enter the workforce full time
Common challenges and how to overcome them
Having limited availability
As a student, your schedule can be pretty random, with early morning classes, late-night study sessions, and extracurricular club meetings, not to mention fitting in some semblance of a social life. But how does a job fit into the puzzle?
When you need to work around your collegiate schedule, use your objective statement to provide more information about your availability. For example, Pre-law student seeking administrative position. Available on call to fill irregular hours including early mornings, nights, and weekends.
Additionally, consider applying for a job with an on-campus employer, who will be much more accustomed to accommodating students’ no standard schedules.
Lacking real-world work experience
Everyone has to start somewhere. When you don’t have an extensive catalog of prior work experience, make up for it by highlighting your participation in campus activities, relevant classes, and unpaid experiences like volunteer work.
Student resume format and key components
When creating your student resume, we suggest sticking with a simple format that’s easy to create in any word processing app. The streamlined layout makes it easy for hiring managers to scan quickly and helps you ensure that formatting is consistent throughout when building it.
Here are the key components to include in your student resume:
- Contact information
Include your name, phone number, and email address. While it’s acceptable to use an ‘.edu’ email address, consider switching to a ‘.com’ email client since you’ll lose access to your college email inbox once you graduate. If you have a website that showcases your skills, like an online portfolio for art students, you can also include it here.
- Objective statement
Your objective statement is a concise summary that helps the reader get to know you as a candidate. Use it to sum up what you’re studying and the kind of job you’re looking for. For example: ‘Dedicated marine biology student seeking summer internship in environmental science. Two years of coursework experience in a research lab setting.’ Your objective statement should be tailored to the job you’re applying for. So, if you’re applying for internships with both marine laboratories and conservation nonprofits, you’d want to change up your objective statement accordingly.
Your academic information should have a prominent place on your resume so it’s clear to the reader that you’re a student. Include your school name, the degree you’re pursuing and your expected graduation date. List courses and any other academic activities that are specifically relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- Relevant experience
We suggest swapping out the traditional resume section of ‘work history’ for ‘relevant experience.’ This way, you can include all of your pertinent experiences together, including part-time jobs, internships, volunteer positions, involvement in academic organizations, etc.
Positions should be listed in reverse chronological order starting with the current or most recent one. In each entry, include the title of your role, the company or institution, the dates of involvement and three to four bullet points explaining your main duties and accomplishments.
In the bullet points, use quantifiable statements wherever possible. So, instead of ‘served as membership chair,’ say ‘grew economics club membership by 20%.’
Skills can include things you’ve learned in your classes, like Photoshop or fluency in French, as well as soft skills you’ve picked up from your experience, like customer service or problem-solving. They should be written as a list.
- Notable accomplishments
Some candidates may choose to include a separate section for awards and recognitions that don’t fit elsewhere but that is still impressive to a hiring manager, like making the dean’s list four years in a row or winning a statewide essay contest.