College Resume - Examples & Writing Guides for 2020

November 17
8 min read

You’ve just sat down to write a college student resume.

The goal:

An A+ resume that converts.

Whether you need a part-time job to cover your bills or a college internship for more experience, we are here to help.

This guide will take you through a simple step-by-step process of creating a college student resume. 

Specifically, we will cover:

  • An example of a finished college resume that works
  • How to write a college resume that’ll fill up your interview diary
  • How to make your college resume stand out [with top tips & tricks]

For some added inspiration, here’s a college student resume example, created with our very own resume builder:

college resume example

The above example gets serious results, and yours will too. Simply follow the steps below.

How to Format a College Student Resume

The first step when creating any resume is to pick the best resume format.

Formatting has a number of benefits, but mostly it allows the hiring manager to read your resume with ease.

The most common resume format for a college student is “functional” or “skill-based”, which allows the hiring manager to immediately see the benefits in hiring you. We recommend college students starting with this format.

Students will usually have stronger skills than their work history, which makes the functional resume a good choice. It’s also ideal for those who have gaps in their employment history.

Now that you have the best format, you need to organize your resume layout.

Use a College Student Resume Template

Before you go ahead with crafting your college student resume, you may want to use a college student resume template.

A resume that is neat and orderly will be a breeze for recruiters to read.

Oh, and it’s the best way to prevent formatting issues.

What to Include in a College Student Resume

The main sections in a college student resume are:

  • Contact Information
  • Skills
  • Education
  • Volunteer Experience
  • Extracurricular Activities

Want to go a step further? You can also add these optional sections:

  • Awards & Certification
  • Personal Projects
  • Languages
  • Interests & Hobbies

But what should you write for each of these sections? Read on to find out.

Want to know more about resume sections? View our guide on What to Put on a Resume.

How to Correctly Display your Contact Information

Now, this section doesn’t require flair, but it must be factually correct. Messing up the contact section can mean the recruiter can’t contact you – oops! 

The contact information section must include:

  • Full Name
  • Title - In this case, “College Student” or “High-school Graduate”
  • Phone Number – Proofread this multiple times
  • Email Address – Use a professional email address (firstname.lastname@gmail.com), not one from your childhood (baileythehamster@gmail.com).
  • (Optional) Location - Applying for a job abroad? Mention your location.

Correct Example:

  • Abigail Pearce - College Student. 101-358-6095. abigailpearce@gmail.com

Incorrect Example:

  • Abigail Pearce - Student. 101-358-6095. abbynottooshabby@gmail.com

How to Write a College Student Resume Summary or Objective

So, this is a job you really want.

This may even be a job you NEED.

However, your competition is fierce. 

And with so much competition, you need to convince the hiring manager within the first few sentences.

To do this, use a resume summary or objective.

These are short paragraphs that go on top of your resume, just under your contact information. They give an overview of your entire resume.

But what is the difference between the two sections?

A resume summary is a 2-4 sentence summary of your professional experiences and achievements.

College Student Resume Summary Example:

Dependable marketing sophomore with 1 year part-time experience in a marketing internship to oversee marketing campaigns that maximise profit. Experience includes PPC campaigns, SMM, web design, brand development, and more.

A resume objective is a 2-4 sentence snapshot of what you want to achieve professionally.

College Student Resume Objective Example

Current undergraduate sophomore in marketing with hundreds of classroom hours in marketing and sales related courses. Passionate about maximizing revenue with effective marketing campaigns. Experience includes creating campaigns for my own personal projects in my first term at College X. Skilled in WordPress, Facebook Ads Manager, Photoshop, ClickFunnels, and more.

So, which one is best, summary or objective?

Those with some work experience should go with a resume summary. On the other hand, those who seriously lack work experience should go with a resume objective.

How to Make Your College Student Work Experience Stand Out

Recruiters like to feel confident that you can do the job. There is no easier way to do this than to list your work experience.

Here’s the best way to structure your work experience section:

  • Position name
  • Company Name
  • Dates
  • Responsibilities & Achievements

Here’s an example:

Waitress

The Pizza Cabin

03/2019 - 01/2020

  • Served food to 40+ people a night and multiple tables at a time.
  • Educated customers on menu items and daily specials.
  • Received 98% positive customer feedback.
  • Engaged customers in a personal, yet professional manner, which helped me to win “Employee of the Month” 4 times.

To separate your resume from the competition, you should focus on your achievements instead of daily tasks. This will allow the recruiter to see the obvious benefits in hiring you.

Instead of saying:

“Served customers”

Say:

“Served food to 80+ people a night and multiple tables at a time”

Simply, the first statement is way too vague. There zero chance the recruiter will be impressed by this.

The second statement shows that you were able to serve 80+ people and multiple tables at a time. This tells the recruiter that you are able to work under pressured conditions and to time constraints – impressive!

What if You Don’t Have Work Experience?

Now, not every applicant will have worked in a similar job before.

If this is you, there is a simple way to get around this.

Simply call-upon crossover skills from any previous jobs.

For example, if you held a customer service role at a local pizza restaurant, you can talk about any crossover skills and experiences. Just like a sales associate, you would be able to show you used strong communication and sales skills.

As a student, make sure to check out our student resume guide!

How to Correctly List your Education

Next, it’s time to talk about your education.

Whether it’s a college junior resume or college sophomore resume, your education section is crucial.

There’s nothing too complicated with this section, just simply enter the information for your in-progress degree in the following format:

  • Degree Type & Major
  • University Name
  • Expected Graduation
  • GPA, Honours, Courses, and anything else you might want to add

Here’s what it should look like:

Majoring in Marketing

University of Chicago

2019 - Present

  • Relevant Courses: Principles of Marketing, Managerial Communications, Quantitative Methods, and Macroeconomics.

Now, you may have some questions on this section. If so, here are the answers to some of the most frequent questions that we get:

  • What if I haven’t completed education yet?

As we mention above, you should still mention your current place of education, despite not finishing yet

  • Should I include my high school education?

If you have not yet finished your college degree, you should also include your high school education

  • What do I put first, my education or experience?

Experiences are the priority, so those go first

Want more information? Check out our guide on how to list education on a resume.

Top 10 Skills for a College Student Resume

You’ve got all the skills.

But here’s the thing –

Your competition is well-skilled too!

Show the hiring manager that you’re the top candidate by listing your best skills.

But what are the best skills for a college resume?

Create a list of hard skills and soft skills that you have developed so far in life, such as the following:

Hard Skills for a College Resume:

  • Microsoft Office
  • SEO
  • Coding
  • Typing Speed
  • Copywriting

Soft Skills:

  • Creative Thinking
  • Communication
  • Time-Management
  • Team Player
  • Decision-Making

Pro Tip

Tailor your skills to the job description. You can have the best skills in the world, but the recruiter won’t appreciate them if they’re not relevant to the job.

Here’s a more comprehensive list of 100+ must-have skills this year.

What Else Can You Include?

We’ve now covered every essential resume section.

But the school bell hasn’t rung just yet.

You need your resume to stand out!

Acing the above sections should be enough to get you shortlisted, but adding the following sections could give you a further advantage over the other applicants.  

Awards & Certifications

Have you ever won an award?

Have you completed any third-party courses?

Do you hold any specialized certifications?

Regardless of what it is, if there is anything that you’re proud of, be sure to include it here.

Here’s an example:

Awards & Certificates

  • Food Handlers Card & Food Safety Manager Certification 
  • “Critical Thinking Masterclass” – Coursera Course

Languages

Need to speak multiple languages at your new job?

Yes or no, being able to speak a second language is impressive.

And with so much competition, this could be the difference.

Add a language section if you have space. 

Rank the languages by proficiency:

  • Native
  • Fluent
  • Proficient
  • Intermediate
  • Basic

Interests & Hobbies

Now, you may be wondering, “why would a recruiter want to know that I’m a part of the football team?”

Well, it allows the recruiter to get to know who you are on a personal level.

But it doesn’t stop there…

Certain hobbies demonstrate that you have soft skills, like teamwork and communication. 

Here’s which hobbies & interests you may want to mention.

Include a Cover Letter with Your Resume

Your resume should now be ready to send.

But wait –

No application is complete without a convincing cover letter.

In opposition to a generic resume, a personalized cover letter shows that you care about working for this specific company.

Here’s how to structure a winning cover letter:

You should complete the following sections:

Personal Contact Information

Your full name, profession, email, phone number, and location

Hiring Manager’s Contact Information

Full name, position, location, email

Opening Paragraph

It’s no secret that recruiters skim through their pile of resumes. As such, use concise language to mention:

  • The position you’re applying for
  • Your experience summary and best achievement to date

The Body

With the recruiter intrigued, you can get deeper into the following specifics:

  • Why you chose this specific company
  • What you know about the company
  • How are your top skills relevant for the job
  • Which similar industries or positions have you worked in before

Closing Paragraph

Don’t just end the conversation abruptly, you should:

  • Conclude the points made in the body paragraph
  • Thank the recruiter for the opportunity
  • Finish with a call to action. This is a good way to keep the conversation going. A simple “At your earliest opportunity, I’d love to discuss more about how I can help you achieve X” will work

Formal Salutations

End the letter in a professional manner. Something like, “Kind regards” or “Sincerely.”

For more inspiration, read our step-by-step guide on how to write a cover letter.

Key Takeaways

Building a college resume doesn’t have to be hard.

Just follow the tips in this guide for a college resume that is head & shoulders above the competition. 

Here are our best tips on how to create a college resume:

  • Make your resume easy to read by formatting it correctly. Prioritize the reverse-chronological format, and then follow the best practices on content layout
  • Use a resume summary or objective to hook the recruiter
  • In your work experience section, highlight your most notable achievements to date
  • Include a convincing cover letter to separate you from the competition

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