How to write a college resume (and CV!)

Posted February 09, 2021

Are you looking for a job while still in college? Or looking for work post-graduation or during your gap year? You’re not alone. This year alone, you’ll be competing with many college students for those jobs. And that’s not even taking into account all the non-college folks looking for work during a pandemic. But regardless of the circumstances happening in the world, if you want a shot at a job, any job, you’ve got to make sure you stand out from the crowd. How do you do that? With a stellar college resume. 

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) “The outlook for Class of 2021 graduates is more positive than expected given that the pandemic shut down the economy, plummeted the stock market, and raised the unemployment rate. In several employment sectors—such as chemical (pharmaceutical) manufacturing, miscellaneous support services, information, and wholesale trade—organizations are increasing their college hiring, which is helping to drive the overall hiring outlook.”

If you are looking for a job while in college, or looking for a job following graduation, you might be wondering what you should 

How does a college resume differ from a traditional resume?

A traditional resume is a detailed account of your work history, experience and achievements. A college resume isn’t much different, except that you will likely have less work history (or sometimes none at all), and you will include some additional details such as your GPA, graduation date or expected graduation date, courses you’ve taken, etc.

Besides a few details, a college resume is very similar to a traditional resume. But, you might be asking, if you’ve never even written a resume before, how do you even begin to write your college resume? Well you’ve come to the right place. The CareerBliss team has been helping job seekers prepare for and secure their happy jobs for over a decade. And we’ve put together this quick guide to writing your college resume, just for you. So what are you waiting for? 

Should you have a college resume or a CV?

Before we even begin talking resumes, you’ve got to decide if a traditional college resume will really serve your purpose, or if your unique experiences would be served best by a CV (Curricula Vitae). If you have work experience from volunteerships, internships, campus jobs, off-campus part-time jobs or even a full-time job, you’ll want to put together a college resume. This resume should succinctly summarize a variety of details about your experience, highlighting your work history and accomplishments, as well as your academic record and accomplishments. 

However, if you have not yet had much work history and the majority of your time has been spent in academics and extracurricular activities, your college resume should look more like a CV. A CV is a detailed record of your academic history and accomplishments, also indicating any published works or research you’ve conducted over the last several years.

The standard college resume and a CV are good tools to have in your job seeker toolbox depending on your position as a college student with work history, or one with a purely academic history. Both can help serve the same purpose of helping you secure a job, especially if you make sure to highlight the skills you have, and include ways you’ve demonstrated those skills. 

After all, getting a job isn’t always based on job experience alone--especially for a college student or a new grad. Oftentimes, employers look at the degree you’ve obtained, or the skills you’ve demonstrated in your schooling. The right skills can take you far, so be sure to highlight those on both a college resume and/or a CV.

Let’s dive in and start writing a resume (or a CV)

Key details to include in your college resume 

  1. Contact information: Name, email, address, phone number, LI profile, web portfolio, etc.
  1. Academic history: Be sure to present an accurate picture of your academic history. You can go as far back as high school all the way to the present, regardless of what stage of college you’re at. Be sure to include any degrees earned, level of college (Junior, Senior, etc), as well as graduation dates.
  1. Professional experience

Don’t go into full-on resume mode here. Just list out the companies or organizations you worked for, the title you held, dates of employment, and a brief summary section showcasing your experience and achievements.

  1. Qualifying skills

Be sure to include both hard and soft skills in your CV or college resume. While you’ll want to somewhat tailor your skills to the job you’re applying for, don’t undercut yourself. You never know if that employer is looking for a flower arranger with accounting skills. The skills you consider irrelevant may be just the things that set you apart.

  1. Volunteer experience

Hospitals. Libraries. Non-profit causes. Teaching abroad. If you’ve amassed any volunteerships or internships, be sure to list them out by organization and dates of service, along with a summary of your responsibilities.

