Student resumes present unique challenges - here are tips for making sure you stand out from the crowd.
A resume has only one purpose - to generate interest and interviews. It doesn’t have to get you a job and it doesn’t need to cover your life history. It simply has to pique the interest of the reader and answer the only question he cares about: will this candidate add value to my company?
Most students worry about this because they feel that they can't show they can add value until they've had more work experience, but this is not true at all. There are many ways to show you can add value.
Student Resume Tip #1: Understand Your Target Companies
To show that you can add value, you need to know what potential employers are looking for. Start by researching job postings that interest you. Look for frequently-mentioned requirements. Ask professionals in your target field what they consider important.
Knowing what is important to employers allows you to focus your resume effectively.
Student Resume Tip #2: Create a Value Statement
Don't begin your resume with an objective statement that describes what you're looking for. Instead, begin with a value statement that describes what you can offer potential employers. The difference is in focus. It's not about what you want - it's about what employers need.
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Student Resume Tip #3: Create Strong Content
Your resume content will come from your own unique experiences, skills and background but – as a general guideline – you should include:
- Positive personal characteristics
- Technical and computer skills
- Coursework relevant to your desired profession
- Educational accomplishments (include your GPA if it’s over 3.0).
- Skills and experience gained during internships or summer jobs
- Other related accomplishments (design awards, recognition, winning competitions etc.)
- Work History.
The key is to emphasize those things that demonstrate value given the needs of employers and leave out those things that don’t.
Student Resume Tip #4: Work is work - even when it's unpaid
Don't limit your resume only to paid employment. Include other experience that shows your skills and qualifications.
- If you've volunteered in a related field, include that work.
- If you've taught yourself skills in a certain field, include that work.
- If you help out with a friend's business - and the experience is relevant - include that work.
Experience is just as valuable whether or not you receive a pay check.
Student Resume Tip #5: Design Matters
Many people are surprised to learn that resume design is just as important as content, but it’s absolutely true.
Research suggests that your resume has less than 20 seconds to make the right impression, so it must be eye-catching and easy to read.
To get ideas for layout and structure, check out our resume samples. Please don’t use one of the pre-loaded MS Word templates. There is no better way to make sure you look like everyone else!
Student Resumes - Summary
As you work on your resume, bear in mind your reader’s basic concern: will this candidate add value? If you answer effectively by highlighting relevant skills, personal characteristics and accomplishments, your resume will open the right doors and generate interviews.
To get more tips like these, and learn how to completely transform your resume, sign up for my free resume writing course. We promise never to send sales spam.
Louise Fletcher is the President of Blue Sky Resumes, and Managing Editor and Co-founder of the preeminent careers blog, Career Hub. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and many of her resumes have been published in the JIST "Expert Resumes" series. She has contributed to many online publications including About.com, Monster.com, The Ladders, and Net Temps.