As a college student or a fresher with little-to-no work experience you might think it is hard to write an appealing student curriculum vitae. In most CV writing tips you will read that your work history should be the most important part of your resume. The truth is that even without any work experience your CV is a crucial document when you are applying for a job.
Start with the basics
The basic elements of a curriculum vitae are your personal details (name and contact information), your education and your work history. Before you start writing your CV, start by gathering all your information. Besides the three basic element there are a couple of other elements you can choose to add to your CV, for example a personal profile, skills sections (personal skills, computer skills, language skills etc.), extracurricular activities, hobbies, awards & honors and special achievements.
Use the right CV format
As a college student or graduate it is best to put with your education before your work history. As a college student your education is in most cases your most notable achievement. When you have a couple of years of relevant work experience it is customary to place you employment history before your education (this is called the reverse chronological CV format).
Write a personal profile on your CV
A personal profile is an important section of the modern CV, in particular for college students. The personal profile is a short summary of your resume. It also offers a great opportunity to add information about your personality and your personal skills. Keep your personal profile short (5 lines max.) and use short sentences. If you want more information about writing a personal profile, check out our blog about writing a personal profile.
Focus on your education first
As a college student your education is probably the most important information on your CV at this moment. You need to give more information about your education then you would do when you already have a couple of years working experiences. Don’t forget to add information about your specializations and additional courses you might have followed.
Bundle your experience on your CV
If you have almost no relevant work experience, you can create a section where you can bundle all your relevant experience. In this “Experience” section you can write about internships, part time jobs, volunteer work, projects or other extracurricular activities that are relevant to mention on your CV.
Emphasis on your (interpersonal) skills
As college student or a fresher you might not have a lot of working experience, but you probably do have relevant skills to mention on your resume. In high school and more recently in college or university you have developed skills that are important to mention on your CV. Skills like interpersonal skills, project management skills, presentation skills etc. When you are writing your student CV create a separate section for your skills. Start with a skills sections that demonstrates your most important interpersonal skills. If you have a lot of computer skills and these type of skills are important for your work field, you can add a computer skills sections. If language proficiency is important in your work field, add a language skills sections. But keep in mind to select skills that are truly relevant for the job that you are applying for.
Add awards and honors or special achievements to your CV
As a student it can be hard to create a resume that will stand out from other candidates. Adding an Awards and Honors or an Achievements section to your CV can help you to stand out. Awards, honors and special achievements demonstrate your outstanding (personal) skills. When you have special achievements to add to your CV, make sure to select truly significant achievements and try to quantify your achievements as much as possible.
As a college student it is normal to have a short CV. At this point in your career it is really well accepted to have a CV that is not yet bulging with experiences and achievements. Don’t try to add irrelevant facts to your CV only to stretch your resume. All information should be relevant. Recruiters want to be able to scan your CV within seconds. Adding irrelevant facts will not only distract the recruiters from the relevant information, it will also give recruiters the impression that you don’t know what is important.
Check, check, double check
Recruiters often receive dozens of CV’s for each vacancy. They expect candidates to present themselves the best way possible. This mean that your CV should be impeccable every time you send it out to a recruiter. Avoiding typos and spelling mistakes sounds easy, especially with all the spell checkers on our computers nowadays. But when you have been working hard and long on fine-tuning your CV and cover letter it is easy to overlook a lost word or a half sentence in between sentences. Always ask a friend to proofread you CV and cover letter before you send it out.
Use a professional email address for your job application
Create a new email address that will make a professional first impression. Don’t use that funny email address that you had since high school. There are plenty sites where you can get a free email address. Get rid of any funny or even offensive email addresses that you might have had, no more email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
We also recommend not to use your .edu email address either. After your graduation you will not be using this mail address much longer. A lot of companies will save your CV in their directory, even when they don’t think you’re the right fit for the job you applied for. They might want to contact you later when another suitable position is available. Make sure they can reach you.
Customize your CV for each job application
Every applicant is special but the same counts for companies and vacancies. Always adapt your resume and cover letter to the company and the job you are applying for. In the job description of each vacancy there are crucial keywords to be found. Recruiters will look for these keywords in the CV’s. Search for these keywords in the job description and use them where possible in your resume and cover letter.
You might also want to read our blogpost about how to write an entry-level CV.
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