  1. Licenses and certifications

List out any licenses or certifications you hold, along with dates you earned them, and the name of the institution that it came from.

Key details to include in a CV

If you don’t have a whole lot of work experience, your college resume will likely resemble more of a CV (highlighting academic history), and that’s okay. You can still follow a traditional resume format, but tailor it according to the details, experience and history that are yours. 

While your CV can take the place of a resume in the event that you have no work experience whatsoever, it is also the tool/format of choice when you are applying for a job in an academic type of field. 

Both your college resume and CV are completely unique to you. Thus, the details you can include are flexible, depending on what you have participated in during your academic term.

You can also create a CV as a base, before you even begin writing a resume. Putting together a CV can help you organize the history of your experience. You can add to your CV as time goes on and you have more accomplishments or experience. 

Having a CV with all the details makes pulling your college resume together a whole lot simpler, since you already have all the information before you and now you just need to decide which elements you’d like to include, and if needed, flesh those details out further to show how they apply to the job at hand.

Some examples of details you might include on your college resume or CV include some of what is already on your resume (and a lot more!)

The first 6 items on your CV will be similar to your resume. But include as many details as possible. Your resume will be more succinct, but if you flesh out your CV now, it will make it all the easier to tailor your resume later.

  1. Contact information
  2. Academic history
  3. Professional history
  4. Hard and soft skills
  5. Licenses and credentials
  6. Volunteerships or Internships

Next, you’ll want to include the following, as applicable to you. Don’t forget, you can add to your CV over time (and you most certainly should!)

  1. Honors and awards

Feel free to brag a little (in a humble way of course). List out your academic honors and awards by name and year received. Include any details about the award that can help you stand out, along with the name of the organization granting the honor or award.

  1. References

Gaining reference letters or phone numbers from professors and advisors is a great idea when you’re in college, or before you graduate. These can help provide additional insight into your performance and character to a would-be employer.

  1. Professional or academic affiliations and associations

If you’re a part of any organization, either in high school, university or post-university, be sure to provide the organization’s name, location, and chapter, along with the dates of your membership.

  1. Grants and scholarships 

Because grants and scholarships are competitive, showcasing these can further impress your abilities. List out the name of the scholarship or grant, the bequeathing organization and the date awarded.

  1. Publications and presentations

If you’ve been in academics for a while, you’ve likely been invited to either publish or present your research. Include a well-cited section to highlight this part of your academic history. Be sure to include your name, co-author’s name, date, summary, volume, page number, DOI number for anything you’ve published. For presentations, include dates, titles of presentations, along with where you presented.

  1. Hobbies and extracurricular activities

Some closing tips

Always remember to proofread!

Proofreading is a point that can’t be overstated. You might think a small typo or a missed punctuation is a small thing (it looks that way, doesn’t it?). But in reality, when many highly qualified college or post-college students are vying for the same job, that small typo could end up costing you an interview, and thus, you’ll be passed over for the job without a second thought. Proofreading indicates an attention to detail that is very valuable for any employer. Be sure to always read through your resume slowly, several times, to ensure it’s error-free.

Follow the format

Stick to a 10-12 point font of the basic font styles such as Arial or Times New Roman. These will help keep your resume clean and easy to read. If you make your font too small, chances are it will go straight to the trash. You can apply bold headings or keywords as needed to help sections stand out for easier scanning. Whatever you do, be consistent. If you use bold headings, make all headings bold, etc. 

Writing a college resume or college CV isn’t difficult. It just takes a bit of time and dedication to capturing all relevant details about you and your history (academic and/or work history) to help you stand out and get a job.

If you’re ready to start applying for jobs, check out the CareerBliss job board.

The CareerBliss Team

Your career happiness is our #1 priority here at CareerBliss. To help you succeed in your career, we offer a wide variety of tools and resources to help you out along the way. Check out company reviews, salary information, career advice and, of course, millions of jobs on CareerBliss and choose happy today!

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