Preparing a resume can often be difficult for college students, even graduates, because their work experience is typically limited. Even so, there really should be no difference between a college student resume and a professional resume reflecting several years of experience.
Begin by identifying the type of work that you wish to do, then identify the skills and the criteria that potential employers will be looking for in prospective candidates. Finally, include anything else regarding yourself that would be relevant to the type of work you want to perform and your skills and training.
One thing that should be kept in mind when you are preparing a resume for your career search is that prospective employers do not usually expect students or even new graduates to possess large amounts of applied or hands-on experience. So, what are employers looking for in an entry-level candidate’s resume?
It is important to keep in mind that while employers might not be looking for experience in an entry-level candidate, they are looking for other characteristics such as work ethics, motivation, character and leadership traits. As a result, it is important to make sure that even if your last job was at the local food court that you focus on highlighting those characteristics that will allow you to excel in the position that you are targeting. This can be accomplished through a summary section on your resume that includes information on your interpersonal skills, problem solving skills, time management skills, etc.
When you are applying for a position as a college student or graduate, it is also important to make sure that you highlight your educational achievements as well. As a student, your education is your primary selling point. As a result, you should lead your resume with your educational achievements. Even if you do not have any related work history, you can give prospective employers a sense of the value that your education provided by including your GPA and course lists.
Finally, while experience is not expected, it certainly can give you a competitive edge. So, what do you do it you do not have any paid work experience? Do not despair. Just because you do not have any paid work experience to reference during your career search that does not mean that you do not have valuable and relevant experience. Make sure that you include internships and any other experience that might be relevant to the position that you are targeting. Also, include any unrelated paid experience in which you can focus on skills that are transferable to other fields. Unpaid volunteer experience such as college service and community service positions can also allow you to focus on transferable skills as well.