How to write an effective student resume
Writing a resume when you are still in school can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to showcasing your relevant experience. Luckily, there are many formatting and writing tricks you can have up your sleeve to make your student resume competitive and compelling.
In this guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about writing a resume as a student. Keep reading to learn how to:
- Choose a format that focuses less on work experience
- Write a resume summary that expresses your best skills
- Include a wide variety of hard & soft skills on your resume
- Describe extracurricular & volunteer experience in your work history
- List your academic credentials & awards properly
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1. Choose the best format for your student resume
No matter if you are a high school, college, or higher education student, the first crucial step to writing your student resume is to choose the best format for your needs.
Generally, applicants who are current students will have limited formal work experience, but an extensive academic background. Along with coursework, this may include extracurriculars, student assistantships, internships, and volunteer work.
The best format for this type of experience is the functional resume. Functional resumes do not focus on work experience as a standard reverse-chronological resume would. Instead, this format focuses much more heavily on education, skills, and unpaid experience.
Of course, if you do have some work experience, you may want to opt for the more traditional reverse-chronological resume or a hybrid resume format. Reverse-chronological resumes focus on your most recent job first and work backward from there, making the work experience section the largest on the document. Hybrid resumes, by contrast, spread the focus out more evenly between all sections.
Choose your preferred template and make your resume shine.
2. Write a resume summary that expresses your best skills
Your resume summary is a short statement that summarizes your best attributes as a professional or as a student. This can include your credentials, accomplishments, or goals, but should always focus primarily on providing compelling details to catch the attention of the reader.
To help illustrate how to write a strong resume summary, here is an incorrect example followed by a correction and explanation.
Incorrect student resume summary example
Current high school student who is looking for part-time employment in the automobile and mechanic industry. Has taken multiple shop classes working directly with automobiles and can provide a recommendation from the teacher. Strong and hard-working football player.
Why is this incorrect?
When you write your resume summary, you want to think not only about including relevant information but also about how you word things to sound engaging and intriguing. This summary includes vital information about the student and their goals, but ultimately fails to grab the attention of the reader due to the poor writing and lack of specificity.
Corrected student resume summary
Hard-Working High School Student with a strong interest in beginning a career as a mechanic. 2+ years of experience working with automobiles in a supervised classroom setting, with a letter of recommendation from supervising teacher available upon request. Team-player with strong leadership and collaboration skills from serving as the football team’s co-captain.
Why is this correct?
In this corrected example, the student includes a lot of the same information but with greater context and specific facts to back up their claims. The sentences have a better overall flow that gives the person reading the summary a clear oversight of who this student is and what their goals are.
3. Include a wide variety of hard & soft skills on your student resume
As a student, you have probably heard your teachers or professors say you need to hone your skills – but did you know there are two distinct types of skills you can have?
These two types of skills are known as hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills refer to your technical and learned abilities, such as athletics or computer skills. These abilities take time and commitment to obtain, making them key qualifications for specific jobs.
Soft skills, comparatively, refer to your interpersonal and intellectual abilities that allow you to collaborate with others and understand the world around you. These can be both inherent and learned, and include things such as people skills and communication.
Including both types of skills on your resume shows the person reading it that you understand the importance of having both kinds.
With this in mind, here are 10 ideas for both hard and soft skills that are great for a student’s resume:
The best student hard skills to put on your resume
- Athletic ability (strength, stamina, specific sports, etc.)
- Computer skills (typing, web browsing, researching, etc.)
- Computer software (Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud)
- Google workspace
- Fluency in foreign languages
- Creating presentations
- Public speaking
- Critical reading & note-taking
Effective soft skills for your student CV
- Teamwork & collaboration
- Written & verbal communication
- Calmness under pressure
4. Describe extracurricular & volunteer experience in your student work history
If you are in high school or college and have never worked a formal job, it is likely difficult to write a standard resume that focuses on paid work experience.
It is important to remember that employers who are willing to hire current students are often aware that you may not have an extensive work history. Despite this, most students will have a variety of extracurricular or volunteer experiences that can be subbed in for formal work experience.
For instance, if you are a high school student and serve as the captain of a sports team, you can use this position as an entry in your work experience section. Additionally, rather than name the section “Work Experience,” name it something more fitting like “Hands-On Experience” or simply “Experience.”
Here is an example of a work experience entry from a student resume
Grayson County High School
Debate Team Captain
August 2020 to Present
- Organized a team of 30+ students to meet and practice debating weekly.
- Researched and fact-checked more than 100 debate drafts, providing corrections and feedback when needed.
- Re-elected for the captain position in May 2021 for the 2021-2022 school year.
5. List your academic credentials & awards on your student resume
On a standard resume for established professionals, the education section should generally be kept short and sweet. However, student resumes often lack extensive work histories, leaving more room to expand on academic credentials and experience.
When listing an ongoing diploma or degree, it is important to note this to employers using an “Expected Date of Graduation” bullet point. Even though you have not graduated yet, this will give employers a better idea of when you will graduate and how your school schedule may affect the work schedule.
Additionally, it can be useful to include your GPA(s) when writing a resume while still a student, as this can help to illustrate your work ethic to employers.
Here is an example of a well-crafted education section on a student resume
Wilkes Community College, West Jefferson, NC
Associate’s in Business Administration
- Expected Graduation: 2023
- Current GPA:8
Ashe County High School, West Jefferson, NC
High School Diploma
- Graduated: 2020
- GPA: 0
- First Aid & CPR, American Red Cross, 2024
- Lifeguard Certification, American Red Cross, 2024
6. Include valuable extra sections in your student resume
When crafting a student resume, including extra sections can be a valuable way to highlight your unique experiences, skills, and achievements beyond traditional academic qualifications.
These sections allow you to showcase your involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership roles, community service, and relevant projects. By including these extra sections, you can demonstrate your well-roundedness, transferable skills, and personal qualities that make you a standout candidate. Some examples of extra sections to consider for a student resume include:
- Leadership and Involvement: Highlight your participation in student organizations, clubs, or sports teams, emphasizing any leadership positions held and the impact you made.
- Volunteer and Community Service: Showcase your dedication to giving back through volunteering experiences, community projects, or service-learning initiatives.
- Projects and Research: Highlight any significant projects or research work you have undertaken, showcasing your problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and hands-on skills.
- Awards and Recognitions: List any academic or non-academic awards, scholarships, or honors received, demonstrating your outstanding achievements and dedication to excellence.
- Professional Development and Certifications: Include relevant workshops, online courses, or certifications you have completed, emphasizing your commitment to continuous learning and professional growth.
Here's an example of how to effectively list your volunteer and community service
- Volunteer, Local Animal Shelter, 2019-Present
Assist in daily operations, including animal care, adoption events, and fundraising activities, promoting animal welfare and community engagement.
- Organizer, Annual Food Drive, XYZ High School, 2017-2020
Coordinated a team of volunteers, collected and sorted donations, and delivered food to local shelters, contributing to hunger relief efforts in the community.