Student Resume Examples & Writing Tips: How To Write Your First Resume

So, you have never needed a resume before. But now you do. You are about to graduate and you need a resume to apply for your first professional position. But, you have no idea where to start and so you start scouring the internet, searching for student resume examples.

If you are a new graduate or soon-to-be-graduate who will be entering the job market, you may be a bit anxious.

You’ve probably come across job openings that sound interesting, but you notice that you’re lacking some of the desired qualifications. Is it okay to apply anyway? In most cases, it’s worth taking a chance. But you need a resume to position you for those jobs. So where to start?

Writing your first resume does not have to be difficult. Just remember the purpose: to get you the opportunity to interview for the job. Everything you do — and include — should focus on this goal.

Guidelines for Writing Your Student Resume

  • Your resume should be targeted to be effective. If you don’t know what you want, it’s going to be difficult for the reader to know. The first step is to determine what skills, experience, and education are needed for your target job.

  • Understand that your resume should not include everything you’ve ever done. It still needs to be honest, but you don’t need to list every job you’ve ever held. Nor do you have to list every aspect of the responsibilities that you held.

  • When you submit your resume for any opening, it’s very likely that your resume will go into an applicant tracking system (ATS), which is software that helps hiring managers track applications and select which candidates to interview. Take the time to learn about ATS and what works and what won’t work in an ATS.

  • Resumes are not “one size fits all.” You can’t expect a resume focused on one type of role to open doors for you in another career field. A resume written for a job as a dental hygenist is not likely to generate interviews for a role as a sales professional. Nor is a resume written for a retail manager going to work for someone applying as an executive assistant. There may be aspects of the resume that you can use in both versions of the resume, but you can’t use the same document.

  • The most important thing to remember is: Your resume is not about what you want — it’s what you can offer to an employer. Everything you put in your resume should relate to the job that you’re seeking, demonstrating to the hiring authority what you can do for the company in that position. When trying to decide whether or not something is relevant, think about the hiring manager.

Before and After Student Resume Example

You should never copy a resume. It simply won’t work for you if it isn’t yours, and that is true no matter how good the resume is. Even if the copied resume lands you an interview, you need to be able to speak to the experience and accomplishments described.

You not only have to walk the walk, you have to talk the talk.

But, there is so much you can learn by studying student resume examples that have been professionally written.

The before version of this student resume example for a student uses dated techniques such as placing a generic objective statement at the top. While a qualifications summary or profile section is the current standard and best practice, many older books and even some college career centers are still teaching students to include an objective on college student resumes.

The body of the before resume had many other problems, including a format that “screamed” entry-level candidate, content that emphasized job responsibilities rather than accomplishments, and data that was working against the newly graduated student, actually helping employers to screen the resume out rather than in.

The professionally rewritten version of the student resume includes a summary section that sets the focus for the resume, and makes an immediate and compelling case for the value this job seeker had to add to an employer.

The bulleted competencies at the top ensure that critical keywords have been included in the resume while providing a way to promote the qualifications and knowledge this young professional offers, much of it gained from college courses.

The body of the resume has been rewritten to really emphasize the most relevant experience while highlighting accomplishments that differentiate this graduating student from other job seekers.

Student Resume Before E1302809498888Student Resume After

Don’t Forget the Visual Appearance of Your First Resume

Your student resume should be designed to appeal to a human reader, even if it initially will be electronically submitted (and likely will go through applicant tracking system software).

Not everyone has the design skills to create a standout resume. If you choose to use a resume template, make sure you use one that is not only attractive but is ATS friendly. Most of the resume templates that you find for free or for sale on the internet are NOT compatible with ATS systems and this can destroy your job search results. The resume templates from Distinctive Resume Templates are specifically designed to be ATS friendly in addition to being visually attractive. There are also many that have been created specifically for students or other entry-level professionals to create their first resume.

Here are some student resume example templates. Click on each for more information.

Student Resume Examples & Writing Tips: How To Write Your First Resume
Student Resume Examples & Writing Tips: How To Write Your First Resume
Student Resume Examples & Writing Tips: How To Write Your First Resume

More Tips For Writing Your First Resume

  • Have a clear job target in mind. If you’re applying for similar positions within a career field, the body of your resume won’t change too much. But you will want to customize it with keywords and specific phrases that tie into the position as well as the culture of the company you want to work for. Don’t have a specific company in mind? Find job postings for 3-5 positions you’d be interested in and use these to inform the content you include.

  • Focus on accomplishments. It’s often said that “past performance is the best predictor of future results.” Hiring managers can get a sense of what you can do for them by what you’ve accomplished in your previous jobs. Employers want to hire people who can generate results for them. Outlining the challenges you tackled, the actions you took to solve the problem, and the results you generated can be a powerful way to attract the attention of a hiring manager. Quantify the results in your resume in terms of numbers (money and percentages are particularly powerful). Don’t have employment experience? You can still fill your first resume with accomplishments. Try writing about your successes in internships, volunteer positions, or even education-related projects you’ve worked on.

  • Follow conventional style. Resumes use a unique style of writing that emphasizes brevity. Resumes use a version of first-person style, but omit the subject (“I,” “me,” and “my”) and most articles (“a,” “an,” “the,” “my,” etc.), except when doing so would negatively impact the readability of the sentence. Use present tense for activities currently being performed, and past tense for past activities and achievements. Resumes are written in a strong, active style that emphasizes action verbs (“direct,” “manage,” “develop,” etc.”) instead of passive descriptions of activity (“responsible for,” etc.).

  • Experience is experience, even if you didn’t get paid for it. This is essential to understand when you are writing your first resume. If some of your best accomplishments and most impressive experience comes from volunteer work, include it! Where have you gained experience through projects, internships, leadership roles, and community service?

  • Proofread it, then proofread it again. Print it out, set it aside for at least a day, and then come back and read it with a fresh set of eyes. Look for misspellings, inaccuracies in job titles and dates of employment, and grammatical errors.

  • Don’t go it alone. If you are overwhelmed by the idea of how to put these principles into action, consult with a professional resume writer. You can book a free Discovery Consultation with Distinctive Career Services here. The time and money you invest in having your resume professionally prepared may not only shorten your job search and help you land the interview, but it can give you confidence by arming you with a powerful job search tool that can help guide the interviewer to discover you’re exactly what the company needs!

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit

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