7 Mistakes That Are Common In College Students’ Resumes and How to Fix Them

Published on: 7 July 2016 Last updated: 27 November 2018

This article about college students’ resumes was originally published on Business Insider by Julie Bort.

It’s an accepted fact that what you need most in order to land an awesome job or internship is the perfect resume. But as it turns out this is not an easy thing to have, especially when you are a college grad with limited work experience and almost no knowledge regarding how to craft a resume that will actually take you to the interview.

Going through dozens of college students’ resumes on a daily basis, we’ve found a pattern, so here is our list with mistakes you can avoid next time you make yours:

Mistake #1: College grads think they don’t have “enough experience”

Most recent graduates don’t have any work experience. As a given, employers usually prefer graduates with at least some work experience, turning the whole thing into a feedback loop where you need experience to get hired but to get hired you need experience.
Experience is not just work, however – it can be many different things, ranging from projects to volunteering. All of these give you practical and useful skills. So include any sort of  extracurriculars or initiatives you might have, as long as they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for. Even that part-time university gig might do. The small experiences matter because they show an accurate image of what you can and can’t do.

Enhancv 7 Mistakes That Are Common In College Students’ Resumes and How to Fix Them

Mistake #2: Submitting the same resume for every company you apply for

There’s a popular misconception that you need just one resume, something you send to 10+ employers. Far from it – the HR wants to know why you’re applying for that specific company and position. Hint, the answer shouldn’t be “you had an open position on a job-search website.”
Instead of looking for several random jobs, what you SHOULD be doing is looking for the right companies. If you already have a couple in mind, you should tailor your resume to each different open position that they are offering. Try to figure out what the job is all about, and what the company is particularly looking for. As reference, check out Nina4Airbnb. What she did was exemplary, tailoring her skills and experiences to the specific needs of the company.

Enhancv 7 Mistakes That Are Common In College Students’ Resumes and How to Fix Them

Mistake #3: Not backing up your claims

One of the the hardest things when writing a resume is accurately representing your skills. It’s even harder for the person reading it to understand whether you actually possess them. So when talking about your skills or strengths, do back them up with real life examples and tangible explanations.
Instead of thinking, “Umm, I’m probably good at communication,” look back and reflect. What were some of your biggest accomplishments? Then, work back from there. What skills helped you get where you are? Let’s say we’re talking about your strengths. Maybe you did the recruitment for a university club? Or if it wasn’t for you that group project would have failed. Well, in this case you can label this as “communication” but mention these experiences to back it up.

Enhancv 7 Mistakes That Are Common In College Students’ Resumes and How to Fix Them

Mistake #4: Not conveying the full amazingness of your accomplishments

If I told you I was a winner of a Hackathon, what exactly would you get from that? Unless it’s a really famous one, probably nothing. