What Do Employers Look For in Student Resumes?

What Do Employers Look For in Student Resumes?

As a student, your future employer knows that you don’t have prior work experience. What they are looking to discover is your potential. Here are the things employers look for in student resumes.

1. Presentation

Your resume needs to impress the reader within seconds of them picking it up if you’re to stand any chance of progressing to the job interview stage. Recruiters and hiring managers can receive hundreds of applications for a role, and sometimes only have the time to scan resumes before deciding whether to progress to a meeting. Download suggested Resume Headings

Include a personalised cover letter
76% of recruiters say they would not consider an applicant who submitted a poor cover letter. For the record, the absence of a cover letter is also a problem. The cover letter is your chance to demonstrate how your skills match the job description. In other words, done well, a cover letter increases your chances of an interview. View sample student cover letters

Include contact information on all pages
When you’re applying for jobs, it’s best to think of that task as a small business unto itself. If you provide an e-mail address (and you should), make sure that it looks professional. Ideally, it would be “your name @e-mail provider.com.” Download a modern resume template for students.

Include white space
A busy resume doesn’t equal a great resume. Most recruiters have a stack of resumes on their desk and are looking for readability. Keep the word count to a minimum and don’t be afraid of white space — it’ll increase the chances of it being read.

Now, on to the content… here’s a modern resume template for students.

2. Content

Your resume must show you’re a good ‘fit’ for the job; that you have the potential to do the job even though you haven’t had the experience. The best way to do this is to mirror the keywords that are being used in the job advertisement itself. While you do not want to add keywords just for the sake of doing so, including content that is directly in line with what the hiring manager is looking for will help. Take the key words that are in the job ad and include these in your resume and cover letter.

Employability skills
Your resume is an advertisement about you! Now is the time to brag about yourself. Employability skills and personal values are the critical tools and traits you need to succeed in the workplace – and they are all elements that you can learn, cultivate, develop, and maintain over your lifetime. Numerous studies have identified these critical employability skills, sometimes referred to as “soft skills.” Here are the skills that employers really want, plus some words for you to use in your resume about each skill.

Since most high school students haven’t held lots of jobs, it will be important to draw on all aspects of your life which show you have the right character, work ethic, skills and personality to succeed in a job. This means that your resume will likely be devoted more to school activities, volunteer work, academic and athletic pursuits than actual paid employment.

Referrals and recommendations
Ask teachers, coaches, volunteer supervisors and activity advisors for written recommendations when you develop a positive relationship.

When you ask for reference, don’t just say “Could you give me a reference?” or “Could you write a reference letter for me?” Instead, ask “Do you think you know me well enough to provide me with a reference?” or “Do you feel comfortable giving me a reference” or “Do you feel you could give me a good reference?” This way, your reference giver has an out if they don’t believe they can provide a strong endorsement or if they don’t have the time to write a letter or take phone calls from employers on your behalf.

And style…

3. Style

Write in bullet points
According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, most recruiters spend less than three minutes reading the average resume. Bullet points are the best way to highlight your accomplishments when the reader is pressed for time.

Be concise and use action words
Use active language when describing your experiences so you are portrayed in a dynamic way. Start the phrases in your descriptions with action verbs like organised, led, calculated, taught, served, trained, tutored, wrote, researched, inventoried, created, designed, drafted, edited and so on. Review each of your experiences and ask yourself if there were any minor achievements in class, clubs, sports or your part time job that you’re proud of. Download Action Words

Be consistent in presentation & layout
You’re resume isn’t there to show the world that you know all the fonts and features on MS Word. Be consistent and use basic fonts so that your resume will be easy to read. Make sure the layout never gets in the way of the information.

Get it proofread
Having a flawless resume is expected; anything less just won’t do. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and poor organization will all sink you. The best advice is to proofread it yourself and then have someone with a keen eye do the same. Download Resume Checklist


“There’s no half-singing in the shower; you’re either a rock star or an opera diva!” Josh Groban


Want to write a resume that rocks?

MyResume is an online resume assessment that provides students with everything they need to write a winning resume, including the right words to use in their resumes. Stand out from the crowd. Get invited to the interview. Get ready for your dream job!

About the Author

Nathan Chanesmanis Founder & Chairman of online career assessment company www.myprofile.com.aucreators of www.mycareermatch.com.au for student career planning and www.myresume.com.aufor resume writing.

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