You started your first year of college and are excited to see what the future will hold. A college freshman resume is an important document to have ready to go, as new opportunities arise. You can use a resume to apply for a part-time job, impress the selection committee of a leadership organization or vie for a scholarship. Include important information from high school and anything that you’re involved in as a college student. Confine your personal information to one page and include things like previous employment, special skills, volunteer experience, activities and honors. Once you’ve finished your resume, be sure to have a few people proof your work and keep it updated, as your list of achievements grows.
College Resume Template
You can find college student resume examples online. A college resume template should include dates, positions and important accomplishments. Begin by brainstorming everything that you’ve been involved in and put it in order. Cross off the least important information if you have more than what will fit on one page. Use a readable, 12 point font with margins that are no more than one inch in width. Add action words like led, managed, organized and coordinated before each item that you list. Finally, be sure to keep the tense consistent for each verb on your resume. Use present tense for those items that are current and past tense for jobs that are part of your personal history.
Update Your Contact Information
It’s critical to include your contact information, at the top of your college freshman resume. A future employer or student organization leaders will use this to notify you, if they’re interested in pursuing your candidacy. Use your campus address and cell phone, so that you won’t miss out on a potential opportunity. An email address is also important, since this is often a preferred method of communication on a college campus.
List Your Education
A common first category on a college freshman resume is education. In addition to your high school graduation details, include your college degree and expected graduation date. It’s okay if you change your major later on. Your college freshman resume is just a snapshot of the beginning of your educational journey. Your target graduation date informs a hiring official about the length of time that you might be available to work during your college career.
Include All Relevant Experience
Your work experience paints a picture of the level of responsibility that you’ve had as an employee. Future employers will be interested in progressive experience. For example, if you began as an entry level employee and became a lead worker or supervisor, this should be stated on your resume. Similarly, length of service is important. Employers will look favorably upon longevity at a job.
If you only worked for a couple of months and then changed jobs, you can choose to include this information or leave it off your work history. Some students are very involved in high school and don’t have time for a regular part-time job. In this case, odd jobs still count as work history. Feel free to list work like babysitting, lawn mowing and dog walking in your work history.
Showcase Your Skills
You can help a prospective hiring official understand more about your potential by communicating the special skills that you possess. Use this section to discuss your strengths and unique talents. Emphasize computer skills, knowledge of computer software and experience with social media marketing. You can also use this section to discuss your interpersonal communication skills, ability to organize and creativity. Inventory your strengths and showcase them on your college freshman resume.
Highlight Activities and Honors
In addition to job experience, it’s important to show how you’ve been involved in extracurricular activities. Include sports, music, student groups and other relevant information. If you were in a leadership role, be sure to list the position that you held, under the corresponding group. You can also put honors and awards in this section. Awards, scholarships and other types of recognition will tell a prospective employer that you’re a rising star.
Emphasize Volunteer Experiences
Consider all of the opportunities that you’ve had to contribute to your community and list each one on your college freshman resume. Even if you helped out for one day or one event, list the organization and what you did, as a volunteer. If you organized a charitable effort or encouraged your friends to volunteer, highlight your role as a leader. Volunteer experience demonstrates that you're civically minded and are interested in giving back to your community. If you can’t think of anything to put in this section, just leave it off of your resume.
Other Do’s and Don’ts
After you write your first draft, there are a few things that you should double check before you can finalize your college freshman resume. Don’t include any personal identifiers like race, gender, age or health status. Be honest about everything that you’ve listed on your resume. It may be tempting to stretch the truth about an activity or accomplishment, but lying will eliminate any chance that you have of being selected for a job or scholarship. In addition to asking someone else to proofread your resume, read it aloud to yourself. Finally, save it as a PDF, using your name as the title. If you submit your resume electronically, it will remain unchanged and be easily identified by the recipient.
Don’t Forget the Cover Letter
Sometimes, it’s hard to capture everything that you’ve accomplished in a one-page college freshman resume. Even if you don’t need it right away, consider drafting a cover letter to accompany your resume. Use the cover letter as a way to fill in the blanks about who you are and what you hope to do, in the future. If you write a rough draft, you can make changes, as needed.
Prepare for the Future
Use the process of writing a college freshman resume to reflect upon what you’ve done so far and what you hope to do in the future. As you look at each category, take note of the areas that could use more content. If you’ve been strongly involved in community service, but are lacking leadership roles in student organizations, set a goal to do more of this while in college. Don’t delay in getting involved. Your freshman year is the perfect time to try new things and establish yourself as a leader on campus. It’s much harder to develop a strong resume if you wait until your senior year in college.
Continually Update your Resume
Once you have a first draft of your college freshman resume, revisit it regularly. It’s much harder to update a resume if you wait until you need it for a job application. Every time that you join a new group or accomplish something notable, add it to the appropriate category. If you keep your resume updated, you’ll always have it ready to go when an opportunity presents itself. It’s okay if your resume exceeds a page as you progress through college. You can eliminate some of the older entries and even go to two pages if you have a lot to add to your resume.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.