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The College Student Resumé

Tami Campbell

Move-in day is approaching, and you and your new college student are getting ready. You’ve made a list of “must-have” items. Extra-long twin sheets? Check. Laptop? Check. Storage organizers? Check. Resumé? Check. Wait — what ?

That’s right. Although rarely found on anyone’s Top Ten, a resumé should be considered an essential item on your student’s packing list. Certainly there are more exciting ways to spend the last few weeks of summer, but creating a strong resumé should be a priority and here’s why:

1. Getting it done during the summer = less stress later

The start of college is exciting but it can be stressful, too. Navigating a new campus, making friends, coursework, laundry…the list goes on. Why should your student put off this important activity and add one more task to their already full load in the fall? By working on their resumé now, before there is a need for it, they can take their time and complete it at their own pace.

2. Tackling it early allows time for reviewing…

Working on their resumé now allows your student to thoroughly review their past, looking for those experiences and activities that will make them stand out from their peers. By completing it at home, they’ll have access to information they may not have when they gets to campus: comment cards received from customers, performance reviews from past employers, certificates and awards they received from their many extracurricular and volunteer experiences.

3. …and revising

An early start also leaves room for multiple revisions. Creating a resumé for the first time can be intimidating. Sometimes students need to walk away from the writing process and come back later with a fresh perspective. The luxury of mulling things over can make the difference between an adequate resumé and an amazing one.

4. If they get stuck, you’re there to help

If you have your own resumé, you're familiar with the genre. And while you can certainly offer tips on formatting and content, where you can really help is in reminding your student of their accomplishments and successes. Most students create cookie-cutter resumés, listing past jobs and student organizations they belonged to. In order to make their resumé stand out, your student should focus on what they accomplished in their positions that went above and beyond the basic job description and show how their contributions to groups and organizations were important and unique. They may not remember all of this but chances are you do. This is the type of help they need.

5. It’s great practice for future revisions

Your student’s life will change a lot over the next few years. Each semester brings new classes, new experiences, new skills, and — sometimes — new jobs. Each change is an opportunity to enhance their resumé, if they know how. Putting together a solid “base” resumé now means they’ll have the know-how to quickly make changes later on, which will be especially important when they're juggling multiple commitments and deadlines, and need an updated resumé fast.

6. It may help with part-time or on-campus jobs, scholarships and study-abroad programs

Applying for jobs, scholarships and other programs usually involves a bit of paperwork. If your student has a resumé ready to go, they’ll be able to get application materials in more quickly. That time difference may be a factor in who gets the job, scholarship, etc.

7. It will impress recruiters at career fairs and other networking events

Most recruiters aren’t looking to hire freshmen for internships and a lot of freshmen don’t actively attend recruiting events. But those freshmen that do go and are prepared with an awesome resumé make an impression. The recruiter may not hire them this time around, but they will probably keep their resumé and make a note to touch base with them the next hiring season. Recruiters want to grab the best students early and hold on to them. Making a positive impression early in their college career gives your student a definite advantage over peers when it comes to getting that first internship.

There you have it! While it may not be your — or your student’s — ideal way to wrap up summer, carving out time to work on a resumé now can lead to many potential rewards down the road. Best of luck!

Tami Campbell is the owner of Level Up Career Services, a firm specializing in working with college students and recent graduates on their job search. With over a decade of experience in career services and campus recruiting, she now puts her background to work guiding students (and parents) through what can be a daunting and overwhelming process.
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