College students face unique challenges when writing their first resumes. An effective resume for those who lack experience should begin with a great opening statement. Traditionally, writing a resume objective was the best way to begin.
However, the resume summary statement is now the new standard for successful resumes. A resume summary statement shifts the focus from what the applicant wants to what the applicant has to offer and serves as a concise introduction that will pique the interest of any potential employer.
How You Used to Write a College Student Resume Objective
A resume objective is a one-sentence statement written from the perspective of the applicant. Your prospective employer is already aware of the information typically included in a resume objective, however. Due to the length restriction, writing a resume objective often results in vague language and generalizations. For example, a traditional resume objective might read:
Recent college graduate seeks a web development position with Company XYZ to support organizational goals with effective teamwork and graphic design skills.
This single sentence attempts to introduce the applicant and his or her career goals, strongest skills and the impact he or she will have in the company. In general, writing a resume objective is not effective because that proves to be too much information for one sentence, and your goal is not as important as how you might fulfill the goals of the company.
If you want your resume to stand out, expand on your introduction using specific language and concrete examples. Instead of writing a resume objective, learn how to format a stellar resume summary statement in its place.
How to Write a College Student Resume Summary Statement
A resume summary statement is a great way to make a strong first impression. Although writing a resume objective is a rather simple process usually restricted to one sentence, a resume summary can be four to six lines long. This gives you more room to elaborate. A resume summary usually contains an overview of your work experience, two to three hard skills or task-oriented attributes and some information about personal attributes. You may be wondering what to include if you lack experience in your field. That's where college students need to get creative. Focus on your education and any part-time or internship experiences in which you gained transferable skills. Consider the following example:
Notice how this example mentions specific hard and soft skills that could be developed in the classroom. Working under pressure and tight deadlines relates to almost all of the work you need to achieve in college. As a web design major, this student would have built customized websites using the programs standard for his field. Many courses also include group projects in the curriculum. These college activities were designed as preparation for the workforce, so include them in your resume as well.
As a student, you might not be aware of which skills you've acquired in school are relevant to the position. To get a better idea of what skills you should include on your resume, search for related job descriptions. Job descriptions will tell you what tasks you will need to perform in a certain position. Then, try to match those skills with skills you may have developed in college. LiveCareer offers excellent tips on how to organize your various skill sets, but remember to customize your resume to the job.