How to Write a Good College Resume

FT Contributor  | 

Writing a resume detailing your college education, work experience, skills, and other extracurricular activities is important in landing your first job or internship. It may not seem like you have a lot of relevant experience at first, but employers with entry-level jobs to fill understand that relevant coursework and internship experiences are what matter when it comes to determining the quality of a recent college graduate candidate.  

Creating a good resume that showcases your college experiences and your aptitudes is important in demonstrating what you’ll bring to the role you’re applying for. This guide will explain how you can best create a resume that will attract the attention of a hiring manager, detailing what you should and shouldn’t include on your resume, as well as how that information should be presented.

What a Good College Resume Looks Like

The format of a good resume is as follows:

Header

The header of your resume should include your full name and contact information, including your address, telephone number, and professional email address. Avoid using a personal email address, as this can be unbecoming to hiring managers. Instead, use the email address provided by your school or one that is simply your first and last name.

Your resume’s header is a vital component, as it makes the hiring manager aware of who you are and how they can best contact you should they want to schedule an interview. As such, make your header easy to find and understand by including it at the top of your resume, either centered or left-aligned. Bold your name so that it’s clear whose resume the hiring manager is viewing.

Introduction

The introduction of a resume is your chance to impress the hiring manager and make your intentions clear. It should include your overall career objective, what major you studied in college, and highlights of any awards or certifications that you might have. Be sure your introduction is customized to the job you are applying for.

Your introduction should be a paragraph under your header that is left-aligned and composed in a legible font such as Calibri, Times New Roman, or Arial. Provide a bolded header for your introduction, such as “Objective” or “Introduction,” to keep your resume looking polished.

Education

The education portion of your resume is extremely important. Here, you should emphasize your academic history, including the name of your school, the degree you obtained, and any minors you may have studied. Additionally, this section is where you can celebrate any of your academic achievements. If you took any particular classes or electives relevant to the position you’re applying for, mention those here as well.

This section should be formatted with the school name bolded, followed by its location in an unbolded font. On a new line, list the degree you received and your major course of study. If you graduated, list the month and year of graduation. If you are awaiting graduation, list it as “Degree Anticipated [Month,] [Year].” Additionally, you may list your minor(s) on a new line.

Use a bulleted list to document achievements, relevant coursework, or awards earned throughout your time at college.  

Skill

If you developed any particular skills or experience with programs and apps that are applicable to the position you’re applying for, mention those on your resume.

It’s important to mention the hard skills you possess — these are technical skills that can be taught and mastered, such as writing for advertising or coding. Then, list your soft skills — those personality traits that make you a good employee, such as “collaborative” or “detail-oriented.” This gives the hiring manager an overall picture of the kind of employee you would be.

List your skills in a concise bulleted list. Only include those that are relevant to the job you are applying for. The remainder of your skills can be discussed during interviews.

Experience

If you participated in any internships throughout college, highlight them in the experience section of your resume. Be sure to include any leadership experience, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities you took part in. Additionally, if you worked part time or for a work-study, include those job experiences, but only if they’re relevant to the position you’re applying for.

This section should be formatted with the name of the position you held and the company you worked for in bold font, then the dates of employment, followed by a bulleted list of the relevant experience that you have.

References

Including references in your resume demonstrates that you left a favorable impression on past teachers, mentors, and employers. Providing potential employers with professional references makes it easy for them to get a second opinion on your character.

When citing references, be sure to include their name, their preferred method of contact, and their relationship to you. Furthermore, make sure that your contact is aware you listed them as a reference. You don’t want the hiring manager catching them off guard.

Finally, friends and family members shouldn’t be references. Instead, list people such as professors, colleagues, or former bosses, as they will be able to best speak to your capabilities.

Tips for Writing a College Resume

Below are some writing tips to consider when you create your resume. These tips include, but are not limited to:

  • Use action verbs to describe your achievements, such as:
    • Lead.
    • Train.
    • Research.
    • Create.
    • Master.
    • Achieve.
    • Cultivate.
    • Design.
    • Partner.
    • Initiate.
  • Quantify experiences to showcase your achievements.
    • For example: You were the president of a club of 20 members, or you were able to fundraise $1,000, or you increased site traffic by 65%.
  • Edit and proofread carefully.
    • This is a vital part of creating a resume. Hiring managers will often discredit resumes with spelling and grammatical errors. Demonstrate that you have taken time and consideration with your application by triple checking for silly errors.

College Resume Template

Using this template, fill in the brackets with your own information to create a good college resume.

[Your Full Name.]

[Address.]
[City, State Zip.]
[Phone Number.]
[Professional Email.]

Introduction/Career Objective
[In a paragraph format, summarize your experience and overall professional goals.]

Education

  • [School Name, Location.]
  • [Major, Date of Graduation.]
  • [Minor, if applicable.]
    • [Achievement.]
    • [Award.]
    • [Relevant coursework.]

Skills

  • Hard Skills:
    • [Hard Skill #1.]
    • [Hard Skill #2.]
    • [Hard Skill #3.]
  • Soft Skills:
    • [Soft Skill #1.]
    • [Soft Skill #2.]
    • [Soft Skill #3.]

Experience

  • [Name of Position — Company.]
  • [Dates Worked.]
    • [Relevant experience.]
  • [Name of Position — Company.]
  • [Dates Worked.]
    • [Relevant experience.]

References

  • [Name of Reference — Relationship.]
    • [Preferred contact method.]
  • [Name of Reference — Relationship.]
    • [Preferred contact method.]

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This post was updated February 24, 2020. It was originally published February 24, 2020.