How to write a great student resume: Creating something out of nothing [+ examples]

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
March 24, 2021

By Nikoleta Žišková, a resident writer at Kickresume

You need a job to get some experience, but you also need experience to get a job.

As bad as it sounds, don’t worry. Even if you have very little work experience, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create a resume that will help you score a job.

What’s the trick you ask? You have to learn how to create something out of nothing. In this article, I’ll tell you how to do just that (or how I managed to get the very first job during my studies by myself).

1.    Packaging sells the product

Your resume is the product, obviously. And the packaging is the design of your resume.

Why does it matter? Recruiters are super busy people. They fly through hundreds of CVs every day, and on average you only have six seconds to impress them with yours. And just like you probably wouldn’t buy a product if its packaging looks cheap, the same goes for resumes.

I still see too many students and recent grads use Microsoft Word CVs and trust me, it’s not the right way to go. It’s old-fashioned, your resume ends up cluttered and is hard to read. After all, in your job search, you don’t want to be like a Fiat among Ferraris. You want to be that Ferrari!

Today, you can find many online resume builders where you can choose from hundreds of professional design templates. A few of them are Canva, Kickresume, or Zety. You just choose a template, fill in your information and that’s it — you have a great-looking resume ready.

It didn’t even hurt, did it? Plus it has increased your chances of getting your dream job by at least 60%.

2.    Start off strong

Your resume’s intro is super important. Here’s why:

  1. You want to convince the recruiter to read the rest of your resume.
  2. You want to show them you’re a good fit.
  3. You also want to differentiate yourself from the competition right from the start.

A great resume summary will help you with just that. It briefly summarizes who you are, what you do and what you can offer your future employer.

Make sure to place it at the top of your resume, right after the header. Also, keep it as short as possible — one or three strong sentences will do the trick. However, avoid having a bland objective statement and be a bit more detailed about who you are and what you can offer.

Here’s a great example:

Tip: If you want to show in your summary that you’re the right fit, use a few keywords from the job description (if relevant).

3.    Your education is not just about the name of the school

Another common mistake that students or recent graduates make in the education section, is that they only write the name of the school, study program and years of attendance.

C’mon! You want to grab the recruiter’s attention! Not to make them fall asleep over your resume even after double espresso.

If you’re not a total slacker, you probably also know other student activities than just partying. Do you write for a university magazine? Do you organize school events? Are you applying for a graphic designer job and took a photography course? These are the things that set you apart from other peers.

Here’s what you can mention in your education section:

  • Relevant subjects
  • Successful school projects
  • Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis
  • Study stays abroad
  • School clubs
  • Awards
  • Study average
  • Publications
  • Scholarship
  • Extracurricular activities
4.    An unpaid internship is also a great experience

Paid or unpaid internships, compulsory or optional internships, summer jobs, or extracurricular activities — treat them all as regular work experience. And present them the same way on your resume.

Summer jobs. Lady Gaga also started as a waitress. Highlight what such work has taught you and how it can benefit your future position. It can be improved English skills, working with people, or better time management.

Internships. Paid or unpaid, as they say, you’ve definitely gained experience that is priceless!

Volunteering. Whether it’s helping the poor or doing humanitarian work for an NGO, these activities will show your future employer that you’re motivated and willing to do something (even selflessly).

Extracurricular activities. For example, if you’re applying for a copywriting role, your future employer would definitely be impressed by the fact that you wrote twenty articles for student newspapers.

5.    Everyone has their skills

And I don’t mean cliché skills like Excel, MS Office, or my favorite one — the Internet itself. These are the kinds of skills that everybody should have and they don’t set you apart from others.

Try to be more specific and state things that will add some value to the company. For instance, do you want to work as a marketer? Technical skills like Google Analytics or Ahrefs will for sure improve your resume. And the advantage is that these skills can be easily developed from online learning — just check platforms like Coursera, EdX, Udemy, or Google Digital Garage.

In the current COVID-19 situation, it’s also a plus to mention technical skills such as Asana, Slack, Skype, or MS Teams.

And don’t forget about soft skills either. Over 90% of HR professionals consider them as important as hard skills. These are skills, abilities, and talents that you’ve acquired through time via different experiences such as school, jobs, summer camps, volunteering, or sports, and can be easily used in other jobs too.

For instance, presenting projects and essays in school was just something you had to do. In the end, the side product is that you’ve developed great presentation skills which are needed in marketing, PR, sales, and many other fields.

6.    Show a little bit of your personality

A resume is not just a plain paper. And companies aren’t looking for boring creatures who will stare at their monitors all day and wander around the office. When choosing, they also take into account the personality of the candidate and a potential fit into their team.

Do you have an interesting award? Do you practice skydiving? Such unusual things deserve a place in your resume.

However, avoid using cliché phrases (again and always). Everyone loves traveling, listening to music, or watching Netflix. This really doesn’t make you special. Rather go for something like this:

7. Tailor your resume to each job

When you finally have your resume ready, you only have one task left — tailor it to each position you’re applying for.

Why so? There’s no one who likes generic resumes. And it makes the company feel like they’re the only ones your heart belongs to. Which is exactly what makes you their best choice.

Take a look at the job ad, analyze it and highlight important keywords. Then match them with your experience and skills and include them on your resume.

It will not only help you keep your resume ATS-safe, but will also show you’re a great fit, which in the end is the most important mission of your resume.

Article courtesy of Nikoleta Žišková, a resident writer at Kickresume, a professional resume builder trusted by 1M+ job seekers. Her mission is to help people kick-start their careers.  www.blog.kickresume.com

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