Student Advocate: resume being passed between two people

Writing an impressive résumé can be intimidating for anyone—especially for students who might not have a lot of practice showing off their professional experience. But almost every résumé can be improved—sometimes dramatically—by giving students a few simple tools and templates to help them get started.

Whether online through career services or via in-person résumé workshops, start by giving students these expert-backed tips.

Make a list 

Have students start by making a detailed list of all their professional, educational, and extracurricular experiences.

From there, help students pick out the best stuff: everything that’s relevant to their intended career or the job they’re applying for. “Your resume is a personal marketing document that showcases your most relevant skills and accomplishments” says Amanda Johnson, Career Advisor at Ashford University. “Your resume should not include your entire life’s story.”

Establish their goals

Within the first few seconds of reading a student’s résumé, a recruiter or employer should have a clear understanding of the type of position the student is targeting. Encourage students to think about defining their career/job goals first so that as they list their skills and experiences, they always have their objective in mind. This will help students differentiate their résumé from a pile.

Keep it simple 

Remind students to keep formatting simple and clean. Encourage them to use bulleted lists and clearly marked headers rather than paragraphs. For expert support, templates, and additional resources, connect your student with Career and Alumni Services.

You can also help students avoid buzzwords and industry jargon. (The seven most overused buzzwords in 2018, according to the career networking site LinkedIn, were: energetic, passionate, tenacious, value-add, expert, ninja, and guru.)


Sometimes the most valuable thing a résumé can have is another set of eyes. No self-respecting résumé can recover from a typo, so print out student résumés and proofread them bottom to top.


Michelle Dumas, founder, Distinctive Career Services, Boston, Massachusetts.

Paul Goodrick, career advisor, The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario.

Nicole Isenhour, executive career consultant, Point Road Group, New York City.

Kara Renaud, resource coordinator and faculty liaison, career services, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario.

Darby Scism, PhD, executive director, career center, Indiana State University, Terra Haute.

Black, J. (2018, February 20). Most overused buzzwords 2018. LinkedIn. Retrieved from

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Gordon, W. (2011, March 5). Top 10 ways to rock your resume. Lifehacker. Retrieved from

Keeping an eye on recruiter behavior. (2012). The Ladders. Retrieved from

Sharma, M. (2010, December 14). Top 10 profile buzzwords. LinkedIn. Retrieved from