How to Develop a Great Resume as a College Student
By Limus Woods
The problem many college students have when they are first starting out is that they feel they don’t have anything to put on their resume because they haven’t had that many jobs. That’s okay. If you are just starting college, you could put down certain extracurricular activities that you were involved in (the school band or JROTC for example), things that you have volunteered for (like charity work for a local non-profit organization), or any awards you’ve received or special achievements.
Common Resume Mistakes
The number one mistake on resumes that’s made by college students are grammatical errors. What’s the employer going to think about you if there are a bunch of uncrossed T’s and un-dotted I’s all over it? Well, they will probably make the negative assumption that you don’t have good attention to detail. You will likely be submitting this document to dozens of promising jobs and a number of positions, so it’s a good idea to re-read it many times when polishing for errors.
The next biggest mistake is when folks talk about things too much or too little on their resumes. It honestly is a fine line to walk, and your balance on it is very necessary! You want to impress the employer, but you also realize that if your resume is too long-winded that the hiring boss may stop reading. This means that they may not get to that part of the resume that you really want them to see, which is a bad thing.
You have to remember that they get lots of resumes for the same position. So, your goal is to write yours in a way that allows them to scan the entire thing in just a minute or two. When you describe a past position in your resume, be brief but informative. State the job, its location, how long you worked there, and what you did normally from shift to shift in short, straight-to-the-point sentences, one or two at the most. If you can trim your resume down to just one page (maybe two if it’s really needed), then you’re on the right track. Even after doing all of that to make it easy on them, some hiring managers will still only quickly scan the first few things on your resume. This is why it is very important that you list the most recent, relevant jobs and activities first (at the top), just in case they don’t read all the way down to the bottom.
Another mistake is the word choices that many applicants make on their resumes. When you’re submitting yours to a job that you want, you need to use a lot of action verbs. For example, instead of simply saying that you worked in a particular department, you should say what you were responsible for in that department. Stating what you actually did every day instead of just saying what rank or position you held has the effect of standing out or jumping off of your resume when the employer looks over it.
Other than these few common mistakes, simply stating a good objective, being specific, and writing in the correct contact information are other things that students (and sometimes even graduates) don’t do on their resumes that you should be sure to do on yours.
Formatting Your Resume Correctly
The way that your resume looks at first sight is probably the most important thing other than the actual info that’s on the document. You always want to stand out among other applicants but it’s not a good idea to create long bullet lists containing massive amounts of info or use wild and eccentric formatting on your resume. This is so unnecessary, and will have the employer ready to end your interview before it even gets started.
One of the best formats to use is the one on Dave’s Writing Tips. He breaks it down really simply, and has one of the best and easy-to-update resume formats that you can create in minutes using Microsoft Word. This is the type of resume that employers look for, and is exactly the type that you should use. Go to the 12-minute video. I promise, this will save you countless hours of trying to figure out how to format your resume by yourself!
Now all you have to do is find a nice shirt and tie if you’re a guy or a professional looking skirt suit if you are a lady, print out multiple copies of your new professional looking resume, and make it on time to your interviews. Good luck!