How to Make Your Resume Stand Out When You’re a Student

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Jobs and internships are often extremely competitive. A resume could be your golden ticket — if it’s done right. And that means starting to think about it long before it comes time to share it with your dream employer.

Every high school and college student needs to have a resume. And build upon it as they grow and get more experience.

“A resume is not going to get you the job,” says MaryEllen Ryan, senior associate director at Bentley’s Undergraduate Career Services. “But it is going to get you noticed for the interview.”

Showcasing education, experience, awards and interests is something that anyone can put down on paper — no matter how old you are. The key is knowing how to build an enticing and effective resume that will stand out from the crowd. Even a simple addition, subtraction or slight alteration can mean the difference between you and another final-round candidate.

The rules vary depending on where you are in your career. Ryan has these suggestions to help students create a stand-out resume:

1) Use Space Wisely
Leave off an objective or executive summary when you’re a student. Instead, expand on your professional experience, relevant coursework, leadership and extracurricular involvement.

2) Broaden (and Tailor) Your Experience
Don’t just focus on only professional experience. Include community and school involvement as well.

“Recruiters are looking for well-rounded students,” shares Ryan. “Having internship experience is wonderful, but it’s probably not enough when competition is stiff.”

Examples to include on your resume: serving on the board of a student organization, being captain of an athletic team, acting as project manager for a service-learning program.

Think about interesting things you’ve done that have honed skills employers might find interesting. Did you organize a charity event, like these Bentley students did? Did you travel to another country and learn about different culture, like these Bentley students did during their trip to Chile.

3) Incorporate Your Strengths
Highlight skills such as communication, organization, teamwork, attention to detail and ability to multi-task. Sharing these kinds of traits will help employers figure out if you’re a good fit for the company culture and structure. And don’t forget to list computer skills and foreign languages (with your level of proficiency).

4) Include Numbers and Figures
Very few people use numbers and statistics when showcasing their accomplishments on a resume, but doing so is a sure way to stand out. Quantifiable evidence makes a much stronger impact than a simple explanatory sentence does.

This can seem hard to do if you’re a student. You’re just starting out and may not have a lot of experience to pull from. So be creative. Include how much money you saved a school club, how many events you organized for a local charity or how many students you supervised while working at a summer camp.

5) Use Industry Buzzwords
Internships and past jobs will speak for themselves, but interweaving buzzwords associated with a given industry throughout your resume will certainly attract attention.

“Find keywords and specific skills in the job description, and make sure your resume ties into that if appropriate,” suggests Ryan.

Replacing dull words with strong ones that reflect your line of work is actually quite simple, and prompts the employer to gain trust in your experience. It shows that you know the latest trends and techniques that people in your field value.

6) Be Honest and Don’t Embellish
If you’re truly not advanced in Excel, for example, don’t put that you’re advanced in Excel. Honesty is key. (Yes, it’s as simple as that.)

7) Leave No Room for Error
According to LinkedIn, the typical recruiter takes a mere six-second glance at each resume before tossing it into a yes or no pile.

This leaves absolutely no room for errors of any kind, especially grammatical errors. Spelling and punctuation mistakes stand out as red flags and will most likely make any other information on your resume, no matter how outstanding it may be, irrelevant to the employer.

Ask a friend, family member, professor or career services adviser to proofread your resume, and have materials reviewed regularly and whenever you make updates. (You can even check out the Bentley Writing Center for help with resumes or other papers.)

8) Use Consistent Formatting
The following should be consistent throughout your resume:

  • font style: conservative, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica
  • font size: the body 10-12 point, and your name larger
  • line spacing: single
  • margins: top/bottom, left/right
  • bullets: size, shape, alignment
  • dashes: size, spacing between text
  • dates: format and alignment
  • section headers: all CAPS, bold, underline

9) Be Ready to Explain
You should be comfortable talking about any points on your resume.

“One of the places where students get themselves into a little bit of trouble in interviews is when they can’t completely explain what their resume says,” says Ryan.

Practice by doing mock interviews with friends, so you get used to freely talking about your experience without stumbling.

Think it terms of telling stories. Don’t just say what you did. Tell a more in-depth story of how you did it. Relate a specific story that brings your example to life and tell the employer even more about you.

See how Bentley uses InterviewStream web-based mock interview program for interview preparation.

 

Now that you’re resume-ready, the job interviews will hopefully start flooding in. Keep the good work going and follow these expert tips on how to ace your interview.

 

 

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Bentley University, where your education prepares you for a life of interesting challenges and even more interesting ideas and answers. From your first day on campus, you’ll study what makes the world work – fundamentals of business and markets – AND what the world thinks – the broad perspective of the arts and sciences. It’s a powerful combination with limitless opportunity.