Resume tips for students | 4 strategies for resume supremacy
June 21, 2019

The Internet is rife with resume tips for students looking to take the next step in their careers. Some of the information you can find out there is great. There is also some that will hinder more than help. The first time a prospective employer meets you is through your resume and cover letter. It’s an important document, and you’ll be building it, editing it and reshaping it over many years.

Tailor your resume for each job application. This means modifying it to demonstrate the skills related to the job posting. Yes, it’s extra effort – but the effort pays off. Also remember your resume must be free of grammar, spelling and typing errors.

The resources you use to help build your resume need to come from a trustworthy source.

The Career Success team at Georgian College works with resumes, job seekers and employers every day. Here are the four strategies they suggest to help get your resume to the top of the pile.

Get your potential employer’s attention with these resume tips

Your resume is an advertisement about you.  It should make the employer interested enough to invite you for an interviewThese four strategies can help catch an employer’s attention right at the top of your resume. 

The career success team recommends you use one strategy or a combination of two:

  • Writing profile / highlights of qualifications
  • Job objective
  • Headline
  • Keywords and phrases

Included below are a few examples, and more are available here, on the student portal.

The job objective and the headline are optional features; choose the strategy you prefer.

1. Writing profile / highlights of qualifications

With the first section of your resume, your goal is to capture the reader’s attention immediately.

Examine the job posting, focus on the key skills/qualifications you have that match the position you are applying for. How do you meet the employer’s needs?

Highlights of qualifications / key strengths statements:

  • Clearly summarizes your qualifications/experiences and education in terms of the company’s needs and values
  • May be written in a short paragraph format, point form or a combination; consisting of 4-6 points

The components:

  • Identify the key skills you have that are most relevant to the position you are applying for (keep each point focused on one skill)
  • Use adjectives to describe how well you use the skill – make it unique to you
  • Build in the result of your skill level – what value will that bring to the employer?
A sample resume for an architecture student applying for work

What does this look like?

  • Dedicated customer service focus with the ability to work in stressful situations while maintaining a calm composure
  • Demonstrated excellent patient care and communication skills that have been recognized by other health care professionals and professors
  • Personable individual with outstanding communication, listening and interpersonal skills
  • Strong attention to detail to accurately record information and maintain confidentiality at all times
  • Effective documentation, data entry and reporting abilities, with proficiency in Microsoft Office software

You can also do this in a paragraph format with supporting statements – a suitable approach for a candidate with more experience:

Self-motivated international business graduate increases company revenue by demonstrating the value in setting and achieving targets and goals. Applies strong research and analytical skills to develop new business prospects; assesses and eliminates risks to optimize business opportunities, and present bottom line results.

  • Outstanding customer support provided to increase and retain customer base
  • Naturally and easily communicates with people from other cultures and backgrounds establishing excellent working relationships; written and verbal fluency in English, Punjabi, Hindi and French
  • Smoothly adapts to changing and challenging situations, displays confidence in high pressure, fast-paced business environments
Resume example with an objective statement and highlights of qualifications

2. Your objective statement

An objective statement is not required on a resume. In fact, it might only be appropriate in a few specific situations.

The objective statement:

  • May be seen by employers as self-serving (employers want to know what you can do for their company – NOT want you want)
  • Some employers view the objective as appropriate, for example a brief objective statement may be effective for an entry-level client or one seeking a career change
  • Should be used with caution; if you have experience you should be marketing your experiences and an objective statement is not likely going to be helpful

If you use an objective statement, make it count:

  • Keep it short – use two sentences maximum
  • Don’t be generic – tailor it to each position you apply to
  • Don’t make it all about you – it needs to meet the needs of the employer

Sample objective statements:

Career objective
An entry-level Administrative Support role in an accounting office.

Career target
To pursue a career as a sales representative in the automotive industry.

General objectives can be used when attending career fairs

Objective
Seeking a full-time position that will utilize my outstanding communication skills and years of experience in sales and computers.

Objective
Seeking a Business co-op at XYZ Corporation where I can expand my current abilities and contribute to XYZ’s mission of worldwide environmental sustainability.

Student resume example using a headline

3. The headline

A simple headline style introduction can quickly catch an employer’s eye. Think about how the headline of an article on Reddit or Buzzfeed draws you in. The headline on your resume allows the employer to quickly and concisely see what makes you the right person for the job.

The headline:

  • Is a brief phrase that highlights your value as a candidate
  • Is a preferred style to the objective statement

Choose words that showcase your strongest skills and attributes, and customize for each job to show a “fit” between what you offer and what the employer needs.

Sample of a resume using an eye catching headline

If you use a headline, make it count:

  • Keep it concise – it should be one brief phrase; it should not even be a complete sentence
  • Capitalize your headline – use capitalization so it looks like a title in your resume; this will help it stand out
  • Use keywords – use keywords that demonstrate your skills and/or experiences as related to the job posting; pick important words out of the job ad and use them here
  • Avoid clichés – common phrases i.e. “strong communication skills” don’t set you apart from the competition

Sample headlines:

Social media specialist
Expert in heightening organizational recognition and reach across social media channels

Sales associate
Building customer relationships with professional skills and respectful attitude

Customer service professional
~ Tactful ~ Organized ~ Resourceful ~

4. Keywords and phrases

Keywords and phrases show you read the job ad closely and are tailoring your resume to the needs of the employer. Including them signals to the employer your attention to detail and the level of care you put into important tasks.

Keywords and key phrases:

  • Are nouns and phrases that employers use to describe the job opening

To select keywords, determine what words and phrases the recruiter is looking for by combing through the job ad.

If you use keywords, make them count:

  • Keep it tailored – use keywords the employer includes in the posting
  • Find keywords – throughout the job posting
  • Mix it up – use different types of keywords, including soft skills and hard skills

Sample keywords and phrases

Sample resume with a summary and colleague quote

Key skills include:

  • Assisting Customers with Their Needs · Training Sales Clerks
  • Handling Returns and Exchanges · Stocking and Facing Shelves
  • Initiating Private Shopping Appointments · Arranging Floor Displays

Core competencies

  • Medical Expertise · Relationship Building
  • Team Building · Presentations & Negotiations
  • Problem Solving

Get help with your resume and land the job you want

The team in Co-operative Education and Career Success at Georgian College are available to help you in a number of ways:

  • Through the career/co-op resources on the student portal
  • With a direct career consultant or co-op consultant meeting on your campus
  • By being available at the Career Hub in room B115 on the Barrie campus

Hours are:

  • Monday – Friday
  • 9:30am – 3:30pm

Get your resume started with some of the tips in this article, then drop in for help refining your resume, cover letter, interview skills, or any of a handful of important career building skills.