Writing a college resume: Tips and examples
The CV you create as a college student will play an important role in securing meaningful summer employment, get a rewarding internship or land your first full-time job after graduation. The challenge, of course, is that you are a college student so that you probably do not have much work experience that seems relevant to your goal job. However, you have coursework, activities and skills that will be attractive to an employer. A good resume presents this information clearly, efficiently and effectively.
Tips for a Winning College Resume
- Limit your CV to one page
- Keep the style simple with standard margins and a readable font
- Define your relevant experience broadly – significant class projects can be included
- If you have space, add activities and interests to paint a bigger picture of yourself
No one who hires a current college student will expect to see a long list of publications, patents and work experience. The goal of a well-designed college resume is to show that you have the skills and basic knowledge needed to succeed in your job and that you have the potential to develop into a skilled expert.
Formatting and style
Do not think about your CV. Clarity and ease of reading have much more value than a sleek, eye-catching design. If you think you spend more time working with colors and graphic design than with content, you are taking the wrong approach to your resume. An employer wants to see who you are, what you have done and what you can contribute to the company. If you are considering a resume template with three columns, a finished bar chart and your name in fuchsia letters, stop yourself and create something simple.
Some general guidelines can help you create an effective resume.
Length: Most readmissions in college should be one page long. If you can not fit everything on one page, try to cut some of the less meaningful content and sharpen the descriptions of your experiences.
The font: Both serif and sans serif fonts are good for CV. Serif fonts are such as Times New Roman and Garamond that have decorative elements added to the characters. Sans serif fonts like Calibri and Verdana do not. With that said, sans serif fonts are often more readable on small screens, and you will find the most common recommendation to go with sans serif. When it comes to font size, choose between 10.5 and 12 points.
Margins: Aim to have standard thumb margins. If you need to go a little smaller to fit everything on one page, that’s fine, but a quarter-inch resume will look unprofessional and cramped.
Headings: Each section of your CV (Experience, Education, etc.) should have a clear heading with a little extra white space above and a bold font and / or a dot or two larger than the rest of the text. You can also emphasize section headings with a horizontal line.
What to include
When thinking about what information to include in your resume, make sure you also think about what to exclude. If you are not early in your college career and had an impressive job in high school, you want to leave your credentials from high school.
In general, a resume must present your academic information (grades, relevant courses, minor, degree), relevant experience (jobs, significant projects, internships), and honors, skills and interests.
“Experience” often means jobs you have had, but you should be able to define this category more broadly. As a college student, you may have had significant projects or research experiences that were part of a class. You can use this section of your resume to draw attention to these accomplishments. You also want to define “relevant” in general. Time management and customer service skills that you have developed in a food service job may actually be relevant to a job in a museum or publishing house.
In the education section, you want to include the colleges or colleges you have attended, your major (s) and minor (s), the degree you will receive (BA, BS, BFA, etc.) and your expected degree date. You should also include your GPA if it is high and you can include selected courses if it is clearly relevant to your target job.
Praise and glory
If you won a writing award, were inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa , took up Dean’s List or received any other meaningful award, be sure to include this information in your resume. If you do not have something worth mentioning, you do not need to include this section in your resume, and if you have only one academic honor, you can list it in the “Education” section rather than a separate section focused on awards and accolades.
If you have specific professional skills that will be attractive to an employer, be sure to list them. This includes programming skills, software skills and second languages.
Activities and Interests
If you find that you still have white space on the page, consider adding a section that presents some of your more meaningful activities outside of school and other interests. This can be especially valuable if you gained leadership experience in your clubs and activities, or if you attended something similar to the college magazine where you developed your writing skills. If space allows, mentioning a couple of hobbies or interests can help you present yourself as a three-dimensional person and provide topics for conversation during the interview.
Tips for College Resume Writing
The best CVs are clear, concise and engaging. To achieve this result, make sure you follow these suggestions:
- Edit carefully. One mistake is for many in a resume. If the document you are using to get a job is mistaken, tell your potential employer that you are not detail-oriented and that you are likely to produce sub-par work. Make sure your resume does not have any errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, style or formatting.
- Focus on verbs. Verbs represent action, so place them first in your descriptions and use them to show what you have done. “Managed Two Work Students” will be much more engaging and effective than “Two Work Students Studied Under Me.” For example, each item in this bulleted list begins with a verb.
- Emphasize your skills. You may not have much work experience yet, but you do have skills. If you are very proficient with Microsoft Office software, be sure to include this information. You should definitely include knowledge of programming languages or special software. If you have gained experience in leadership through campus clubs, include that information and you will want to pay attention to your writing skills if you are strong on that front.
Examples of college resumes
This example shows the type of important information you want to include in your resume.
123 Main Street
Collegetown, NY 10023
Ivy Tower College, Collegetown, NY
Biology Research Assistant, September 2020-May 2021
- Set up and manage equipment for PCR genotyping of bacteria
- Propagated and maintained bacterial cultures for genome studies
- Did a literature review of bacterial infections in large pets
Upstate Agricultural Laboratories
Summer Practice, June-August 2020
- Collected oral and rectal swabs from different cattle
- Prepared agar medium for bacterial cultures
- Assisted in PCR genotyping of bacterial samples
Ivy Tower College, Collegetown, NY
Bachelor of Science in Biology
Minor in Chemistry and Writing
Coursework Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Pathogenesis Lab, Genetic Systems, Immunobiology
Expected Graduation: May 2021
AWARDS & HONORS
- Beta Beta Beta National Biology Honor Society
- Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society
- Winner, Hopkins Award for Expository Writing
- Masters Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint; Adobe InDesign and PhotoShop
- Strong English editing skills
- Conversational German knowledge
ACTIVITIES & INTERESTS
- Senior Editor, The Ivy Tower Herald , 2019-nu
- Active member, students for social justice, 2018-now
- Avid racket ball player and cookie bag