How to Build a Strong Résumé While in College

December 18, 2017 Student Life

Building a strong skilled-based résumé while you’re in college is the first step to positioning yourself for the workforce and landing a job after graduation. It’s the one asset that can set you apart to edge out the competition.

Sean Manning, internship coordinator of career services at Vaughn College, weighed in on how to structure a powerful résumé and offered tips on what to include and what to leave out.

Manning says it’s best to divide your résumé into sections, so you can highlight your successes and accomplishments. Follow this simple structure to build a strong résumé:

#1 Professional Summary/Profile

This section focuses on why you are qualified for the job. Outline what qualities you possess and what experiences you have gained while in college that make you the best candidate for the job.

#2 Education

List the college you’re attending, your expected graduation date and all relevant coursework that applies to your field.

#3 Honors, Awards and Achievements

Here you can boast about yourself and list any scholarships you’ve received, in addition to any academic awards and accolades.

#4 Academic Experience

Pay close attention to this section as it can be the selling point to get your résumé to the top of the pile. In this section, you want to list any notable group projects and/or research projects you worked on. Be sure to highlight any leadership roles you held during the project and any software you used (e.g., Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or specialized technical software). Most importantly, describe the process of how you reached your end goal. If you are a student in the technology field, for example, be sure to describe the methodology you followed and any special equipment you utilized.

Here is how information for academic experience should be listed:

  • Name of the project
  • The date it was completed
  • The goal of the project
  • The process used―and what you learned

#5 Work Experience

Since students aren’t expected to have much employment experience, it’s important to list any volunteer work in this section along with any paid and non-paying jobs. Be sure to list the skills you gained.

#6 Skills

This section should highlight various skills you’ve achieved. These include industry and technical skills, such as design, programming, electronics, and software skills (e.g., Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint). Remember that for software skills, it’s important to list your level of experience and to specify the functions you are proficient in.

If you are a bilingual student, use this section to list the languages you speak and if you are proficient in written, conversation or both.

#7 Non-Technical Skills

List any non-technical skills you have learned, such as public speaking, solution selling, customer service or calendar management, among others.

Below is a helpful “do’s and don’ts” chart that can be used to build a standout résumé. Save or print this chart so that it’s readily available whenever you need it!

Download Resume Do’s and Don’ts Chart


Vaughn College Career Services

The career services department at Vaughn is dedicated to ensuring every student has the tools and knowledge they need to succeed, feel free to call us or drop-in at any time!