Stepping out into the professional world as a college student or fresh graduate can seem difficult and confusing, with so many options on the path to a good job. Fear not! We're here to help with one of the most important tools you need for an easy, confidence-boosting start — your college student resume.
Resume.io is here to help with job-winning resources for success. That includes more than 300 occupation-specific writing guides and corresponding resume examples , plus field-tested templates and builder tools to help you create both resumes and cover letters.
You can give yourself a winning edge with the right methods for creating an awesome college resume. You might actually get a dream job right out of the gate, with a little luck and a toolbox of insights. That’s precisely the purpose of this college student resume example and writing guide.
This writing guide, backed by college student resume examples, will cover the following topics:
- How to create an exceptional college student resume that sets you apart from other applicants
- Precautions to ensure your resume bypasses the automated screening technology that eliminates countless other applications before they ever have a chance to be seen
- Choosing the best resume format for a college student
- Optimizing each resume section with customized content reflecting your background and goals: summary, education, experience and skills
- Professional layout, design and formatting tips for eye-catching impact, readability and technical compatibility.
Let's get started!
How to write a college student resume
Lack of work experience is what usually makes student or graduate resumes inherently different from most others. But you can still build a strong professional profile to impress anyone!
Generally, a college student resume should be structured to include the following sections:
- Resume header
- The resume summary (sometimes called profile or personal statement)
- The education section
- The employment history (or experience section)
- The resume skills section
- Pay special attention to the key college student resume sections: summary, education, experience and skills.
- Include and organize your resume sections based on priority and job relevance.
- Apply layout/design and formatting principles that offset the text-dense sections with white space and graphic elements for ease of readability.
- Create sections in your college resume arbitrarily without research and careful consideration.
- Bloat low-priority optional sections (such as hobbies) to steal space from the key categories.
- Overload readers with streams of unbroken text.
- Go beyond one page for a student resume.
Keywords and ATS
Automated recruiting technology is a reality in today's job market and hiring practices. You'll need to understand the nature of applicant tracking systems (ATS) to pass this technical barrier to getting an awesome position.
ATS software is designed to help recruiters and hiring managers sort through hundreds of resumes. This is done by automatically processing, analyzing and scoring your resume based on keywords. As a result, certain vital sections of your resume will require extra attention. Don't worry ... it's not as hard as it seems. We've got you covered!
According to Jobscan, 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS systems. In smaller businesses, the percentage isn't as large, but still quite sizable. Understanding that your resume will first be viewed by automated software before any human eyes see it is critically important.
Optimizing for keywords
Keywords are essential if your resume is being submitted online through an automated system, website or to any large employer. They greatly increase the chances that your resume will reach an actual human specialist, rather than being lost in software limbo.
How do you choose the correct keywords? It's much simpler than it seems.
Method #1: Analyze the job description.
The terms that describe job qualifications and requirements are often the same ones that the ATS searches for when processing your resume. So pay attention to what’s obvious and give yourself an easy advantage. Stay consistent with the employers' terminology in your resume wording.
U.S. survey results show that in general, 75% of resumes are never seen by human eyes. Automated screening technology can become a resume black hole. If you're sending your resume through an ATS channel, keywords may be the deciding factor whether a recruiter will actually get to see it.
U.S. survey results show that in general, 75% of resumes are never seen by human eyes. Automated screening technology can become a resume black hole. If you're sending your resume through an ATS channel, keywords may be the deciding factor whether a recruiter will actually get to see it
Method #2: Research the industry and the employer's website.
Familiarizing yourself as much as you can with your future employer can be a huge benefit. Not only will you understand more clearly what the potential job will be like, you'll also get a sample of the language used by the company.
For instance, suppose you are applying for a job in education and are undertaking some general research as a possible source of keywords. Take a look at some of our education resume examples for ideas. Even an all-purpose source like this might provide useful statistics or direction for deeper research.
Choosing the best resume format for a college student
The most commonly used chronological resume format is designed as a straightforward way for job candidates to organize their experience and qualifications below employer headings and dates, in order from most recent to earliest. But for college students or recent graduates who lack work experience, other resume formats may be more suitable.
Like every consideration when preparing your resume, the format you choose should depend on the type of job and industry, and how best to present yourself as an ideal match.
In cases where specialized knowledge and skills are just as important as where you have worked until now — if not more so — a functional resume may be your best bet. It offers greater flexibility to emphasize your most relevant strengths up front in a section labelled “Experience.”
A hybrid, or combination, resume format offers even more versatility. Job seekers can integrate chronological and functional elements in the most applicable manner, and perhaps even put their education section higher up on the page.
