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Creating a student resume can be a daunting process. Chances are, you’ve never had a professional job before, which leaves you staring at a blank piece of paper hoping that a resume would magically appear.
While having a degree is great, you should know that your entire graduating class has that. As does the previous graduating class, and the graduating class of the university nearby.
At the end of the day, what’s really going to set you apart from everyone else is your resume, which is why you have to make it perfect.
In this guide, you’re going to learn:
- The Resume Must-Knows
- What sections to include
- How to list basic information on your resume (contact, education)
- How to sell yourself without any work experience
- Using internship experience to set yourself apart
- Using somewhat “irrelevant” work experience to your advantage
- How university activities can lead to professional skills
Whether you’re a student or a professional with 20 years of experience, you’ll have to start off your resume the same way.
The must-have sections in any resume are:
- Contact Information
- Summary or Objective
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
You might want to start working on your student resume right now - it's much easier to apply everything you learn as you read on. Give our resume builder a try.
While the contact section of your resume might seem simple, it’s very important to get it right. Imagine spending weeks sending out your resume and not getting a response because you've got a type in your e-mail!
Always make sure that your contact section is 100% accurate.
The contact information section consists oF:
First Name / Last Name
Address (City, State, Zip Code)
Most of those entries are pretty self-explanatory. The one thing you should pay extra attention to is the e-mail address.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
When it comes to e-mail, make sure to use a professional one. Use [First Name] + [Last Name] @ EmailProvider.com, or any variation of that.
Cassanova6969@emailpals.com may be funny but the recruiter will see it as extremely unprofessional.
Make sure not to use your university email because those accounts tend to expire after graduation.
Depending on your major, there are some additional things you could mention.
- Behance - if you’re a design student, it’s a good way to showcase your portfolio
- GitHub - If you’ve been studying programming, you probably have a lot of projects or games you’ve worked on. That’s something the recruiter would love to take a look at - and GitHub is a good place to store those.
- Blog, Website - For any job that requires a portfolio - be it design, coding or writing, you can always create a personal website from scratch.
Contact information is important - you don't want to lose your dream job because the recruiter couldn't contact you. Learn how to include contact information in your resume with our guide!
RESUME SUMMARY OR OBJECTIVE
A good way to begin your resume is with either a summary or an objective. This will be the first thing a recruiter sees the factor that determines whether they’re going to read the rest of it.
The summary is your professional overview and it goes first, followed by the objective which explains what you’re trying to achieve with the resume and why you're a good fit for the job.
As a student, you probably don’t have much of a professional career, so what you need to go for is an objective.
How to Write a Resume Objective
As we’ve mentioned before, the idea behind a resume objective is to show the recruiter why you’re applying for the job, and how it’s going to beneficial for the company to hire you. Let's look at a bad and good example.
I studied accounting because my parents thought it was cool. I want this job because I like cozy offices, nice pay, and being able to repay my $100,000 student loans
This is NOT what the recruiter is looking for. The more specific you are, the more likely the recruiter will take you seriously.
While there are no strict “rules” on how you create a resume objective, you should keep in mind that the general standard is having it written in 3rd person.
To help make it easier to create a resume objective, we came up with a super-simple formula:
Now, let’s look at each of the ingredients one by one, so it’s easier to apply it to your case.
- University Degree - Which school you’re going to, what your major is, and any honors or distinctions.
- Extracurricular Activities - The “work” you did during school. This can entail the clubs you participated in or the competitions you won.
- Application - This portion explains how you've put your degree and activities to use in real life.
To make that more understandable, let’s turn it into something more practical:
Energetic and passionate Business Administration graduate from Boston University [University Degree]. Record of excellence in finance, having won 2nd place on the MadeUpFinanceCompetetion [Extracurricular Activities]. Looking to leverage the knowledge and skills gained from the university in a career in finance [Application].
A resume objective shows the recruiter that you're passionate about the company. Want to learn more about creating a killer resume objective? Check out our guide!
This section is where the last 4 years of your life go.
here's how to format the section:
Type of degree + Field of study
University name + Duration
Honors and Distinctions
This section is very straoghtforward. There’s no “wrong” way to list your education.
The one thing you should consider is the GPA. You want to use it only if it works in your favor. List it only if it's a 3.5+ /4.0.
check out this examplE:
Cornell University, 2012 - 2016
3.76 / 4.0.
- Awarded merit-based MadeUp Scholarship
- Graduated with Honors in the field of Accounting
Have more questions about listing your education? Maybe you dropped out from school, and are unsure about whether to mention it. Or maybe you're wondering how to mention honors and distinctions? Learn all that and more with our guide!
Once you’ve got all the basics of the resume down, but you still don't know how to go about work experience.
Maybe you've even heard the popular trope...
- 20+ years of experience in marketing
- Experience in managing marketing budget of $20,000+
- Results-driven, able to make us rich
The job is paid in exposure, good vibes & a potential for a normal job (eventually. If we like you. Maybe.)
