For students, the classic paradox when it comes to applying for jobs is that it seems as though every company wants you to have prior work experience – but you need a job to get that experience in the first place!
Writing a resume without lots of work experience to bulk it out can feel impossible, but you can successfully highlight your suitability as a candidate by drawing on other experience, certifications and achievements.
This post covers a few top ways to write a brilliant student resume.
Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for
A standard resume that’s been sent out to each and every job advert is fairly obvious for a recruiter to spot, and won’t make a great impression compared to a resume you’ve edited to be specific for the job at hand.
For example, you should be referring back to the job advert to check what skills, qualifications and experience they’re seeking and ensuring that your resume reflects these attributes, highlighting why you’re right for that specific job.
Include a cover letter
Likewise, tailoring your cover letter to the job you’re applying for is an absolute must. Your cover letter is your opportunity to expand on the parts of your resume that really highlight the skills and experience that are applicable to the job you’re applying for, as well as including any more personal statements about your interest in the company and role.
A good basic format for your cover letter is:
- Introducing yourself and why you are getting in touch (i.e. to apply for the role)
- A brief 2-3 sentences on why you are suitable for the role
- Any other skills and attributes you could bring to the role
- Anything extra you would like to say – for example, if you have a personal interest in the company because of their mission, values, background etc.
Include volunteering and extracurricular activities
A student’s resume is going to be slightly different from a typical resume because you may have less work experience than most.
A good way to get around this is to emphasise any volunteering, unpaid work experience, and extra-curricular activities you’ve done to give you similar skills and experience to a paid job. For example, if you have helped out with your school or university newspaper, joined a society, volunteer in your spare time etc., these are all great things to highlight on your resume.
Highlight achievements, certifications, qualifications
Place a focus on your achievements, certifications and qualifications that are relevant to the job you’re applying for – especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience to demonstrate your skills.
Think about achievements you might have from both inside and outside of education: computer skills, achievements that demonstrate leadership, critical thinking, social skills and qualifications that make you a viable candidate.
As a student, the recruiter won’t necessarily be looking for lots of experience, but if you can demonstrate that you’ve got the skills and attributes they’re looking for in other ways, this will put you a step ahead of other applicants.
Format your resume correctly
Never forget that a recruiter is looking through hundreds of resumes every day – the last thing you want is to confuse them with a poorly formatted document.
The typical resume format is:
- Your name and contact information
- Personal statement (1-2 sentences)
- Work experience
- Other achievements/qualifications
Keep your font standard and simple, use headings and bullet points where necessary, and try to avoid boring and predictable phrases. As a general rule, your CV should be no more than two pages – but if you don’t have much work experience, one page will be fine.
Write a personal statement
Your personal statement is a short paragraph that sits at the top of your resume and essentially acts as a summary of who you are, in a professional sense. This post offers a useful breakdown on what to include in your personal statement to make a real impact on the recruiter reviewing your resume.
Most importantly of all, don’t lie – ever! Being honest about lacking experience or one skill the recruiter is looking for (but with an eagerness to learn) will reflect far more positively than lying only to be caught out during the interview process, or even in a trial.
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