Résumé Tips for College Students

To succeed in a job search, it’s crucial for college students to understand how to successfully write a résumé. Résumés provide a concise way to display your professional skills and abilities and to help secure an interview. To create a solid résumé, here are some foolproof tips to keep in mind.

Constructing a Résumé

Although every résumé is unique, all share basic building blocks. No matter the professional field, each résumé should include these five elements:

  • An objective or summary. An objective expresses what you hope to professionally accomplish, while a summary is used to explain your qualifications. Both should be short. If you are new to the workforce or planning to switch careers, you should use an objective. Otherwise, a summary is appropriate.
  • Professional experience. This section should detail your previous work experience. Each job listing should include the name of a past employer, your job title, dates of your employment and the city and state of the company or organization. All job listings should also contain a bulleted list of your accomplishments. In résumé terms, an “accomplishment” is anything that saved an employer resources, money or time. When describing these elements, hard numbers and data are always helpful.
  • Skills and proficiencies. This section should include a bulleted list of skills you possess that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Proficiencies and skills can range from technical (Java) to widely applicable (managing others).
  • Education. Include your degree, the name of your alma mater, location, dates of attendance and if you graduated with honors. If space allows, include relevant coursework.
  • Contact information. A sometimes overlooked but always crucial element. This section should be prominent and located on the top or side of the document. List your name, street address, email, phone number and any professionally relevant social media accounts you want the employer to note.

Presenting Well

The résumé writing style is formal and assertive. This usually requires the use of action words. Use vocabulary that describes your work responsibilities in a competent and professional manner. The Muse offers some excellent examples:

If you…

  • Were in charge of a project: executed, operated, chaired, planned, programmed
  • Created or introduced a project: administered, founded, formed, devised, engineered
  • Improved cost-effectiveness: consolidated, deducted, reduced, yielded, conserved
  • Improved sales: accelerated, boosted, capitalized, generated, enhanced
  • Changed something for the better: influenced, centralized, modified, restructured, overhauled
  • Oversaw a team: cultivated, enabled, hired, directed, taught
  • Performed customer service: advised, educated, resolved, coached, arbitrated
  • Found or analyzed information: assessed, discovered, measured, qualified, investigated
  • Wrote or spoke: campaigned, briefed, corresponded, persuaded, reviewed
  • Managed things: screened, verified, authorized, itemized, ensured
  • Met goals: earned, reached, showcased, targeted, demonstrated

Standing Out

Finally, résumé writing often comes with unspoken rules. Follow these guidelines to make your résumé truly pop:

  • Keep your résumé to one page. Employers are less likely to read a lengthy résumé.
  • Make your document easy to read. This means using plenty of white space, choosing a plain and professional font and not making the type too big or too small. It also means aligning information of the same type so it can be easily found.
  • Always tailor it. It’s important for you to choose information and words based on the job description. It sometimes helps to think about which of your past professional experiences can meet certain needs the employer is trying to fill. A common pitfall is to include every work experience. This isn’t always necessary.
  • Don’t lie. Although this may sound obvious, it bears repeating. Lying on a résumé is a good way to get fired or prevent yourself from being hired in the first place. If you’re unsure about whether you are qualified for a position, you can speak to your strengths as a general employee and your ability to take direction and learn.

Preparing for Success

With a good résumé, the chances of landing the perfect job increase tremendously. At Illinois College Online, our supportive and professional environment gives you the credentials you need to succeed in the job market. Online programs offer flexibility and convenience, allowing you to earn your degree on a schedule that’s right for you.