As a student, you probably know the pain of staring at a blank screen. It's bad enough to have writer's block when you are trying to write a college essay, but when you are trying to write a resume, it can be more than frustrating – it can actually cost you time and money.
If you are like most college students and recent grads, one of the most glaring challenges to overcome is figuring out a way to build an awesome resume when you haven't held many relevant past jobs.
The good news is that it is possible to write a strong resume, even if you have no direct work experience. After all, as an educated person, you have many skills that will be appealing to employers.
Through school, sports, volunteer work, internships, and other experiences, you have what it takes to get an entry-level job. You just need to learn how to articulate these strengths for your resume.
Here is your crash course in how to write a resume that will get you the J-O-B – fast!
Choose a Format to Highlight Your Resume Skills
Half the battle with learning how to write a resume is finding a way to present your skills and experience in a way that emphasizes your strengths for a resume and de-emphasizes your weaknesses. Since, as a college student or recent grad, your weakness is likely your lack of work experience, you want to create a resume format that pulls out your rock star qualities and makes them pop.
While the most common resume format – and the one preferred by recruiters – is the chronological format, for your first resume you may want to choose a different format. Why? Because a chronological resume format is designed to showcase a steady work history. If you don't have one, you'll want to pick a different format.
If you are a student or recent graduate with little to no work or internship experience, choosing a functional resume can help to bring attention to what you have learned in school or through other experiences. This format eschews dates of employment, emphasizing skills instead.
If you are a college student or recent grad with at least some work or internship experience, a combination resume might be the best choice for you. This format combines elements of the chronological and functional formats to allow you to show off your limited experience and highlight your skills in one document.
Hard and Soft Skills for a Resume: How to Highlight Your Strengths on Your Resume
For those jobseekers with limited work experience, it is important to emphasize your education, volunteer work, internship experience, travel, and other experiences. In other words, for those without a solid work history, transferrable skills are the name of the game.
There are two types of skills to list on your resume: hard skills and soft skills. Before you begin writing your resume, it's important to understand the difference and the value of each.
Hard skills are teachable capabilities that can be learned in a classroom (or similar environment). These are skill that can be measured or tested. Examples of hard skills are things like proficiency in Excel or other software programs, analyzing data, or being fluent in a language.
Soft skills are less tangible but no less important. These are qualities that enable a person to interact effectively and amicably with other people. In fact, some research suggests that soft skills are becoming more and more important to employers since they are harder to teach than hard skills. Examples of soft skills are communication, listening, and conflict resolution. These skills are hard to quantify but are critical to functioning in the workplace.
40 Resume Skills for Students and Recent Grads
As mentioned above, your skills can be broken up into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Since there are literally thousands of skills out there, it is impossible to name them all here. Instead, we have created two lists to provide you with some inspiration as you zero in on your own hard and soft skills.
Hard Resume Skills for Students and Recent Grads:
- Graphic design
- Data analysis
- Microsoft Excel
- Public speaking
- Microsoft Word
- Project management
- Office management
- Event promotion
- Event planning
- Management experience
Soft Resume Skills for Students and Recent Grads:
- Communication skills (both written and oral)
- Customer service
- Organizational skills
- Handling conflict
- Attention to detail
- Takes initiative
Personalizing the Skills on Your Resume
Here's a pro tip: every time you apply for a job you should be personalizing your resume to the job ad. That means reading the job ad and either adding the skills mentioned or reorganizing your skill section so that the hard and soft skills required for the role at hand are prominent.
On average, a recruiter only spends only six seconds reviewing a resume before deciding whether to offer a candidate a job interview. For that reason, you want to study the job ad and make sure that the most relevant information is clear and easy to find on your resume.
If personalization sounds like a lot of work, don't worry. It really isn't. The basic elements of your resume won't change from job to job. Personalizing doesn't require rewriting the entire document; rather it's about reorganizing information to make it jump off the page.
Here is how to do it in three simple steps:
- Read the job ad and make a list of all of the skills listed in the description.
- Identify the skills that you possess.
- Add those skills to the Skills section of your resume and illustrate them in the Work experience section of your resume by attaching them to certain accomplishments or responsibilities.
Can't seem to properly organize your resume skills for students? LiveCareer's free resume builder can help. In just a few minutes, our resume builder will ensure that you have a well-written, attractive resume ready to go.
Additional Resources for Jobseekers: