Monday, September 3, 2018

A College Student's Career Guide:
How to Write a Resume

Career advice for college students. This blog post will give you resume template, resume tips, resume design, and resume examples. Improve your resume skills with this blog post.

Yay! I'm so excited that you're taking your first step towards your career! I know writing a resume may seem intimidating at first, but trust me, it's not as bad as you think it is. Setting it up is the worst part. I'm not going to lie; it's kind of tedious, annoying, and kind of overwhelming. But, it's an important step towards your professional growth, which is why I tackled this monster of a task to write out a guide on how to write a resume!

When you're sending out your resume, you're basically advertising yourself to employers. Like an advertisement, you need to make it compelling and interesting, otherwise, the employers will lose interest. Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing a resume, which is why it's important to make sure it's perfect. But how do you start? Read this post, A College Student's Career  Guide: How to Write a Resume, to find out how!

Step 1: Choose Your Resume Format

There are three types of resume formats. There's reverse-chronological, functional, and combination.

The reverse-chronological resume is the most traditional and most commonly used. This can be used by anyone at any level. In this format, your employment history is written from most recent to least recent. That is, your most recent job will be on the top and your least recent is on the bottom.

On the other hand, a functional resume focuses on skills and experience. This one is most typically used for career changers, people who have large gaps in their employment history, and/or if you're applying for a job that doesn't have a direct relation to your experience.

Then, there's a combination resume. As the name suggests, this format is a combination of the reverse-chronological and the functional formats. Like the functional format, it highlights your skills. It's usually used by people who have some experience under their belt, if the job requires more technical skills, or if you want to move into another industry.

Since you're probably a college student, I'll go over how to write a reverse-chronological resume. If you suspect you need the functional resume, click here to redirect yourself to ResumeGenius's article on how to write a functional resume. If you think you'll need a combination resume, click here to go to ResumeGenius's article on how to write a combination resume.

Step 2: Figure out your resume topic order.

Your resume topic order depends on a number of things, like your experience, what you're applying for, and if you're still in school. I'm writing this for reference for students so this order will be in accordance with that, so the order may be a little different than someone who has experience in the field.

I. Name

II. Contact Info

Put your:
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • LinkedIn account (if applicable)

III. Education

Having this section before work experience is beneficial because it shows that you're a student or recently graduated.

If you're still a student, this will explain why you don't have much experience and will weed out the employers who aren't willing to go around your school schedule.

If you've recently graduated, this will explain why you don't have much experience in the field and if you have any work history gaps.

You don't need to put a lot in this section. You just need to put your:
  • School name
  • School location
  • Anticipated degree
  • Expected graduation date
  • GPA (if your GPA is higher than 3.0)

IV. Work Experience

This is your the main focal point of your resume. Even if you don't have direct experience in your industry, you can demonstrate transferable skills through your job descriptions. So, if there's any part of your resume that you want to make sure is strong, it's this. Typically, this section comes before education, but since you're still a student/recently graduated, this comes after.

1. You don't need to mention all of your jobs, just the most recent ones.
  • It's a good rule of thumb to delete anything high school related after 2 years of graduating high school.
  • If you quit something after a couple of months, you don't need to mention it.

2. Use bullet points. It makes it a lot easier and faster to read.
  • There should be at least 3 bullet points for each job position that you mention, but no more than 8. 
  • Always use action verbs. Click here for a list of action verbs from
  • Mention any achievements, especially quantifiable achievements. Trained and coached 4+ cashiers on all policies and procedures. 

3. If you get stuck on job descriptions, look up your position's job description on Google or Indeed and use them as inspiration.

4. Use your prospective employer's job description to your advantage.
  • If they're looking for someone analytical, put in some words or a job description to show that you're analytical. If they're looking for someone who is organized, mention something that shows that you're organized.
  • Most companies don't have a person looking through all of the resumes anymore. They use a software to search for keywords for that particular job position. So, optimize your resume!

5. Personalize your resumes for each internship/job you apply for.
  • Make a master resume where you put everything on it, like, all the jobs that you had, multiple job description bullets, extracurricular activities, etc. That way, you can pick and choose which jobs and job descriptions to use when you're personalizing your resume.

V. Additional Sections

Disclaimer: This was put in no particular order. Put whatever is most relevant to the job position first.

1. Additional Skills

This could be anything that would be useful, like, being proficient in Microsoft Office, fluent in more than one language (list the languages that you know out ), being highly skilled in social media, laboratory skills, etc.

2. Volunteer Work
Whether it's paid or unpaid, this is real-life experience. It also shows employers that you are a well-rounded individual.

3. Additional Experience
This can be workshops that you did to further improve your professional skill set. For example, I did a Research Skills workshop at a local community college.

4. Related Coursework
This is a tidbit that I got from my school's career services. This is meant for students that have absolutely no experience and can be put under your education before your work experience. If you have experience, I would completely omit this section.

Step 3: Resume Aesthetics

Number of Pages

Your resume should only really be one page. Your resume is similar to a Google search. We only really look at the first page. Rarely, do we even look at the second page, nevermind the third page.

If you really have more than a page worth of relevant skills and experience, then add it. But, to be honest, you may be able to play around with your job descriptions, font, font size, and margins to make it one page.


Always choose a readable font. And, stick with it throughout your whole resume even for your name. I know you want your name to stand out and it should. You're important. But you can do that through making your name slightly bigger than the rest of your resume, bolding it, and capitalizing it. You can also differentiate your resume topics to make it stand out more through bolding, italicizing, and/or capitalizing it.

Some common resume fonts are:
Times New Roman


Bookman Old Style

Century Gothic





Font size

It should be between 10.5 pt and 12 pt. But, this part kind of depends on the font that you choose because some fonts look great at 10.5 pt but too much at 12 pt. For your name, I've been told you can increase the size up to 2 pt.

Line breaks

Line breaks are great to break up information. It can add to the readability of your resume. One way to do it is to break up the different sections of your resume. But don't go too crazy with it because it can make it look messy. Here are a couple of examples of clean line break formats that I got from


The standard margin size is 1" on all sides. If you need to narrow the margins, that's fine but don't go lower than 0.5" on all sides. If you have to go to 0.5" on all sides, that's kind of pushing it because that is very word heavy and may decrease the readability of the resume.

Step 4: Edit and Revise

I hate editing and revising as much as you do. But this isn't one of your college papers that you can just write and blow off. This is about your career. So, go through it and read your descriptions out loud to make sure whatever you wrote makes sense. Check your grammar and spelling.

Step 5: Have someone else look at it.

If you know someone who is really good at resume writing or is in HR, you can ask them if they're willing to take a look at your resume. Most people are willing to help you out with stuff like this, so you don't have to worry about rejection as much. But if they say no, don't sweat it, you have other resources.

Another good to place to get your resume looked at is your school's career service center. Even if you've already graduated, you can use this as a resource. If your school is like mine, they welcome alumni to the career services, too.

The benefit of having it looked at is that you'll get some constructive criticism. They will be able to catch errors that you didn't catch while you were editing it. Plus, they might help you rewrite your job descriptions to make you sound better.

In addition to having those resumes up top to reference to, here are a couple of more resumes that you can draw inspiration from.

Thanks for reading! Remember, we're always rooting for your growth! If you thought this was helpful, share this with a friend that needs help with formatting their resume! Or on Pinterest, Facebook, and/or Twitter! 

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