Resumes are an essential part of finding an internship or job. This often puts a lot of pressure on college students to create the perfect resume in order to score their dream career. Rest assured that resumes are easier to create than they may appear!
There is essential information that must be included which can guide your formatting, and resumes can also be catered specifically to your undergraduate level as you gain more experience.
Keep reading to learn everything you should know about writing the best possible resume, from the format to adjusting for your particular experience level. For now, let’s begin with the essential sections for a properly formatted resume!
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Most people know that resumes have a set format or template that sorts out the proper information. This makes them easy for employers to follow, and with the many templates available online it is clear where your information needs to go. But some templates can be needlessly flashy or take up unneeded space, or perhaps you just want to create your own! Whatever your approach, here are the five essential sections that must be included in a resume.
This is the simplest but (some would say) most essential part of the resume. After all, how can employers find you without it? The contact information is placed at the header of the resume, and it should include your full professional name, phone number, and professional email address. These are all of the essentials needed to let your potential employer contact you for hiring or the next round of interviews.
You can also include your personal address, or at least the city and state in which you reside. Most new undergraduate students forget to update their address, but if you move to a new state for college, remember to include this on your resume!
This section allows you to state directly to your potential employer what you can bring to the company. This statement changes based on your overall experience; if you are a new student and seeking first-time or entry level employment, you would use this objective to talk about your overall strengths (responsibility, communication, organization) and what you are seeking for your career. If you are a more experienced worker, give a brief summary of your work experience and your areas of interests. Keep in mind not to overstate or repeat what is included in your resume, but rather summarize it and let employers know what to look out for. This section should not be longer than two to four sentences.
For new undergraduates, you can include your high school or simply list yourself as a student at your specific university expecting to graduate in your specific year with your chosen degree. For those who are older and either close to or already have had their graduation, you can list your degree, your graduation year, and the name and location of your university.
This can be a great place to emphasize any scholarships, study abroad program, or a high GPA that would not otherwise be included in your resume. These tidbits should only be included if they are of particular note or relevant to your career. For example, a scholarship or fellowship in computer science would be a good thing to note on a resume for a job in technology. Otherwise, keep this section short and sweet!
Now we get to the longest and most important part of the resume! Your work experience should list your past jobs and internships. You should include the title and location of these jobs as well as a few bullet points outlining your tasks and particular achievements. These are great places to use descriptive and eye-catching terms to describe your work. When constructing your bullet points, don’t simply list every single job duty, such as “answering phones” or “contacting clients”. Instead, list the skills you gained or the duties you had that will transfer well to your new position.
Resumes should only be about a page long, so don’t list everything! As you gain more experience, you can pick and choose what to include based on what job you are applying for. If you have relatively little experience, prioritize listing part-time jobs and volunteering opportunities.
Finally, you should end with examples of your unique skills! For a good foundation, list 5 to 10 abilities that you possess that will be useful to your employer. These could include language proficiency, technological skills, and personal skills or abilities. You can also customize this section based on what your potential job describes. If they are looking for someone with leadership skills, add yours to the list! This section is useful because you do not necessarily need previous work experience to have good, transferable skills.
These are the five essential sections of a resume! When creating yours, make sure to craft each section to display your skills as best as possible. It is all about knowing how to market yourself, regardless of experience. But what if you feel that you either have too little experience or too much experience to put on a resume? Go ahead and read an article that helps you in writing a resume with no experience by clicking this link.
Next, let’s dive into writing a resume for your specific undergraduate position! Your resume will change over the years, but the common thread between them all can be their level of professionalism regardless of your experience level.
Over the four years of your undergraduate career, you’ll gain a variety of different experiences to add to your resume! Here are some essential tips for writing for each specific year!
This is the point in your college career when most of your experience will come from academics and extracurriculars. I understand that you may not have related work experience or projects yet to list on your resume since you just started your college life. However, it is always a good idea to put something which can show your personality and ability. Companies care about your technical skills, that’s true, but they also care about your soft skills, which may be reflected in your extracurricular activities or hobbies.
It is all about advertising yourself for how you are suited for the position and can be an asset to the team.
As we stated, do not forget to include your new college address in your contact information if you are applying for positions in the area. You should also consider using your school email address, as a high school email address will be used less frequently once you enter college. For your resume objective, make sure to emphasize your personal skills and accomplishments as opposed to work experience. This shows all that you can bring to the table!
Your sophomore year of college can often feel like a peculiar balancing act. You are no longer a freshman, but you aren’t quite a seasoned upperclassman either! Most of the time, you will have new extracurricular and academic achievements at college. Any campus jobs or research positions should be added to your resume, including what you did during the summer between your freshman and sophomore year.
What if you don’t have that many academic achievements to list in your resume?
You can list the college courses that you think can help you do the job (e.g., Critical thinking, Leadership development), or which shows you have the knowledge you need for the job (e.g., Statistics, Quantum theory, Intro to JAVA).
Sophomore year is typically when people begin to clarify their educational journey and decide on their majors. This can help bolster your educational section, particularly if you now have a high (above 3.5) college GPA!
After your sophomore year, there is typically a shift in your resume. You now have two college summers under your belt, and two whole years to collect jobs, internships, and leadership positions. This is when it gets harder to go through your experience and choose all relevant positions. Resumes should typically be restricted to one page, and as a college junior you now need to decide what is most important for your application.
This is when you are able to gain more experience and start applying for more intense and career-oriented jobs. Consider catering your resume for each application! By going through the job description and finding the key words, you can insert them into your previous work experience to catch the eye of your potential employer.
A good tip is to also seek out the help of the professionals at your college’s career center. As an upperclassman, you will be given priority and can get a second set of eyes to look over your resume.
At the end of your junior year, you are typically seeking one last big summer job or internship before senior year. That is why catering your resume (which has been perfected over the course of two years) is so essential.
First of all: Congratulations on making it to your senior year!
At this point, you will be looking towards heading off to graduate school or joining the workforce in a permanent position. Either way, your resume will need to be perfected! You will more than likely be applying to a variety of positions, so a helpful tip is to make a list of all work experiences you have had throughout college.
For example, if your resume needs to only be a page, you will often need to choose between your experiences. A tutoring job at an elementary school will be excellent for an education position but could be replaced with more specific work experience if you wanted to go into another industry. Cater your words and experience for each job description or graduate school opening, and you will be more likely to stand out as the desired candidate.
Even with an excellent resume, most jobs will require you to craft a cover letter. Together, a quality resume and a cover letter can immediately mark you as the one for the job! Creating a basic cover letter that can be customized and included each time you send in your resume is a good industry tip. Cover letters are short, no more than three to five paragraphs, but are excellent ways to call out the specific work experience in your resume that you wish to emphasize.
Here is the basic package of the basic cover letter:
- Your contact information
- The address of the job you are applying for
- A greeting paragraph and opening
- A paragraph describing how your experience makes you suited for the job
- A closing paragraph thanking them for the opportunity
It is highly suggested that you include a cover letter with professional applications, unless the employer themselves request that you do not. It is truly the perfect complement to your resume.
Now that you know more about the essential sections of a resume, you can craft a suitable resume all on your own! By acknowledging that your experience will grow, and your career desires will change over the course of your undergraduate career, you can grow your resume in turn and have successful applications in each year of college!