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Resume Writing for College Students

In February, I volunteered at Southern Methodist University to help work with students on their resumes (Dallas Morning News article on event).  As a MBA alum, it was fun to reconnect with that world. I even worked with the football team’s starting running back.  Throughout all my conversations with the students, I had flashbacks of being in their shoes and having the challenge of presenting myself well in a few pages with “limited” work experience.

The summary of my advice to these students is presented in this blog post.  Hopefully, many college students will benefit from the experience.  I have broken down the observations and advice into different elements of the resume.

Work experience: 

  • It is essential to present your work experience in terms of RESULTS.  Using bullet items like “attended meetings” or “did research on companies” does not say much for your efforts.  Instead, think of the result:  “Championed research project that allowed company to choose between two $2M options for software vendors resulting in a $200,000 cost savings.”
  • Students should include large projects they worked on for professors, even if unpaid.  Treat the opportunity as another job.
  • Be sure to use titles for each job–even Sales Associate or Intern.  You need to make the experience sound important.
  • Each job should be listed with the Company, Location, Dates on first line and title on second line (all in bold) followed by bullets of the responsibilities, activities and results.  I prefer inserting the dates using a right justified tab.

Activities

  • Do not leave key details out.  Students who are a part of a group that does volunteer work should list some of that activity.  Reading to underprivledged children or raising money for causes shows how one cares about others and the community as a whole.
  • Do not forget to include leadership roles.  Treat these as work experiences, too.  Include achievements in these roles.

Summary vs. Objective

  • Companies like reading a quick summary about you.  Your “objective” can be embedded in the summary statement.  The generic objective of “student looking to grow within a progressive company” is overused and obvious.  Instead consider adding more about you: “A proven leader with experience and strong education in Finance who seeks a full-time position focused on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.”
  • Students may have to customize this Summary for many different companies if the opportunities are different.  Providing a very specific statement connects one to the job more effectively.

Skill set:

  • Within the Summary, students should embed the key skills they have mastered.
  • A simple way to do this is to end the Summary paragraph with the phrase, “Skill set includes:” followed by two or three columns of these skills.
  • The skills listed should be pertinent to the job (programming languages, Microsoft tools, specialized programs, drafting, etc.).  Listing communication, presentation, self-motivated and others like this is too generic and does not differentiate you from others.

Format

  • Do not be afraid of a two-page resume versus one page.  As long as you have real content, it is acceptable to go beyond the first page.
  • Use the address you want correspondence to go to.  Having two addresses begs the question, “Which one do we send the offer letter to?”
  • Use fonts that you see in the company’s materials.  Formal font is Times.  Informal is Arial.  Keep it around size 12.
  • Stay away from using a lot of lines and making the resume too busy-looking.  By bolding the header sections (Summary, Experience, Education, Activities and Honors) plus each job header (company, title), along with adequate spacing between each section, lines will not be necessary.
  • Use page breaks if you think the first line of the next page might float to bottom of the previous page when printed on someone else’s printer.  Email your resume to others to make sure formatting does not change depending on who opens the Word file.

Miscellaneous

  • Be concise.  Extra words in descriptions does not help make it sound better.  Good content does.
  • Stay away from acronyms and terms that people do not typically know.  Same goes for jargon and slang.
  • There is no need to add references on the resume.  You should have a separate sheet of references for when they request it.  And they all know, “references are available upon request.”
  • Avoid too much personal information.  Birth dates, personal photos, hobbies, marital status, personal health and affiliations are usually not important to the job you are applying.
  • Use action words when describing what you have done.  Examples include coordinated, assisted, managed, planned, designed and implemented.
  • Proofread your document several times.  Walk away and come back to it later and proofread it again.   Ask someone else to review your resume.  See if these readers understand the information you are trying to convey.

A little bit of extra effort goes a long way when it comes to resume writing.  This is the first impression.  There is no accompaniment of a sparkling personality.  Although the content is the key, a poor presentation can distract the reader and cause them to move on to the next resume in the pile.  Just like showing up to an interview in a suit, you want your resume to be “well-dressed,” too.

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March 15, 2009 - Posted by | Careers, Job Search, New Grads, Resume Writing

4 Comments »

  1. […] Resume Writing for College Students […]

    Pingback by Resume Writers: Keep Your Plate Out of the Boiler « Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. I read out your all the resumes writing tips for student and feeling nice.

    Thanks to share with us.

    Comment by sample cv  | September 30, 2011 | Reply

  3. This would be a nice article to post on my resume resource website. http://www.greatresumetemplate.biz Let me know if this is possible.

    Comment by great resume template | September 9, 2012 | Reply

    • You can reference this article on your website by providing a link to this article, if you wish.

      Comment by jefflipschultz | September 9, 2012 | Reply


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