As a college freshman, it can be hard to create a resume. The employers at the jobs and internships you may be applying for are not really interested in what you did in high school. Unfortunately, you have not been in college long enough to have resume-worthy experiences or awards.
When I first started creating my resume to apply for summer opportunities, I really did not know where to start. Luckily, my college has a great career and professional development center that helped me. It took a lot of time and work finding the right wording and qualifications, but I learned a lot from it.
Here are 10 pieces of advice for other freshmen in college looking to develop a stellar resume.
1. Think design basics
You want your resume to be easy to read. Most interviewers will just glance at it, so it is especially important that it is short and sweet. Some good guidelines are to use bullet points, use bold, italics, and underlines sparingly, and to use easy-to-read fonts.
2. Choose a format: reverse chronological order or functional/skills resume
Reverse chronological order resumes tend to focus on work history and growth whereas a functional resume focuses more on relevant skills. This is an area where you can tailor your resume to whatever you are applying to. Chronological resumes are better for individuals who are staying in the same field or have training/experience in the job they are applying to. A functional resume is more helpful for people changing careers or applying for a job that they do not have much training or experience.
3. Stick to one page
Unlike a high school resume which has as much information as possible over as many pages as needed, you do not want a resume that is more than one page. This should force you to choose experiences that are pertinent to the opportunity you are applying to and to keep things short. Interviewers are not going to take the time to look over a resume that is more than one page long.
4. Use strong action verbs
Use strong action verbs to describe experiences, skills, or activities. A good formula is an action verb, then core content, and the result, purpose, or impact of your action. A good list of action verbs to use in a resume can be found online.
5. Have a general resume, and then adapt it for specific jobs or purposes
It is important to tailor each resume to whatever you are applying to. But with that being said, having a general resume to work from will make this process much faster and easier.
6. No typos!
This should go without saying, but this is just a reminder. You do not make a very convincing case for hiring you when you can’t take the time to check the grammar and formatting of your resume.
7. Some high school experience is OK
A freshman in college is not going to have much from college that they can use on a resume, so it is OK to use some high school experience. That being said, it should be scarce, extremely relevant to the opportunity you are applying to and should be taken off after your freshman year.
8. Have clear categories
Of course, you will want the traditional categories such as education, relevant experience, skill, and activities and honors. But there are more specific categories that can be used to display certain attributes that are especially relevant to the job such as computer skills, academic projects, foreign languages, licenses and certifications, foreign travel experiences, relevant coursework, and memberships.
9. Use 0.5 margins to fit more on the page
To fit as much as you can on the page, use 0.5 margins. Filling an entire page may feel daunting, but trust me, you will appreciate a little wiggle room once you have put together all your information and experiences.
10. Send resume in PDF version
This prevents anyone from tampering with the document and makes sure the formatting is not messed up in the transfer.
11. Some color is OK, but mainly stick to black or dark gray text color
Color can make your resume more appealing and interesting. But most companies and organizations will print your resume, and none of them want to take the time and money to print it in color. So if your resume is in color or has some color, make sure it prints well.
12. 10 pt font for bullet points, 12 for contact info, and 16 for your name
Nothing, I repeat, nothing should be less than 10 point font. No one can read anything less than 10 pt font. And your name and information should also be immediately apparent, so make it bigger.
13. Include the month and year of your past jobs, experiences, and awards
Every job, membership, and award should have a month and date attached to it. Do not use specific days or general semesters.
14. Have a professional look at your resume
Never send in your resume without having a career counselor or some other career advisor look over your resume. They will help you catch dumb mistakes and word your resume better.
15. Look at examples
It's always helpful to have a template or example to follow. That being said, you also want to make your resume your own.