As a college student, the thought of learning how to format a resume and begin your professional job search can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You likely have more skills and experience than you realize. The trick in how to format a resume is presenting those accomplishments in a tidy and concise document, and then editing and proofreading the document until it is perfect.
1. Identify Yourself
Your resume needs to tell people who you are. Start with your name in a large, clear font. You are the subject of this entire document. Include a phone number, an email and a physical address, or at least the city and state. Use a professional email address. Keggerboy99 might have gotten you through college, but it won’t impress any hiring managers.
2. Focus Yourself
Your resume needs to target the specific job for which you are applying. When you are first learning how to format a resume, you might be tempted to list anything and everything just to fill the space. That only clutters and confuses the document. Keep your resume on track with a focus statement.
3. Summarize Yourself
Your resume needs to reach a human being. Before anyone looks at the document, a computer will probably scan it for keywords, and a “summary of qualifications” is a great place for those keywords. How do you know which words to use? Start by looking at the job description. Mirror its style and use the same phrases. Even companies that don’t use keyword programs prefer application materials that mirror their own language.
To keep your summary from turning into a big ball of buzzwords, remember a few pointers. First, follow the golden rule of how to format a resume: Always be honest. Give details about your skills and how you have used them, and keep this section short and to the point. Only use three or four bullet points, and check that each point provides real information about how you can contribute to the position.
4. Describe Yourself
Your resume needs to show you in the best possible light because a resume is essentially a personal marketing document. With that in mind, you have to decide if the body of your resume will begin with education or experience. Most college students start with education. List your date of graduation or anticipated graduation. If you provide a GPA, be honest, but you can use the highest version; some students have a higher average in classes in their major while others may earn better grades in their last 60 hours. As long as the information is true, it’s okay to pick and choose which facts to include when deciding how to format a resume.
The experience section can include much more than just professional work experience. Talk about projects and presentations that show you are proficient in your industry’s software. List culture experiences and volunteer work and then describe how those experiences will make you a better employee.
5. Edit Yourself
Your resume needs to be perfect. This is your chance to catch someone’s eye, so don’t get noticed for typos. Read through it backwards, and check it again after a full day. Have a friend or professor proofread for you. Do whatever it takes to make sure that this particular document has zero errors.
If you’re looking for more tips about writing a college student resume, the LiveCareer website is a helpful resource.