Building a resume in college is a key step in advancing toward a career. There are two main steps to building a resume: taking steps to get involved in organizations that will boost your resume and editing your actual resume.

Steps to Make Resumes Better

Joining a professional organization helps introduce students to their chosen industry. It can leave you with professional contacts, experience in the field, and a reference on your resume.

Taking industry-specific courses is also a good way to boost a resume. Such courses include courses that have a focus on projects, case studies and service training, and courses that students can earn certifications in. You can include all of these courses on your resume to highlight qualifications to hiring managers.

Learning a new language is a way to make your resume stand out, as being fluent in multiple languages is a skill employers look for. This skill can mean you may be able to communicate with an employer's global partners.

Studying abroad is a way to gain experience. When looking for a study abroad program, find one that relates to your studies or desired profession. An important factor is also the way the programs challenge you and teaches you about new cultures and thought. When adding studying abroad to a resume, highlight courses, projects, and skills that were learned.

Studying abroad can be expensive, however: You may be interested in this article to learn more about affording study abroad.

Working a part-time job is a great way to build a resume. Part-time jobs leave students with skills they can use in any future career, including communication, time management, and organization skills. In your resume, you can highlight the skills you learned that relate to the position you are applying for. You can even specifically look for jobs in the industry you are interested in, to show future hiring managers your job-specific qualifications.

Volunteering is a way to not only make a difference in your community, but to gain experience. Volunteering can introduce students to fields and industries they may not have considered and allows making connections that can help in future careers. Listing a volunteer position on a resume not only demonstrates a candidate’s personality, but the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities while in college.

Getting an internship is also a good way to build up a resume. It is a way to learn first-hand what working in a chosen profession is like and allows making professional contacts in your industry. Many employers are looking for internship experience in entry-level employees, so adding this to a resume can make candidates stand out.

Learning new skills is also a way to boost a resume. These skills would ideally be skills that relate to a future career and may be learned through college courses. Relevant courses and skills can then be listed on a resume. An example would be an aspiring politician taking courses in public speaking.

Getting involved in extracurricular activities is also a way to boost a resume, as it builds teamwork, leadership, and time management skills. Students can consider joining activities that they are personally interested in, or activities that fit a field of study or future career. Not only will any extracurricular show an ability to juggle multiple responsibilities in college, but candidates can highlight them as experience on a resume.

Shadowing a career is a great way to demonstrate a greater understanding of a field and shows employers a commitment to learning more about an industry.

Editing and Structuring a Resume

Resume-builders like those found on Indeed, Ziprecruiter, and ResumeNerd can help students construct their resume, especially if they are new to the process. However, resumes typically have the applicant's name at the top, followed by their contact information and address.

They then typically have a summary or profile of your work history, summarizing in a few sentences your experience and where you want to go with it. You might want to think about this as your pitch of your five-year plan. You will need to have employment history at some point, and with every employer list what you did at the job, and how this shows what you learned there and your skill-set. This is an important thing to remember for anything you include--whether it is a class, a certificate, an extracurricular, volunteering, or a part-time job, you need to include what you learned from it and the skills you now have because of it.

Have a separate section for a reference or two, with the contact information of past employers you would like to cite as references. You can also state "references available upon request."

You will want a skills summary at some point in your resume, but where it is in your resume depends on the role you are applying for.

When applying for a role that requires technical skills, or “hard skills,” put the section at the top of the resume, as these are very important for the employer to see. 

However, for roles that are less technical, it can be wise to include skills at the bottom of a resume, as experience may be more important than skills.

You will also need to include your education. This includes high school and any higher education. For all listed, you will want to include the dates, the institution(s), and majors if applicable. You can also report your GPA if applicable, and any achievements, such as scholarships, awards, etc.

Finally, you may even want to include some interests and hobbies. It may not seem like it, but these hobbies can leave you with more skills for you to cite and can help an employer get to know you on a personal level, telling them more about if you would fit with the company.