Other resume examples
For more ideas and inspiration, check out these writing guides and resume examples from the related education category:
- Early Childhood Educator resume sample
- High School Student resume sample
- Academic Librarian resume sample
- Health Educator resume sample
- ESL Teacher resume sample
- Tutor resume sample
- Teacher Assistant resume sample
- Substitute Teacher resume sample
- Student resume sample
- Middle School Teacher resume sample
- Elementary School Teacher resume sample
- College Professor resume sample
- Internship resume sample
- High School Teacher resume sample
- Academic Tutor resume sample
- College Admissions resume sample
- Teacher resume sample
- Academic resume sample
Never underestimate the importance of a distinctive resume header to set yourself apart from other candidates. An eye-pleasing header design gets your resume noticed for the right reason. Not only does it contribute to the document’s overall reader-friendliness, but also readily identifies who you are and how you can be contacted for an interview.
Resume summary example: energy and determination
Rarely does a college student or new graduate have much to showcase in the way of rich work experience. But what you can have is a college student resume that paints a picture of a determined, positive and productive personality. This is what your summary is for. It's your personal story. In fact, it may be your best chance to stand out from hundreds of other applicants, including college students with similar educational backgrounds.
So make sure not to squander this valuable opportunity by merely copying and pasting a block of generic text. Instead, catch the recruiter's eye off the top, in the very first line of your resume summary. Show that you've done your homework and that you have what it takes to succeed.
Basic rules and tips
The whole point of the resume summary is to project a certain character and image, which is relatively easy to do in this more flexible freeform resume section. Since we're dealing with first impressions and perceptions, that image needs to be purposefully crafted. Here are some examples of possible content:
- Describe the personal qualities you think are appropriate for the industry and position. Inspire the future employer's confidence that you're a good fit for the job.
- Use action verbs and energetic, positive language. Come across as an upbeat, vibrant, productive person who will be a joy to work with and employ.
- Sprinkle in one or two of the most valuable skills you bring to this job. For example, CRM software knowledge for an office manager job could be a crucial advantage.
- Mention one or two aspects of your work / life experience that show you are productive and determined.
Eye-tracking tests have shown that recruiters take around six or seven seconds to decide if they should move on to the next resume. This is why it's important for your resume summary to be creative, positive and energetic.
What does a summary look like? The most common type of summary is also the one we recommend as the default for any job applicant with some work experience.
Here is a resume summary example for a college student with teacher's assistant experience, which you can customize:
Enthusiastic and dedicated college student with experience teaching and supporting elementary level classrooms in multiple schools. Highly adaptable professional with experience working with students of different backgrounds and learning needs. Adept in common elementary classroom procedures, and able to adapt to changing circumstances. Highly dedicated to supporting all aspects of student learning and overall well-being, by being the best possible support to the head teacher.
Resume summary for a college student with no experience
If you have no experience, your summary can be a goal statement — perhaps a bit more imaginative but still relevant and focused. Just aim for a general description combining a variety of past projects, personal qualities and life experiences.
Remember, no employer is expecting to see a 10-year work summary on your college student resume. Concentrate on projecting a positive, productive image to make a strong first impression.
Below is a goal statement-style resume summary for a college student seeking a customer service job. Be sure to check out the customer service resume writing guide as well — this is a great career-starter field .
You can find a resume goal statement example below for a college student without experience.
Young professional with great interpersonal skills, some light experience in service jobs and basic customer-business interactions. Freshly graduated, but with existing skills from part-time work, social projects, college initiatives and numerous extracurricular activities. Determined to be an asset to any customer service team by providing positive experiences and impressions for clients. Possess certificates from acting classes, conflict resolution seminars. Familiar with CRM systems, confident PC user.
College student resume education example: an academic profile
The education section is where differences are usually most apparent between the resume of a college student and someone already in the workforce. Instead of an employment history section, which takes precedence in the latter instance, a college student's life experience is split between two sections: (general) experience and education.
According to the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, 43% of full-time undergraduate students and 81% of part-time college students were employed in 2018. Many companies are looking for college students for entry-level or part time work, so it's completely normal to show your academic profile and achievements.
Include academic achievements and milestones below the college and degree, just as an experienced job applicant would describe work-related accomplishments in the employment history section.
Use action verbs — words that convey movement and energy — to write descriptive statements in your education section. Since these entries are substituting for a "duties and achievements" type summary, you need to use the same approach as more seasoned professionals use for their work experience descriptions.
Present scores, numbers and other samples of quantified results. Do you have a high GPA — maybe above 3.5? Mention that. It's going to become less relevant after you’ve gained a few years of job experience. But for now, it's a great demonstration of your success as a college student, and the main way for a hiring manager company to assess your qualifications.
Below is an education section from a college student resume example.
- 2001-2005 University of Vermont, Associate’s of Communications Burlington, VT - 3.8 GPA - Working towards a Public Communications degree
- 1995-1999 Andover school, High School Diploma Andover, MA
Resume experience sample: the secret advantage
Many college students and new graduates simply give up on this resume section. Without a history of employment , many job seekers don't see the point. You do, however.
So let's look at how this resume section can give you an edge by reflecting your life experience and your vibrant, productive personality.
