Resumes for College Students

As I work with college and high school leadership groups, I enjoy sharing insights on resumes - what works and the mistakes to avoid.  Here are a few high-level thoughts on resumes for college students. The Basics.  Grammar and spelling are foundational elements that must be accurate on the resume.  First impressions can make or break and in the recruiting game, many times your resume is your "first impression".  Mistakes in grammar and spelling are potential evidence of your lack of attention to detail and strength of (or lack of) written communication skills.

You vs. The Position.  Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for candidates that have relevant work experience related to the open position - for college students this could be internships or co-op experience. Do not waste your time or theirs posting for positions for which your background and experiences are not a match.

Content.  Many companies appreciate candidates that are active in the community, involved in campus leadership programs, have personal interests and other affiliations.  Include these in a separate section on the resume.  Also, ensure to write-out acronyms (e.g. system or project names) as these are not necessarily clear to hiring managers

Objectives vs. Summary.  I hear differing perspectives on whether or not to include an Objective or Summary of Qualifications on a resume.  I prefer a summary as it provides a quick snapshot of your skills, interests and abilities.  The Objective section on most resumes is typically wasted space and most hiring managers recognize that you change the words in this section based on the position for which you are applying.

Go Beyond the Resume.  I coach team members to take time to truly define their "personal brand" in addition to creating the standard resume.  This allows you to bring something additional to the interview and also is a tool for conveying additional facts and figures about yourself to the decision-maker.  Most candidates do not take time to create a "personal sales pitch" based on you, the individual, and this can separate you from the pack.