Student Resumes Exactly What You Need To Know + FREE Tips from Experts
You’re only a student, and you need to create a resume. You’re right on the edge of the paradox of “need a job experience for a job-need a job for a job experience.”
What do you do?
Well, fret not. Sure, employment crashed during COVID for low-wage and middle-wage workers, but that doesn’t mean you have no chance for an interview. If you have a strong resume, that is.
But how do you create one as a student? What details should you include? How should you format it? How to set it apart from your 200 or so peers doing the same thing?
Hey, hey, hey, relax.
Sit back down.
We got all you need right here.
Hacking the Recruitment Process with a Strong Student Resume
The best way to reach the goal is to visualize the goal. So, if you want to hack the recruitment process and get yourself through the door, the question to ask is, what should an ideal student resume be like?
It is the first thing you need to learn—even before you think about working on the details of your objective or education section.
Why, you may ask.
Because recruiters take 6 seconds to skim through a resume and make their decision whether you’re in the “in” pile or the “thank you for time” heap.
Now wait, did the 6-second skim bum you out? Let’s burst your bubble even further. If you’re applying online, there’s a good chance your application won’t even be viewed and, in the worst-case scenario, rejected by a human.
Many businesses and agencies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to automate the initial process of screening resumes, filtering the ones that best fit their needs, and emailing rejection emails.
This means you need to fight a bot to get to the recruiter level.
The good news is you’re already here, and we have the hacks to help you get through the system.
And because there’s so much to share with you, we’ve broken down the tips into three main categories:
- Making your resume skimmable
- Getting your resume through ATS
- Miscellaneous tips from our experts
So, let’s get started!
I. How to Make Skimmable Resumes?
Here are some ways to make your resume more skimmable:
#1. Don’t justify or center text
As much as you think this might make your resume look different from the rest, it’s a bad idea as it will only decrease the readability of such an important document. There are other ways to help you stand out, and we will discuss them here. So, keep your text left-aligned, except…
#2. Align the dates and location to the right
Your headings may require many things to add, such as the name and a short description maybe. If you add the dates and location in the same line, it will clutter up the heading. To clean it up, simply align all the dates and places to the right of the document in line with the relevant heading.
#3. Use the same font throughout
Your font and font size should be the same throughout your document. Your headings are an obvious exception, and they should be a little larger than your text font.
However, don’t change your heading font to something entirely different from the text. See the two examples below:
- MS Word
- MS Excel
- MS Word
- MS Excel
Which seems more off-putting to you? If you chose the first, you’re in for a rude awakening.
A resume with the second example’s formatting is something to make any recruiter gasp and banish the file to the dark, gloomy space of the recycle bin.
You don’t want that, do you? So, save your fancy fonts for posters and whatnot, but keep them away from your resume.
#4. Use consistent formatting
Keep your resume as simple and clean as you can. This means no fancy formatting where you use tons of text boxes on your Word document. Your goal is not to demonstrate your prowess on MS Word; it’s to get a recruiter’s attention. And cluttering up your resume with various formatting styles is NOT the way to do it.
#5. Use bold, CAPS, and italicize sparingly
You might be tempted to bring focus on all your major achievements by bolding or capitalizing letters, but keep in mind this may take a turn for the worse if you use it everywhere.
Instead, choose a single item to bold and/or put in all caps and another to italicize to keep a consistent format. For example, this is okay because it follows a consistent theme in formatting:
Stanford University – Stanford, California
M.A. English 2021-present
And this is not because it’s all over the place:
STANFORD UNIVERSITY – Stanford, California
M.A. English 2021-present
II. How to Get through ATS?
One of the biggest tips to get yourself through ATS is to keep a clean resume. So, the system doesn’t incorrectly flag you as irrelevant. Since we’ve already covered that in the section above, here are other tips for you:
#1. Include action words/keywords
We’ve found the Harvard list of action verbs to be the best and the most comprehensive list of keywords for any student resume. Go through the list and see if you can update any of your text using these keywords.
These action words emphasize the on-job skills recruiters look for—and might program their ATS to search for—in resumes. And even if either isn’t the case, these keywords bring authority to your resume, making it stand apart from any other.
#2. Include words from the job posting
While it isn’t often recommended to change your resume every time you apply for a company, it’s worth a shot if you find certain terms on the job posting missing on your resume and include them.
For example, the job role in the post description might say something like “must analyze data for…”. In this case, “analyze” is a specific term, and if you haven’t included it in your resume yet, it’s better to do so if you have any relevant experience.
III. How to Make Your Resume Stand Out—Best Tips from Our Expert
Let’s say you follow all the tips above and have created a well-formatted document with the right words. What more do you need? Turns out, there’s more you can do to stand out from the crowd.
So, our experts have compiled this list for our dear readers:
#1. Numbers, numbers, numbers!
One way to bulk up your resume is to add numbers wherever you can. This will help you quantify your experiences and give recruiters a sense you’re not all talk.
For example, if you held an internship at a digital marketing agency for a social media expert, you could convert these bland points:
- Managed social media accounts for the company
- Published multiple social media posts every week
- Managed comments for engagement
- Managed 4 channels of social media accounts for the company, namely, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- Created content for, designed, and published 20+ social media posts per week
- Increased engagement by 15% through active responses
See the difference?
The recruiters will, too.
#2. Highlight your education section
You probably won’t have much experience to add to your resume as a student. And if you haven’t had an internship yet either, it limits you further to what you can add to the content.
A good way to overcome this is to highlight your education section.
Include any projects you’ve worked on or any extra-curricular activities you’ve been a part of, and use the same bulleting tip we’ve mentioned above to give your experience authority.
#3. Level up your skills
It’s quite understandable you may not yet have numerous awards and certifications to add to your resume, but there’s no reason you can’t level up and add names of top-tier companies.
Enroll in any relevant Coursera training offered by any company you’d like to feature on your resume. If you’re a student from a Coursera-partnered institution, you might even get the priced courses for free!
Apart from Coursera, other great platforms like edX, FutureLearn, Udemy, and more offer similar opportunities.
Some companies offer amazing courses, too. For example, if you’re studying business or marketing (or both), HubSpot has some excellent, 100% free online courses you can use. Google also offers free training and certifications for its products.
You don’t need to focus on getting too many certifications, either. One or two relevant to your studies will give your resume a strong boost and signify you’re a go-getter to the recruiter.
#4. Use the services of a professional
If you want to apply for internships or jobs and don’t have the time to build your resume bit by bit, you can choose professionals. These experts create exceptional resumes as part of their job and would be great at using the right words and techniques to build a professional document for you using your basic data.
And while you may be able to create a good resume on your own, you might still need the eye of an expert to check for errors. You certainly don’t want to get rejected for an enviable position just because you used lead instead of led.
About the Author!
Zohaib Hassan is a computer science graduate and IT professional as well as one of the top-rated remote writers at Creative Writing Experts. He loves writing, technology, digital marketing, adventure, food, and movies/web series.