Generally, students lack formal employment experience. Moreover, most academic institutions do not equip students with complete guides on the best practices for writing resumes for their first jobs. In fact, some institutions teach their students how to come up with winning professional resumes and overlook the importance of student- and entry-level resumes. Yet, the latter are important in ensuring the student enters the job market to gain relevant experience that will then feature in the professional resume.
This becomes a problem for students intending to create a resume. Given this challenge, it is important for any resume templates intended for students to highlight the section about education more prominently. Emphasizing on awards/honors, GPA scores and exemplary performances in extracurricular activities is important. As is the case with entry-level resumes, including volunteer work experience and internships is also a good idea for student resumes.
At times, some resume templates for students replace the section on work experience with major achievements or projects. The rationale behind this substitution is to demonstrate to potential employers that the skills a candidate has acquired in school can be applied in the workplace environment. The student-level resume needs to contain three major components at the very least, as elaborated in the next section.
The education, accomplishments, and references sections are the main components contained in a student-level resume. It is noteworthy that the student-level resume in this context is intended for students without any formal work experience. Students undertaking advanced courses and with relevant extensive experience should consider using professional resumes.
This is the most vital component of the student-level resume. In fact, its significance takes after that of the work experience section in the professional resume. Potential employers are likely to review the section on education first before reading other sections in the student-level resume. Therefore, including the most relevant information in the education section is paramount.
This section in the student-level resume is equivalent to the work experience section in the professional resume. Its relevance is to cover for the lack of work experience. In this section, the student should clearly and make known all their extracurricular and academic accomplishments in detail when creating his/her resume. Examples of details might include leadership opportunities, outstanding GPAs, honorary, and academic contest awards.
Despite the recommendation not to include the contacts to references in the resume, students especially those in lower education levels such as high school should have a ready list of potential or even confirmed references. Such references might include teachers, community leaders, church/temple/mosque leaders, and coaches. It is critical that the student is known to the references. The references should also be conversant with most of the achievements of the student as to be able to vouch for their suitability. In addition, the student should furnish his/her references with up-to-date information. This is in case the prospective employers or resume reviewers decide to contact such references for information about the student. It would be tantamount to failure if the reference a student gives provides inconsistent information about the student when contacted.
In most cases, people begin writing their resumes while still in high school. Understanding the basics for making a good resume at high school level is challenging especially concerning what it should contain. However, some tips can help in easing the challenges. As opposed to dedicating a work experience section in the resume, high school students should consider including a section about their major achievements. Under major achievements, the student can detail history of student jobs and engagement in student club leadership among others. In a high school level resume, the section on major achievements purposes to demonstrate to the prospective employer that inadequate job experience at early life and career stages does not constitute inability or total lack of skills.
Modesty while writing the major achievements is highly discouraged. Instead, high school students should display the extent to which their skills acquired in school are transferrable to the work environment. In other words, high school students should be keen to ‘brag’ about any accomplishment in their portfolios. Combining the major accomplishments’ portfolio with a succinct disclosure of education qualifications creates a positive impression on recruiters and potential employers.
Students at college levels that are creating a first-time resume might also find it difficult to conclude the exercise with a credible resume as the outcome. The lack of background training on constructing a student level as college student also contributes to the difficulty in creating a good resume. Although the college level student resume should contain an education section like the high school level student resume, the former should contain more details than the latter. For example, college level resumes should include GPA, list of relevant deans where this applies, and coursework.
College resume writers can add sororities or fraternities, exchange programs, internships, summer jobs, and additional work experiences. Special skills that the college student has an acquired in the course of learning including proficiency in foreign languages, computing skills, and technological adeptness. College student resumes should also substitute the section on major achievements with one about major projects. The section about major projects is the best location to explain any research or projects that the college student has completed in the course of his/her studies. Titles of theses or hints about outstanding research conducted by the college students should be included under the major projects’ section of the resume. Like all the other entry-level resumes, college level student resumes should emphasize more on the transferability of skills listed in the resume as opposed to attempting to elaborate scanty or inexistent experience.
Although there exist different ways of creating student resumes of both high school and college levels, students must not always commence from scratch all the times. Whereas the student might opt to use professional templates for developing resumes once they have adequate work experience in future, numerous websites have many resume templates that highlight the section about educational qualifications. Other template versions available online have spaces for major projects and/or achievements.
If the student does not find a suitable resume template, resume builders are another option for assisting the user to develop the resume live. Jobseekers could also peruse through libraries with varying resume templates and select the most suitable version. The suitability of a resume template is determined by each student’s educational qualifications and personal background information.
When describing temporary, part-time, summer or seasonal jobs in the student level resume, it is important that the student seeking employment views and portrays such work as testaments to his/her strong work ethic, dependability, and personal initiative. Altogether, the description of unrelated jobs should be maintained at the minimum. For instance, a student who served tables to assist in paying for college fees yet the employment s/he is applying for is web design, it is not necessary to give an account of daily responsibilities in the food service industry. Instead, outlining the most significant facets of such a student’s work experience is critical yet detail all projects that s/he engaged in tasks demonstrating determination, leadership, and drive.
While preparing to draft the initial resume, studying multiple job advertisements and announcements about internships of interest is another strategy for identifying trends of what employers seek in candidates applying for the same position one is seeking. For example, ads that underscore excellent communication skills should help the resume writer in recalling and noting down instances when such a skill manifested. This does not even have to be in a formal role. History of a part-time job in the retail sector or workplaces where one interacts with customers, communication skills are likely to have been developed on the job. Highlighting daily customer interactions in the resume is a good selling point.
When listing all these work experiences in the resume, it is important to add credibility to the list by providing the dates one was employed, the employment location, job title, and name of employer. Including a brief about all additional responsibilities a student undertook during the work period in the form of either special recognition or performance will help in demonstrating the student’s strength as an employee.
A student should also self-critique his/her resume draft by assuming the perspective of the employer. If a student is unable to assume such a perspective, giving the draft resume to your teacher, friend or even relations who are employers could assist in understanding what hiring managers are likely to see you as based on the resume. It is not harmful to describe all unpaid jobs as though they were salaried. Giving examples of challenges faced and how one overcame them during internships or volunteer positions could demonstrate leadership and problem-solving skills.
Concerning the resume length for student-level resumes, filling one A4 page could seem overwhelming. In most cases, beginner resume writers tend to be on the extremes. They either write too long or sell themselves short by exempting crucial details. Like the entry-level resume, it is probably good if student-level resume writers do not use the conventional chronological format. Instead, the functional format might be the best option. On rare occasions, highly performing students with a consistent performance record can use the combination format to demonstrate relevant expertise as time goes on. The key is to ensure that one is not too modest as to leave out pertinent details that could increase the chances of securing an employment position and not to extravagant as to exaggerate or overstate capabilities. Exaggeration is even worse because it could make the employer develop unreasonable expectations. Such unreasonable expectations when unmet could taint an applicants’ employment history with an employment termination.
Although it is more common to submit resumes and applications digitally nowadays, all hard copy resumes should be printed on one side of the paper on a standard A4 size and on portrait orientation. Legible fonts that are not fancy are preferred. Examples include Times New Roman and Arial at size 12 for the body or main resume content (education, objective/summary, and work experience). The name of the resume owner should have the biggest font size at between 16 and 18 points. The contact information could be in smaller font sizes such as 10 points. Bulleting qualifications while including relevant keywords for each position being applied for makes the most important strengths more prominent. Automatic email hyperlinks should be removed. Consistent spacing and adherence to alignment rules such as dates to the right and academic accomplishments to the left make a resume presentable.