A College Student’s Ultimate Guide To Resume-Writing — With Examples!

guide to resume writing

So you’re in college now and, well, shit’s getting real. Like really real. Like, you need to find a part-time job or internship to gain experience real. One of your most valuable assets when applying for said job and/or internship is your resume, and truthfully, it can be really hard to write one! I’ve written and re-written my resume so many times this past year in college because every time I thought I had concocted the perfect way to show employers why they should hire me, I realized that no, I hadn’t — I was always missing something, and that something can really make your resume! So to help you not make the same mistakes that I did, here’s my little guide on resume-writing so you can totally land that position.

P.S., I may or may not also have a guide specifically about internships. Be sure to check out Part One and Part Two!

Use a simple and clean format. 

Your resume really isn’t a competition to see which applicant has the best decorating ability. Even when you apply to really creative or expressive positions you shouldn’t try to add fancy borders and garnishes. I do agree that a very monochromatic resume can be bland, so what I like to do is add a single, colored line right at the very top underneath my name and contact info — like this:  Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 1.51.42 PM

Don’t mind the blue bars, they’re just there to hide my more personal info. My pink line is a nice break from black and white, and it’s really simple and doesn’t require much thought. It also nicely separates my name and contact info from the rest of my resume.

Put your name where everyone can see it (and know that it’s your name!)

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See that? That is a very painful screenshot of my first resume *shudder* that I prepared for my college’s job fair. In case you were wondering, I did not walk away from that job fair with a job. My name and contact info are all formatted to the lefthand margin. I also included my phone number, my email address, campus address, and permanent address. As you can see, my email couldn’t fit in the tiny space so it took up two lines. Same goes for my addresses. This all just looks cramped and just NO. A lady at the job fair even had to ask me if that was my name up there in blue!

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 1.51.42 PM

I highly recommend centering all your essential information. My name is written in big, bold, black letters where everyone can recognize it, and write under it I have my address, phone number, and email all in one single, convenient line that doesn’t look cramped in any way, shape, or form.

Stay away from fancy fonts. 

And use fonts that are easy to read, too. Nothing on your resume needs to be written in any form of script, nor do you need bubble letters of any kind.

Keep your profile short and sweet! 

You’ve probably heard that employers only spend about 30-60 seconds looking over your resume. While I can’t speak for employers, people probably say this with good reason! Make sure you get right to the point with your profile. It should essentially be a summary of your best qualities and what you hope to do with those qualities. Here’s mine:

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So I basically described myself (diligent, fast learner, etc.) and said that I was looking to contribute my skills to a well-rounded team. Short and sweet! Note that my profile is literally two sentences long!

Make sure everything is READABLE. 

I used to be under the impression that your resume should be one page or less. That actually applies to cover letters (which I already knew) but I was literally stressed about having a resume that continued on a second page. So to combat my worries I’d type all my words in size nine font. Never do this. Don’t sacrifice readability for space. Honestly, it just makes your resume look very cluttered and hard to read, and an employer would probably give up on trying.

Use bold face to set sections apart. 

Where does your list of experiences end and your skills begin? Playing around with bold face can make sections stand out better for the sake of organization, neatness, and ease of access. This is what I did:

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Now, I definitely should’ve made ‘Profile’ and ‘Experience’ black instead of gray, but that’s what happens when you use a resume template that comes with your computer!

edit1

Ah, that’s better. Another way I would try to improve this part of my resume is by going easy on the all caps. I find that all caps all over the place is a bit hard visually and not always appealing.

Really think about all of your relevant experience before you hit ‘send’! 

This is probably the biggest reason why I had to keep revising my resume in between applications. I thought that my roles as an EIC, contributing author, college CERT member, and teaching assistant were the only things I should include. I completely forgot about the articles I had written for Thought Catalog, Thought Couture, and I had forgotten to list my social media experience as a Snapchat content creator, even though it was a one-time thing. Hell, I even forgot to list THIS BLOG as relevant experience! Even though I had only written one article for Thought Couture and two articles for Thought Catalog, they were still really excellent pieces of experience that I FORGOT to add earlier. Remember, you can’t hit ‘send’ on that resume attachment and then email the employer again like, ‘jk I forgot to add something.’

