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Resumes for College Students: What You Need To Know

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If your college work experience was anything like mine, then your part-time jobs probably involved uniforms, cash registers, or both. Those jobs got me the money I needed during school so I’m definitely not poking fun, but jobs of that nature typically don’t require resumes. Whether you’re looking for an unpaid summer internship or prepping for your full-fledged post-graduation job search, you can only put off the inevitable for so long: at some point, you’re going to need a resume.

While it might be true that some people work better under pressure, procrastination and college resumes are two things that don’t mix well. Your resume is a professional reflection of you, and a well-written resume takes time and effort. Waiting until the last minute to create your resume may give potential employers the impression that you’re sloppy and unorganized.

What’s a Resume, Anyway?

Think of your resume as a marketing tool—if you’re after a coveted position that hundreds of other new grads would also love, a resume that makes you stand out from the crowd may be your best shot at the job. That’s because a resume is often the first thing that potential employers see … and you usually don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

A resume is basically a written description of educational background and relevant job experience that acts as an advertisement of your skills. For most college students, the scariest aspect of that entire sentence were the words relevant experience and I definitely understand your anxiety. I worked at a theme park and a grocery store during college, neither of which had anything to do with my job search after college, but there are ways to incorporate almost anything into your resume if you get creative.

Employers realize that new college graduates applying for entry-level positions usually don’t have much work experience under their belt, but group projects, internships, and volunteer work can help showcase any experiences that are relevant to the job. Club memberships may also help you out — if you participated in student government or were the president of your fraternity, you definitely have leadership skills.

Resume Essentials

If you aren’t quite sure where to begin, you may want to look for sample resume templates online or visit your school’s career services center for assistance. No two resumes are the same, but your resume should be able to provide answers to certain questions: contact information, job objective, education, employment history, and skills.

Contact Information: The header of your resume should contain your name, address, telephone number, and email address. If you’re still in college but graduating soon, you should include your local school address as well as your permanent address. Be sure that your voicemail message clearly states your name and phone number in case a prospective employer calls you while you’re in class— you don’t want them to think they’ve dialed the wrong number. Your email address should be one you check regularly.

Job Objective: A job objective is an optional feature of resumes, but it can help show employers what you’re after and what type of work you’d prefer. If you’re applying for jobs in various fields, you’ll need to have various copies of your resume with job-specific objectives. It’s not a wise idea to state your objective as “A full-time, entry-level position in computer engineering, graphic design, or management.”

Education: Your resume should include information about your education. List your degree, such as where you went to school and when you graduated, and your major and your minor (if you have one). If you’re still in college, list your anticipated graduation date. You can also include any honors or awards that you’ve won, but only include your GPA if it is 3.0 or higher.

Employment History: While most college students don’t have any job experience related to the positions they’re applying for after graduation, listing jobs you’ve had in chronological order and describing them as briefly as possible is recommended. Describe the positions you’ve held, the names and locations of your employers, and the dates you worked there. You may want to include internships or volunteer work in this section.

Skills: You can also list any skills on your resume that are appropriate for the job you’re trying to land, and it’s usually desirable to include information about technology or computer programs that you’re familiar with.

Most employers request resumes to be sent electronically, which means that you will have to attach your resume to an email. Unless the employer specifies otherwise, you should be safe to send your resume as a MS Word document. Once you begin going on job interviews, you’re going to want paper copies of your resume to take with you. Be sure to have them professionally printed on high quality paper.

Resumes are always a work in progress. Once you get a job after college, be sure to periodically update your resume to reflect your new place of employment and new skills and experiences. Should you lose your job or wind up needing a change, you won’t want to send out the same resume that you used before your graduation.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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