Resumes & Cover Letters

9 College Resume Tips + Examples

March 24, 2021

Whether you’re seeking a professional opportunity after graduation, applying for an internship or looking for a job while you complete your studies, creating a college student resume is the best way to share your skills and experience with employers.

Here are nine tips for creating a college resume:

  1. Choose the right resume format
  2. Write for an applicant tracking system (ATS)
  3. Include professional contact information
  4. Include an objective or professional summary
  5. List your education after your summary
  6. Include relevant experience
  7. Include relevant coursework
  8. List relevant skills
  9. Proofread your resume

1. Choose the right resume format

Potential employers will spend a short amount of time looking at your resume—usually only several seconds. The easier your resume is to scan, the better you can hold their attention. Most recruiters and hiring managers will focus their attention on the following resume sections:

  • Name and contact information
  • Education and achievements
  • Employment history
  • Relevant skills and experiences

The best resume formats are well organized with only the most relevant information and should make efficient use of blank space to avoid clutter.

Resume Format
Image description

Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
2. Summary or objective
3. Professional history
a. Company name
b. Dates of tenure
c. Description of role and achievement
4. Education
5. Skills
6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

To ensure your qualities and accomplishments are easily visible, choose a simple layout that allows you to showcase the qualifications that are most relevant to the job posting. To eliminate blank spaces, consider including additional sections that could be helpful for employers like relevant skills, awards and achievements or professional interests.

Pro Tip: For college students or recent graduates, the chronological resume format is recommended for presenting your credentials to employers. This format allows you to present your most important information first.

For more information on selecting a resume format, check out our guides on using the most popular resumes:
Chronological Resume Tips and Examples - For candidates with extensive, consistent experience
Functional Resume Tips and Examples - For candidates with gaps or changes in their career
Combination Resume Tips and Examples - For candidates whose skills are more important than work experience

2. Write for an applicant tracking system (ATS)

An applicant tracking system is software used by companies to review, rank and sort applications received for a job or internship posting. An ATS prioritizes and ranks resumes according to their use of the specified keywords related to the job posting. Resumes with the least amount of keywords or those not formatted for an ATS are ranked lowest.

General best practices for writing an ATS-friendly resume include:

  • Review the job description for character traits and skills needed to be successful in the role.
  • Collect a list of keywords from the listed preferred and required qualifications.
  • Use standard headings like Experience, Skills and Education.
  • Avoid complex formattings such as images, columns, tables, headers and footers.

Pro Tip: Submit a word document when applying to jobs online. It may be tempting to submit a PDF file since this format does not readjust your formatting, but not all ATSs can scan this format properly.

Read more: How to Write an ATS-Friendly Resume

3. Include professional contact information

The first thing potential employers should see is a section at the top of your resume with your name, contact information and a link to your professional profile or website if you have one. In this section, you should include:

  • First and last name
  • City and state
  • Current phone number
  • Current and professional email address

Preferably, your initial contact information should fill one to two lines of the page just under your name at the top. Your name should be the largest heading on the page with 16 to 18 point font. Use the City, State format to list your location—there’s no need to include your physical address on your resume. Remember, your resume is not a legal document, which means you can select whichever name represents you best and what you’d like to be called during the hiring process and eventually at work.

Here’s an example of what your contact information section might look like:

April Jackson
512 Wide AvenueChicago, Illinois
april.jackson@email.com555-102-1512aprilsmith.portfolio.net

Pro Tip: Use professional contact information. Employers will notice your level of professionalism, so use your college or university email alias or create a professional address consisting of your first and last name such as firstname.lastname@email.com. In addition, create a professional message for your voicemail.

4. Include an objective or professional summary

This statement, also called a "career objective," "resume summary" or "objective statement," goes below your contact information and is usually composed of one to two sentences that sum up your short-term professional goals and why you’re seeking employment. Your objective statement should be brief and focus specifically on your current career-related experience as well as your developed skills. Keep this section under 50 words or two to three lines in length.

Read more: Guide To Writing Objectives for a College Resume

Here’s an example objective statement:

“Recent graduate of a well-ranked literature program with extensive high-level coursework and experience in editing and proofreading for academic and business writing. Skilled at applying multiple style guides (APA, MLA, AP, Chicago) and seeking a position that involves regular use of these skills.”

This example is under 50 words, provides only essential details about the applicant and showcases the candidate’s relevant skills and potential value to the company.

Pro Tip: Tailor your summary to the employer. Mention specific skills listed in the job posting and that you are seeking a position with their company. This signals to the employer that you have studied the job description, know the qualifications needed for their role and are highlighting that information immediately.

For more information, read our guides on writing a resume summary, profile or objective statement:

5. List your education after your summary

Your education section is where you’ll demonstrate to employers that you’re learning skills you can apply on the job. Consider featuring it as one of the first sections on your resume.

Related: How to List Education on a Resume

Even if what you’re studying may seem unrelated to the professional world, your commitment to education can demonstrate a will to continually improve and showcase a strong work ethic. Take this opportunity to list relevant coursework you’ve completed, your GPA (if it’s 3.5 or above) and key areas of study. Your education section should include:

  • The name of your school
  • The location of your school
  • The degree you are pursuing (if applicable)
  • Your field(s) of study
  • Your graduation year (if applicable)
  • Your GPA (Note: You may not want to include this if it’s not above 3.5 or above.)
  • Any relevant honors or academic recognition, coursework, activities or other achievements obtained during your education

Here are two examples:

Example 1:

University of Hawaii, 2020
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Business Essentials Certificate, Terry Scholar

Example 2

University of Virginia May 2019
Alpha Phi Omega • The largest collegiate fraternity in the US, coed and with a focus on community service.

