Building a Winning Resume – Why It Can’t Wait Until Graduation

As a university student, you are naturally most concerned with concentrating on your studies – and that’s as it should be. At the same time however, you can never overlook the fact that you will soon become part of the employment world. And once you do, you will need a winning resume to help open up some doors. As hard as it is to believe, the best time to begin building that resume is now – it can’t wait until graduation.

Why should you begin working on building your resume while you’re still in school?

  • Just like a term paper, a resume isn’t a document that you prepare in an hour or two – not if it is to be effective. It will take time to develop and perfect it so that it will be the best professional representation of you possible.
  • Building a Winning Resume
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    You will probably want to experiment with several different formats before arriving at the one that you think is best for you.
  • There may be certain skills and experiences that you will need to begin acquiring now, before you actually go live with your job hunt.
  • You may need a resume in order to qualify for a paid internship.
  • You may also need a resume to help you land a part-time or summer job, or even a freelance gig.

What can you do to make your resume a winning one, particularly since you probably don’t have a strong employment history?

Don’t Make Your Resume Too Long – Or Too Short

Though it may not seem possible for a university student to have a resume that’s too long, that can sometimes be the exact outcome as the student looks to overcome a lack of substance with a long narrative. But whatever you do, you must resist the temptation to make your resume too long. One or two pages should be all that you need.

One of the reasons that you want to keep the resume on the short side is because the people who review them will have little interest in reading anything that is longer than two pages. They will figure out what your relevant skills are, probably on the first page, before deciding whether or not to proceed. Anything longer simply won’t be read. And as a university student, it can be pretty obvious that a long resume contains more than a little fluff.

Related: 10 Graduate Resume Tips

At the same time, you have to be careful that you don’t make the resume too short, mistakenly believing that a potential employer will fully understand your lack of experience and skills. At least one of the factors that employers will be evaluating from your resume is your ability to present yourself adequately. If your resume is too short – certainly if it’s less than one page – it will look weak and likely be passed over.

Go Heavy On The Skills You Have

As a university student/recent graduate, employers certainly don’t expect you to come to the table with much experience. But they do expect that you will have certain hands-on skills that are necessary in their industry. Skills are the foundation of a successful career – they are the “stock in trade” you bring to an employer. As such, any skills that you have that are consistent with your chosen career field should be listed and highlighted in your resume.

Naturally, you’ll want to include your education, but relevant skills can also include:

  • Specific coursework you have taken that relates to your field or to the job.
  • Any IT or computer software skills that you have that relate to the job; this can include business applications, social media skills, graphic design, or Internet skills you’ve acquired during your school years.
  • A foreign language, even if you’re not certain it that relates to the job. The fact that you can speak a foreign language might enable a potential employer to open up a new opportunity that you can spearhead.
  • Any skills that might cast you as an A List candidate; public speaking is an example, since so many people are terrified to do it.
  • Relevant personal experiences. For example, if you have done significant volunteer work, that could have appeal to an employer that emphasizes employee participation off the job.
  • Customer service or sales experience, if you have gained either through an after school job.

Study the job ads that relate to your major, and look for consistent requirements or desired skills. If you have any that are relevant to what you’re seeing in the ads, you should include them on your resume.

Related: Why You Need to Network Before You Graduate

Emphasize Experience, But Only If You Have Some

Naturally, if you have any work experience that is related to the position you are applying for, you’ll want to list these on your resume, and in some detail. But if they are simply part-time or summer jobs that you held to help pay your way through school, it might be best if you simply list the jobs in bullet fashion.

Avoid Providing Too Much Personal Information

Earlier we discussed avoiding having a resume that is longer than one or two pages, as it could be a tip that it contains too much fluff. Often that fluff is provided by stuffing the resume with personal information.

A resume should be a summary document of your business skills and experiences. It should not emphasize your personal experiences and preferences. As such, you should leave off personal information, such as your date of birth, your marital status or whether or not you have any children. In addition, unless it is clear that it will be relevant to the job you are applying for, it will be best to omit any information pertaining to hobbies and personal interests.

While it is often thought that these can make you appear to be a well-rounded candidate, they could also be a tip-off to the employer that your personal life is more important to you than your professional life.

If you are a university student, have you prepared a resume?

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10 years ago

I think you should start acquiring the skills and accomplishments you want to put on resume when you start college. This is true for your professional career too. Think ahead and get what you want or need to have for that next job. I even wrote an article about it called “Do You Resume Backwards!”

10 years ago
Reply to  krantcents

That makes a compelling case to start building your resume in your freshman year, that way you can begin acquiring the skills you’ll need to have by the time you gradate.

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