College students with a limited work history can still craft resumes that shine. A typical college student resume should center around volunteer work, educational achievements, awards, activities and hobbies. If you're a student or recent graduate, use your resume to draw attention to your skills and extracurriculars, as well as your aspirations and goals.
Creating a solid resume without a job history can feel difficult, and the first step is to choose the resume format for you — one that's suited to your abilities and experience. A well-structured, logical resume will be your best tool for finding that first entry-level position after graduation.
Functional vs. chronological resumes
The two most common formats used in resumes are chronological and functional.
- Chronological resumes display work history in date order from most to least recent.
- Functional resumes emphasize the applicant's strengths and abilities while downplaying or skipping work history entirely.
Although many employers prefer chronologically formatted resumes, they may not be the best choice for a recent graduate. Functional resumes offer college students the opportunity to emphasize the on-campus experience and transferable skills they earned during their academic careers.
To reap the benefits of both formats, you may want to consider the chrono-functional format, which combines the benefits of chronological and functional resumes.
How to make a college resume: start with sections
n ideal college student resume format prominently features the Education section. At this early stage of your professional life, your academic achievements are some of the best indicators that you are a dependable, committed worker.
Your Education section should include:
- Your expected graduation date
- Awards and recognitions you have earned
- Relevant coursework and extracurricular activities
If you have a strong GPA, list it prominently in this section as well.
Without much relevant work history, we recommend following the Education section with a section describing any additional skills or expertise you have that might interest employers. You can create a table for this section and fill it with two- or three-word phrases that describe your skills. Prospective employers will appreciate the easy-to-read structure, and it's a great way to insert keywords to make your resume highly searchable in employers' applicant tracking systems (ATS), software programs that comb applications for relevant keywords and phrases.
If you have earned multiple non-academic awards or accomplishments, include them in a third section beneath your skills and expertise. If you have one or two non-academic awards, simply add them to the Education section.
Finally, include any work experience you might have. How you organize and rank your work experience section will ultimately depend on how much you have and how relevant it is to the jobs for which you are applying. If, like many college students, you have little to no relevant work experience immediately after graduation, we recommend placing this section at the very bottom of your resume.
Get started on your resume
For most college students, the chrono-functional resume format is the best option to highlight your academic accomplishments and present your other experience. Use this format to emphasize your skills and achievements while also including a short work history section with your job title, the company's name, and location and the dates of employment.
Take the guesswork out of choosing a college resume format and build an easy-to-read guide to your accomplishments. LiveCareer has the resources and information you need to create a great resume, including a Resume Builder and a collection of Resume Templates, organized by industry.