Pro Tip: If you have not graduated yet, include your anticipated or expected graduation date. Include only the month and year, no need to include the dates you were enrolled.

Example: Expected graduation May 2022

6. Include relevant experience

You don’t have to limit your experience section to paid jobs. If you’re new to the job market and don’t have many professional roles to share, include volunteer positions, internships and extracurricular activities. These experiences can show you have the required skills to succeed in the position you’re applying for. For example, including your role as captain of a sports team demonstrates leadership abilities, while your experience as chair of a student club exhibits organizational skills.

Functional Resume Format
Image description

Functional Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
2. Summary
3. Skills grouped by theme
4. Any relevant professional experience
5. Education

If you do have paid job experience or relevant internships, list those first with the name of the company, its location and the year(s) you interned. Then provide two to three bullet points highlighting your achievements with action verbs during your time in those positions. Include any measurable successes you had with numbers where possible. For example, your experience section might look something like this:

Appleton Editing Services | May – Aug. 2018
Press Release Editing Intern

  • Spearheaded a team of three interns to edit incoming press releases with short turnaround times
  • Developed processes for AP style guide approach to deliverables
  • Coordinated with the team to implement editing guidelines which reduced time to publish by 20%

7. Include relevant coursework

As you start to draft a professional resume, it’s possible that you might not have a large volume of work experience to include. In this instance, consider adding coursework that’s relevant to the job or internship you’re applying for can help employers understand the skills you’re developing and why you’d be a good fit for the job. Beneath your professional experience, format the course and school name as you would your work experience and provide details including relevant class projects, key topics learned and individual achievements.

Example

Ethics of Journalism, State University I Fall 2020

  • Gained an understanding of the guiding principles and values of ethical journalism
  • Developed and followed a rational process for determining options to proceed when faced with an ethics problem
  • Presented justification for decisions to editors, colleagues and guest audience at the end of the semester

Related: How to Include Coursework on a Student Resume

8. List relevant skills

When an employer reviews your resume, they’re looking to understand why you’d make a valuable addition to their team. Listing your skills is a way to quickly communicate your ability to succeed in the role. Include a combination of hard skills (i.e., skills you learned through education and experience like software programs or foreign languages) and soft skills (i.e., personality traits and skills you can apply to any job like problem-solving and time management).

If you’re having trouble identifying skills to include, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What accomplishments and successes have you achieved? What traits, skills or abilities helped you do it?
  • What skills do your friends, family or classmates think you have?
  • Are there particular traits or skills professionals in the field you’re applying to often have? Do you also possess those?

Here’s an example of what a computer scientist may list on their resume under their skills section:

PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES

  • Java I JavaScript I PHP I C++ I Python I CSS I HTML I SQL I R

ADDITIONAL SKILLS
Highly organized I Problem solver I Excellent time management

Pro Tip: Review the job description to identify the skills and behaviors needed to be successful in the role. The preferred and required skills are often ATS keywords that are used to quickly identify qualified candidates.

Related: Best Skills to Include on a Resume

9. Proofread your resume

Proofread your resume before uploading it online and sending it to your potential employer. And then reread it again. If you’re unsure how to effectively proofread, you can find tips and details in 27 Proofreading Tips to Improve Your Resume.

Pro Tip: Take a break before proofreading your resume. After drafting your resume, it’s common for you to skim the document and read it the way you intended to write it. It’s common to miss grammatical errors or awkward sentences, so take a break or get a good night’s rest before proofreading your resume.

College student resume example

Here is an example of a college student resume, based on the tips above:

Horatio Hiller
College Town, NY I 917-555-1234 I hhiller@email.edu

OBJECTIVE
I am a creative and highly motivated student seeking a part-time internship where I can lend my knowledge of digital advertising to help your organization improve profitability and grow my industry experience.

EDUCATION
New York University Major: Advertising I GPA: 3.8 - Expected Graduation Date: May 2022

Relevant Coursework: Media Planning, Psychology in Advertising, Communication Law
Clubs: Ad Club, Student Newspaper, Students for Environmental Action (SEA)

EXPERIENCE
Grey Media Agency | New York, New York
Digital Advertising Intern, May 2019 – August 2019

  • Served as lead advertising intern as part of a summer-long apprenticeship program
  • Assisted in building, launching and managing Google AdWords campaigns for leading clients
  • Successfully grew client ad spend return-on-investment more than 30% quarter over quarter

Student Newspaper | New York, New York
Advertising Sales Representative, August 2017 – Present

  • Act as the primary point of contact for a subset of publication advertisers
  • Scout new advertiser opportunities and build relationships with local businesses
  • Helped newspaper increase annual ad sales nearly 20% from 2017 to 2018

SKILLS & ABILITIES
Team leadership I Verbal and written communication I Time management I Problem-solving I Adobe Creative Suite I Google AdWords Certified I Fluency in English and French

AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Elected Ad Club chair for 2018/2019 school year
  • Awarded 2019 Best Student Advertising Campaign in the retail category
  • Maintained Dean’s List status Fall 2018 through Spring 2019

When crafting your college student resume, tailor the content to the requirements of the position and highlight the strengths and aspects of your education employers will find most valuable. By highlighting your best attributes and showcasing your accomplishments, you can leave a lasting impression as a strong candidate.

Related: 5 Templates for College Resumes

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