female student on campus

Everyone and their mother has an opinion on how to properly write a resume. We’ve heard it all: tell a story, focus on your qualifications, highlight your relevant work experience. However, writing a successful resume as a college student is an entirely different game.

You’ve likely spent the last 15 years of your life funneling through the education system. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to prove you are an ideal candidate when you lack relevant work experience or a performance history. What’s the answer to your dilemma? It’s not about what you write, it’s about how you write it.

Here are 5 of our favorite resume tips for college students:

Put Yourself in the Employer’s Shoes

When reading a resume, an employer is trying to gain insight as to what kind of employee you would be. Your goal is to prove you will be a good fit for their company. Start by doing your research. The more you know about their company culture and core values, the more you can tailor your resume to fit their preferred style and direction.

Any Job Can Be Relevant if You Know How to Spin It

Any work experience is better than no work experience. When you describe your past or present roles, highlight the skills that can be applied to the job you want. For example, if you worked at a clothing store as a Sales Associate and you wanted a job working as a real estate agent, you should highlight your customer service skills and sales experience, not the daily store upkeep. You need to focus on the transferable skills that will be valuable in the position you hope to fill.

Market Yourself as a Doer

Employers want to hire people who take initiative, solve problems and get results. Highlight instances where you were personally responsible for tangible changes and improvements. If you are currently working, regardless of the nature of the work, ask your boss for a new project or more responsibilities. You should use your current or previous work experience to show your possible future employer that you are a dedicated and effective person.

Use Keywords

Your resume should be personalized to compliment the specific job you are applying for. Make sure to use keywords from the job description in your portrayal of your skills and experiences. Remember, as an individual with little work experience you are selling the idea of what kind of employee you will be.

Network, Network, Network

It’s never just sending in a resume. Sure, you can apply online and hope for the best, but you can’t will the hiring manager to take a closer look at your resume. You need an arsenal of support if you are going to land the job you want. Don’t hesitate to use your career center and alumni network. You paid to go to college, you might as well utilize all the tools and guidance they offer. Reach out to your friends for support. They could have a friend of a friend working in the same field you hope to join. It never hurts to ask. The most important thing you can do is advocate for yourself.

Starting from scratch? Check out some of our favorite resume template resources here.