How To Write a College Resume (Template Included)

By Mike Simpson

It is senior year and the time has come.

The quad that seemed so welcoming and full of promise four years ago is now populated with children.

Was I really that young a mere four years ago?”

You were.

The beer has been drunk, the parties have become monotonous and dull, and you are sick and tired of living in a group house. It is time to put all you have learned to use and find your first full-time, fully-paid, benefit-giving position in the workforce.

It is time to write a college resume!

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You take to your fiery friend Google for a glimpse of what steps to take next. The first resume template sends chills through your fingers and makes you curl your toes. The second solidifies your fears.

You are woefully unprepared for employment.

Just as you have to have money to make money, you need to have a job to get a job. If you have worked through college, either in paid positions or as an intern, you are in a pretty good position to enter the labor market. If, however, you have not held a job or internship by the time you graduate, you are woefully behind the curve.

Luckily, everyone loves a good underdog.

What Is A College Resume?

A college resume is a resume with relatively few, if any, positions of employment presented.

As the main feature of a traditional resume, the lack of previous experience makes a college resume unique. Unlike regular workers, you will need to show your preparation and ability to perform in the workforce without relying on solid, firm workplace-based evidence.

There are several ways to do this. The specific features you choose to highlight will depend upon how you’ve spent your time.

Resume Summary

This feature is optional. Depending on how much experience you have, and how well your experience fits in with the position you are hoping to gain, you may want to include a resume summary. This should include a statement of your career goals.

Schoolwork

As a recent college graduate, you can convincingly argue that school has been your full-time job. If you have excelled scholastically, be sure to highlight your achievements.

Include grade point average, any honors received, and particularly difficult classes that are relevant to your chosen career field.

If you majored in a relevant field that includes bench work or specific skills, list these skills.

Extracurricular Activities

Aside from school, how have you spent your time in college?

You probably don’t want to mention your ability to do a thirty-second keg stand or trick of brushing your teeth in the shower to make it to class five minutes after rolling out of bed.

What you do want to highlight is any leadership you’ve taken on.

  • Have you helped to organize events?
  • Have you participated in student council?
  • Have you taken on a leadership role at any of your school’s clubs?

Community Service

If you have engaged in any community service, even if it was a one-time deal, mention it on your resume.

Running a marathon for breast cancer may not be as impressive as starting a Habitat for Humanity chapter at your school, but something is better than nothing. If you did considerable community service, go into more detail, allowing this section to take up a larger portion of your resume.

Internships

If you have had one or more internships, these count as work experience. Though you will still want to bolster your resume with some of the features above, your final document will resemble that of a new worker, not a student with no experience. You may also be able to leverage your work as an intern to help you find an entry-level position.

MIKE'S TIP: Your resume will be one of many. Find some way to make it stand out! Many people include a skills and hobby section at the very end of their resume. This is a great place to let your unique personality shine through. Are you a black belt in karate, involved in a skydiving club or excellent at juggling? Sneak in a fun fact.

If you’re gonna go for an intership be sure to check out our internship interview questions article.

Tips For Writing A Winning College Resume

Since you generally won’t have a ton of experience to highlight on your resume, you have to make sure that you are nailing everything else.

With that said, here are some tips you can follow to ensure your college resume is up to snuff:

1. Keep It Clean And Short

As a new college graduate, your resume should not be longer than one page. Some employment experts stick to this rule independent of a job seekers time on the workforce.

It is also important that that your resume be formatted in a way that is simple and easy to read. Keep the font large, use text formatting to draw the reader’s eye to the highlights, and allow for significant space between sections and activities.

This will have the added bonus of making your resume seem a little fuller if you have little to include.

2. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

We cannot stress this enough. Proofread your resume. Don’t trust spellcheck. Don’t even trust yourself.

Never send a resume out until it has been proofread by yourself more than once and also sent to someone else to read. It can be a friend, your mom, or even your sister. Fresh eyes are key.

MIKE'S TIP #2: After writing your resume, save it and wait a couple days before coming back to proofread. Often we read what we think we have written when proofreading right away. Looking at your resume with fresh eyes will help you to spot any small problems in spelling or punctuation.

3. Keep It Consistent

If you truncate months to three letters (i.e. January becomes “Jan.”), make sure you have truncated all the months in this way.

If you are using bold for the activity title, and then listing place and date in italics below, be sure that this is how your entries are formatted every time.

Consistency shows attention to detail, which is important in nearly every employment opportunity.

4. Be Specific

Be sure to include the dates that you were involved in each activity and provide an overview of the tasks and time you spent performing each task.

If you tutored, include how many hours you spent tutoring. Hopefully, this will flesh out your activities and show your future employer that you were actively engaged in a variety of activities during school.

Mistakes To Avoid When Writing A College Resume

As I mentioned above, with little content to go on it becomes crucial that you’ve not made any glaring mistakes when presenting your resume to a hiring manager.

These are some of the major mistakes (that we see all the time) that you need to ensure you are avoiding:

1. Don’t Oversell

You’re a new college graduate, and that’s okay. Everyone has been there.

Someone will give you a chance, but not if your resume reads like you’re the bee’s knees. Acknowledge that you’re new to the workforce and accept that you will need to work your way up. A slice of humble pie never did anyone any harm.

2. False Claims

Everyone has that friend who sees you stressed out about your qualifications and says something along the lines of, “What, you didn’t fib at all on your resume? Everybody does. It’s practically expected. It’s not necessarily a lie, just a stretching of the truth.”

It shouldn’t need to be said… but… DON’T LIE ON YOUR RESUME.

It’s a small world now. Things have a way of coming up down the road. And as I said before, you’re a college grad. The employer knows this. They’re not expecting you to have been a CEO at a Fortune 500 company.

3. Don’t Undersell

Even if you wasted a good portion of your college years partying, you have come out the other side wiser, smarter, and with significantly better social skills.

Don’t sell yourself short.

You do have strengths that employers are looking for and you need to highlight them. If you need to dig deep, then dig. Why should someone hire you