Well, here’s some good news - that’s not exactly how it works. The “needing work experience to get a job, needing a job to get work experience” trope is actually a myth.
As a student, what sets you apart is not your years of experience. The recruiter knows that you’ve probably never worked before, not a lot of people applying for an entry-level job have.
What HR is looking for is your willingness to learn and there are plenty of ways to show demonstrate that on your resume, including having all the core information put together in one of these successful resume templates.
To be more specific:
- Internship Experience - These days, many universities make it mandatory to complete an internship before graduation. Internships can help prepare you for a career in your field, and get you the skills you need for your first professional job.
- Transferable Experiences - Chances are, you’ve worked some sort of part-time blue-collar job. Think a cashier, waiter, or a customer support rep. While those positions might seem a bit irrelevant in comparison to a professional job, they give you transferable skills that help set you apart from the competition.
- Extracurricular Activities - Your college adviser has probably told you that extracurricular activities are good for your student resume. It’s true - they tend to give you applicable skills (think editing, photography, writing, administration).
- Projects & Portfolio - You’ve probably had some side-projects in school. Maybe it’s a game you’ve developed in your free time or concept-art you’ve been working on. Mentioning them in your resume proves that despite your lack of work experience, you’re completely capable of working in the field.
We’re going to go through them one-by-one, and explain how they can fit into your resume.
If you can make your work experience work for you, you're a shoe-in for the job! Learn everything there is to know about listing your work experience with our complete guide!
If you’ve done an internship in college, it's going to be a lot easier to find a professional job after school. You list internships on your resume exactly the same way as work experience - in a reverse chronological order and with simple formatting.
Position + Dates
Responsibilities & Accomplishments
Check out this example:
- Underwent training in digital marketing, specifically for SEO, PPC & Content Marketing
- Published 3 posts on the company blog, each receiving 100+ shares
- Managed an AdWords account of $2,000, under the supervision of the PPC manager
- In charge of the execution of blogger outreach, establishing 5+ contacts with influencers
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
Quantification is king - whenever you have the chance, talk about your experiences in numbers.
To get a better idea, look at the following example...
Closed monthly deals of $5,000+
Which one sounds more “convincing?”
The first case, the recruiter would see dollar signs - this guy can sell, and he’ll make us some real money. In the second case, there’s really nothing to be impressed by.
Let's say you've held a summer job between college semesters.
At a glance, a summer job as a server might seem like it can't help you in any way. Why should a recruiter care about the time you spent waiting tables? Is that something you’d even mention on a resume?
Well, it depends - in some cases, mentioning the experience might be what sets you apart.
Which one do you think would win between these two examples?
Worked 60+ hours a week as a server during summer holidays to pay for school
My family paid for my university, and I’ve never worked a day in my life
Itt’s always better to mention some work experience as opposed to none. It shows initiative and willingness to get things done.
If you don’t have enough internships or extracurricular activities to fill up a page, then you might want to add any kind of work experience you have.
Temporary jobs could give you transferable skills which can be directly applicable to the full-time position you're applying for. For example, let’s say the job you’re applying for requires dealing with customers.
If you’ve done anything that put you in charge of ensuring client satisfaction, then that experience might be relevant for the job. Some examples are:
- Waiter / Waitress
- Sales Assistant
- Customer Support
So if you’re applying for a job in sales, you’d want to mention any of these in your work experience section.
- Worked 20 to 30 hours a week as a server to help university bills
- Interacted with 30+ customers on a daily basis
- Ensured 100% customer satisfaction, catering to their every need
- Voted employee of the month during months of Aug, Oct.
This shows that the job-seeker is familiar with hard work and managing to put in long hours while attending school.
Plus, they’ve interacted with customers before which immediately puts them ahead of anyone who hasn’t.
Want to land your internship resume? Learn how to create an internship resume with our complete guide & get ahead your competition!
It’s a fact - extracurricular activities are good for your resume. Think of them as a “simulation” of real work. You go to meetings, organize events, and interact with “co-workers.”
The thing here is, though, that you really have to be participating and serious about it. This is the only way you'll actually benefit from being a part of all the clubs you sign up for.
University clubs can teach you hard skills like photography, video editing, public speaking, or soft skills like being organized, interpersonal, negotiation, and thinking on your feet. The section for extracurricular activities works as “work experience” would on a more seasoned resume.
If you’ve worked consistently at a club, then you want to mention the exact things you’ve done.
Extracurricular activities formatting
Position + Dates
Responsibilities & Accomplishments
This is according to the same principles as your typical work experience section. Make sure to quantify your achievements whenever possible.
Check out the example below:
2016 Sep - 2017 Jan
- In charge of managing communications with different influencers & business people
- Oversaw a team of 4, mentoring new members and ensuring all events went as scheduled
- Organized events for students interested in entrepreneurship, bringing in guest speakers & holding simulations
- Established relations with 5+ local companies, sponsoring food & drinks for club events).
If you haven’t done much at the club, however, or if it’s something you really can’t count as an experience, then you can do a simple line…
Club + Position + Dates
This kind of experience also works. Say, you’ve played soccer for 4 years in school. That means you’re physically fit and have some endurance. Really demanding jobs such as business consulting, for example, need some real serious endurance.
Member of the University Soccer Club, Sep 2015 - Feb 2017.
PROJECTS AND PORTFOLIO
Depending on what you studied in school, you might have worked on some side-projects. For example, a web developer might have coded a website at a university club.
If you’re a designer, maybe you’ve done fan-art for your favorite TV shows. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneurial business student, starting a mini-business on your college campus.
If you're worked on any digital projects, you can upload them in an online portfolio and include a link to it in your contacts section. If on the other hand, it’s a real-life project, then you might want to create a separate section for it in your resume.
In that case, you’d want to structure it as is “work experience,” but with some minor differences.
Experience, Achievements, etc.
Now, let’s turn that into a practical example:
On MadeUpUni campus, there was a lack of a delivery options from local restaurants. I started CampusFoods to solve the problem, employing students to do delivery runs for a % of profits from the restaurant.
- Bootstrapped the entire project, initially handling the deliveries personally.
- Created a delivery schedule, allowing for low-cost food transportation.
- Hired 3 university students part-time, managing and coordinating them on a daily basis.
- During the entire business life-time, earned over $10,000+ in revenue.
Skills can be a very important section in your resume - but it can also be literally nothing.
There are 2 different types of skills you mention on a resume:
- Hard Skills - These are the technical stuff - anything that you can empirically prove. Think Photoshop, web design, C++, etc.
- Soft Skills - Everything less tangible. Think, people skills, critical-thinking, and leadership.
Hard skills are essential for any good resume. If the employer is looking for someone skilled at Photoshop, it’s a must that you mention that you’re proficient at it. Otherwise, you're just going to get skipped.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
Never, ever lie about your skill level. If you start a job as a web developer and realize that you have no idea how to do basic layout, it’s going to be awkward for everyone.
You can divide hard skills into 3 different levels:
- Beginner - Just starting out, <1 year of experience
- Intermediate - 1 - 3 years of experience.
- Expert - 3+ years of experience, less if you have achievements to back up the claim
Listing them on a resume is also extremely simple - simply mention the skill & your level of expertise.
Photoshop - Intermediate
Illustrator - Intermediate
Excel - Beginner
UX Design - Beginner
Soft skills, however, aren’t nearly as simple. They also happen to be something that most students mess up with.
Since soft skills aren't tangible, anyone can claim that they have them, regardless of whether it's a sophomore in college, or a manager with 10 years of experience.
So when a student needs something to fill up their resume, they just list different soft skills they supposedly possess, thinking that the recruiter will just believe them at a glance.
Imagine seeing this as on a student resume:
Soft skills example
This says nothing substantial about you as a candidate. Listing theoretical things such as “critical thinking,” “leadership,” etc., doesn’t work, since everyone else can do the same. You have to back up these claims with evidence of achievements.
Soft skills example
Held managerial positions in 3 student clubs during the time in the university, managing teams consisting of up to 10 people.
Here, on the other hand, you have solid proof of your leadership experience - and that’s something the recruiter might ask you as a follow-up in an interview.
Now let's look at a complete example:
Once you have everything down, it’s time to proofread your resume and start your first professional job-search. In terms of proofreading, it’s always good to have a friend take a look at it. There might be some minor mistakes that have slipped by.
If your university has a career center, then you might want to have them take a look at it, too.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
It’s important for your resume not to have any spelling or grammatical mistakes. It shows that you’re actually serious about your career. Plus, attention to detail is one of those things any future boss will value. So, you might want to run your resume through Grammarly, or any other spell-checking tool.
If you can't get in touch with your career center for whatever reason, you might want to give our experts a try!
Do remember, though, that your first job-search might seem a bit discouraging at times. There might be times when it seems hopeless, with no one getting back to you after you sent out hundreds of e-mails.
Remember that until you've mnaged to build a solid career, job-search is a numbers game. All you have to do is keep applying.
If you’re applying for jobs at bigger corporations, this might even be tougher, since they (sometimes) don’t send out rejection letters.
If, however, you’re going for small to medium-sized companies, you can use an email tracking tool such as BananaTag, which gives you information on whenever your emails are opened.
To make it even more high-tech, you can use DocSend to store your resume online and send a link. In that case, DocSend will notify you whenever someone takes a look at your resume & how long they’ll be looking at it.
Now that you're a master at creating a student resume, how about putting your knowledge into practice. Head over to our resume builder and get the job-search going!