Be able to say what you did for each piece of experience in two sentences.

I know, I know, you want to really show potential employers that you learned so much from your past positions and you can’t possibly fit all your knowledge into a couple of lines. Honestly, try to save your learning outcomes for the interview. Use your resume to say exactly what you gave to your past organizations.

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Bam. There you have it — exactly what I did as a Snapchat content creator. I showed that this particular project was for a major event, I showed that a major media organization trusted me to use their company’s social media tools, and I used adjectives such as ‘fun,’ and ‘informative’ to describe my work — all in just two sentences! Here’s another look at how I kept things concise:

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 3.20.51 PMOn this version of my resume, I did NOT forget to mention the fact that I have a blog!

Don’t include any type of high school information.

I got this pro tip from a career advisor at my college’s career center. When I went to see her, I was a sophomore (no longer fresh out of high school) so she told me not to mention high school information. I didn’t even need to list the name of my high school under my Education section. Not even the names of my honor societies. You’re in college so you need to show what you’ve been doing in college. The only reason you should have for including high school experience is if you’re a freshman and don’t haven’t held a position during your college years yet.

Don’t include references on your resume.

This is also a pro tip from the career advisor (and a mistake that was written all over the first 30 copies of my resume I printed). If an employer asks for a list of references (at all), it would be after receiving your resume and cover letter. If you’re asked for a separate list of references, be sure to give your separate list the same format as your resume’s!

Include social media handles.

Yes, you can totally include your Twitter and Instagram handles on your resume…as long as they will help you and not hurt you! If your Twitter profile is full of curse words and content that employers wouldn’t consider professional, you definitely don’t want to include this information. I’m a journalism major and a lot of my tweets (almost all of my tweets!) are article links to my content and links to other extremely enjoyable articles I’ve found. I probably should’ve included my handle with my contact info…oh well next time! Likewise, if you’re seeking a photography or visual position, it would do you good to include your Instagram handle…as long as your Instagram contains quality photos that are representative of what you can offer the company.

Don’t be modest about your skills! 

And don’t forget about some of the ‘basic’ ones like Microsoft Office and Google Apps (because I did at first!) It’s actually good to see that you understand and can use these updates. I also label this section as my ‘Skills/Credentials’ section because as I have gone through two years of college already, I have gained some certifications that would be great to talk about during an interview. This is also a good place to say what languages you’re fluent in, or have conversational ability in.

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I like separating my skills using a semicolon. One thing I’d do differently in the future is tighten up my organization. I start off by saying ‘writes effectively’ then I get into some skills I’ve picked up, then somewhere in the middle I describe myself as ‘punctual,’ ‘effective listener,’ etc. It feels a bit choppy to me, so in the future I’d definitely put those ideas closer together.

Don’t bullshit about your skills!

When I wrote my first resume, I stated that two of my skills were HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I tried to self-teach HTML and CSS and I forgot half of what I looked at, and I had taken a college class on JavaScript (which I did terribly in). My rule of thumb if you’re not sure if something should be added as a skill is: if you need to essentially completely re-teach yourself how to do something, it shouldn’t be on your resume. If you get the position, you’ll likely have to use those skills ASAP so there’s no time for tutorials on YouTube. Needless to say, I got rid of those ‘skills’ from resume.

These are some of the things I’ve learned when crafting a resume that will make employers interested. Of course, I’m no professional resume writer, nor do I claim to be, but the great thing is that this is all spoken from my (good and bad) experiences!

What are your tips for writing resumes? Comment below or tweet them to me @jay_su_ using #macaronsandmascara 

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Jasmin - Macarons & Mascara