A Super Effective College Student Resume Sample and Tips
A great cover letter or in-person meeting will get you noticed but ultimately it’s the resume that determines if you get the interview at the end of the day. However, putting together a solid resume is tough when you don’t have much work experience or guidance on how to get started. To save you hours of searching Google and waiting in line at the career center, the Team at MindSumo has put together an super effective sample college student resume and tips on how to write each resume section.
Do you really need to spend that much time on a resume? Isn’t it just a list of things you did in college that no one really pays attention to anyways? Nope. Research shows that only one interview is granted for every 200 resumes received by the average employer so the odds are already stacked against you. With so many resumes to review, recruiting and hiring managers spend (on average) just six seconds glancing at a resume. That means if your resume doesn’t stand out right away, you can kiss that job goodbye.
So how do you tell the difference between an average resume and a very effective one that lands the interview? We’ll show you both. First, this is what a typical college student resume looks like. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably time for a resume makeover.
On the flip side, what does a really good college student resume look like? Here is the same college student resume sample from above after we handed it over to our resident resume expert, John, who has worked on hundreds of resumes as an MBA Admissions Consultant at Critical Square.
This version of the resume is much more powerful and engaging with the level of detail and language that it provides. It both captures the reader’s attention and indicates that the applicant is qualified for the job. Use this cover letter sample as the foundation to start your resume and then check out the tips below on crafting your content.
Now we are going to break down the resume into its five components and tell you exactly what you need to do in each section. Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to landing that job interview.
Section 1: Contact Information
This section is real simple. The hiring manager needs to know your name, where you live, and how to contact you. Anything else is unnecessary and a waste of space.
Section 2: Summary Statement
Oftentimes the most overlooked section of the resume, yet it is most important because it is the first thing the hiring manager will see. Nail this first impression and the hiring manager will likely keep reading your resume. Failing to wow here will have the hiring manager moving onto the next resume.
Approach this section as a two to three sentence personal ad about yourself by make it interesting, compelling, and unique. The worst thing you can do here is copy bullets from the experience section of your resume and drop in a generic statement about yourself.
What you should do: Write powerful, but honest, copy that makes the reader immediately perk up and realize that you are someone special. Remember this is your ad so don’t be afraid to go Mad Men on it.
- Make it Unique – Avoid cliches, industry buzzwords and tired language that you see on many resumes. It should be 100% unique to you
- Make it Passionate – Use vivid language that demonstrates your dedication to the field or industry and conveys passion and commitment
- Make it Brief – This is your personal tagline – a snapshot of your personal brand not your auto-biography. Make every word count
Great example: “I am an extraordinarily detailed oriented individual with a track record of delivering high-quality client deliverables under extreme deadlines and strong financial decision-making abilities. I want to work for the most respected accounting firm in the industry because I value the integrity of providing accurate financial numbers and best in class service to clients.”
What not to do: Use fluffy phrases that have no meaning, are too broad, or lack meaning. Hiring managers have a strong BS detector.
Bad example: “I am a hardworking individual that would excel at a customer service position in the hospitality or entertainment industry. Working at this company will allow me to enhance my potential and gain experience to solve new challenges.”
Section 3: Education
The education section doesn’t get much too attention from the hiring manager so there is no need to get too crazy here. Like your contact information section simply state your school, year of graduation, major, and any education related accomplishments.
Section 4: Experience
Ah, now we get to the meat of your resume. The experience section of your resume is the second most important part of your resume and the easiest section to get wrong. Your goal with this section is to tell a story with each bullet. These bullets should capture the significance of your actions and the quantifiable results that came from those actions. Detail is good here.
Each employer that you have on your resume should contain the following information: Company, job title, dates employed, and location.
To brainstorm which bullets to include under each experience go through the following exercise: think about your challenges you faced, how you overcame obstacles, the results of your initiatives and the value you brought to that company. You can also include relevant awards for accomplishments.
Once you have compiled the job information, it’s time to structure each of your bullets. The biggest mistake committed on resumes is listing responsibilities instead of the actions taken by the individual while in his or her role. This comes off as sounding like you are reading a job ad not someone’s personal highlight reel.
Here’s an example of what we mean. Many resumes will contain lines that sound like: “managed multiple suppliers of a project to ensure on-time completion”. This doesn’t tell me much about what you actually did in your job. Instead, try writing it this way: “Created and communicated a list of guidelines for the 10 suppliers under management which led to 100% on-time completion of projects.” The actions are much clearer, and the reader can easily see the initiative taken by the student and results.
Structuring your bullets the right way is also important. Always lead with action taken and then speak to the results and impact that your action had. Don’t forget to use these two things either:
Powerful adjectives and vivid language – For instance, rather than saying “conducted client meetings” consider instead “designed effective and efficient training initiatives for priority clients.” Both sentences explain the same thing but the adjectives bring your actions to life.
Lots of metrics – Always try to quantify your actions and results. Don’t just tell me what you did. Tell me how many times you did something, how many people it impacted, how much money you saved, or how much something was improved. It’s okay to estimate these numbers if you can’t get this information directly. Make it a reasonable estimate and absolutely no lying here.
An example of a beautiful bullet: “Developed new processes and sales materials that enabled 10 senior sales associates to exceed their monthly quotas by over 50%”. Write that instead of something like “supported regional sales team by creating sales materials”
Section 5: Activities
Approach your activities section the same way you approach the experience section. Your school extracurriculars should be considered jobs in their own right. Make sure you are giving yourself credit for all the work that goes into operating a student club, sports team, or volunteer event. If your job experience section is looking a bit empty you can certainly drop activities. Or might we recommend adding some MindSumo challenge experience (see how to do that here).
The formula for the bullets stays the same: write actions and results that are loaded with adjectives, language, and metrics.
We hope the college student resume sample and tips that we have provided have changed the way you think about your resume. If you incorporate these changes into your resume, you will be well on your way to creating something that is memorable and gets noticed. Also, don’t forget about your cover letter and check out our template.
Good luck with the recruiting process and be sure to explore all the great career tips that we have here on the MindSumo blog!