- Internship experience. This is one of the most impressive substitutes for "full" employment experience. Recruiters pay special attention to this when considering student or graduate resumes.
- Summer / temp jobs. Experience as a waitress, clerk or nanny counts for more than you might think in terms of transferable skills. Courtesy, patience, discipline, dependability, willingness to work long hours are just a few examples.
- Social initiatives / volunteer work. These are almost always impressive on a college student resume. Volunteering demonstrates altruistic traits and a cooperative team spirit.
- Self-directed or community projects. Cite examples of commitments and collaborations that extended from your personal interests and talents.
According to studies done by the American Association of University Professors, the "ideal" work time for college students is 10 to 15 hours a week. Surveys have shown that working less or more actually decreases your chances of staying in college. This trend shows that the competition for part-time work is increasing in the college environment.
Statistics from the Department of Education show that students who work 12 hours per week or less actually have stronger grades, perhaps because working forces them to have better discipline and time management skills.
Below is a resume example for a college student with experience as a teacher's assistant.
- Served as a classroom assistant, helping the head teacher with all tasks relating to general instruction and classroom maintenance.
- Collaborated with special education teachers to determine appropriate actions and discourse for applicable students.
- Worked to create and maintain a clean, welcoming, and beneficial physical classroom environment on a daily basis.
- Utilized various classroom management techniques and strived to create the most calm and peaceful classroom environment possible.
CV skills example: the tools for the job
The skills section of a college student CV should be defined by the job you're looking to attain. Even at this early stage of life, job seekers often have more relevant skills and professional qualities than they give themselves credit for. The trick is to choose and describe them correctly on your CV.
Step 1: Create a master list
The master list is a free-form document — electronic or or even a piece of paper — where you write down every skill and quality you can think of. Keep your master list handy for reference whenever a new job opportunity arises. Grab it for easy cherry-picking to tailor each new version of your specific resume to the job application.
Step 2: Use industry knowledge
This depends heavily on what job you're seeking and for what purpose. As a college student there are typically two possibilities. One is a temp job to pay the bills and acquire experience. The other is more farsighted — an internship or entry-level position in a job related to your degree or education focus.
Make sure to understand the difference between hard skills and soft skills and how to assess their relative importance to specific jobs and employers. Hard skills are pragmatic tools used in daily duties (for instance, computer skills or math aptitude) while soft skills relate to social interactions, self-management, teamwork and so on.
Step 3: Analyze the job description
Once you've found an actual job application or opportunity, it's time to tailor your resume and skills section to the job listing. We've talked about keywords already, and the point of this step is to satisfy both the hiring specialist and the ATS. Pay attention to the skills terminology used in the job description and make sure your skills outline matches the same wording if possible. This may seem trivial but may become the difference between getting a job interview or the actual job, and being filtered out by a bot.
Check out a college student resume sample for the skills section below.
- Mathematical Skills
- Behavioral Management Techniques
- Lesson Planning
- Child Supervision
- Good communication skills
Resume layout, design and formatting: looks matter
Layout, design and formatting considerations are vitally important for a successful college student resume or CV . There are two main reasons for this: visual perception by humans and processing compatibility with automated systems.
Make it easier on recruiters. Employ chunking, which makes the text more readable and digestible by breaking it into bite-sized pieces. This is achieved through the use of white space and graphical elements such as boxes, lines, images and other formatting that improves legibility.
Recruiters are likely to pay a lot more attention to your resume if you apply a visually attractive, suitably-formatted template based on research-backed design principles. This is where Resume.io can help you shine above other job applicants. Our CV templates are created by professionals and field-tested with hiring specialists.
Faulty formatting is the reason 21% of all resumes in the U.S. run into problems or are filtered out by the ATS. Confusing or unreadable layouts, charts or images are common reasons. Avoid formatting problems with our tested templates!
Which is the best resume template to use?
Resume.io's templates come in four categories: modern
. Each offers a range of unique styles appropriate for different jobs, employers and industries. Want to apply for an internship at a prominent consulting company? Try the professional category. Looking for a job as a starting graphic designer
? Go for creative.
Or simply go to the top of this example to check out the college student resume sample we used there and make it your own by using our builder tool .
Think carefully and evaluate what your template choice says about you as a candidate. The same brightly colored template that showcases your creative flair for an education position might come across as too casual or unprofessional for a respected medical institution job.
Key takeaways for a college student resume
- You can get an awesome job as a college student. Your college student resume is a hugely important instrument for that.
- The summary section provides the best opportunity for your college student resume to stand out and show personality.
- The education section is a focal point for most college student resumes.
- Lack of professional experience is not a deal breaker.
- Your resume skills section will be defined by the job you are pursuing within a specific industry. Tailor it to the job description and your knowledge of the industry.
- Formatting and keywords are vital to pass the ATS screening software.
- Using a professionally designed template makes the process of college resume creation much easier and helps avoid hidden technical pitfalls.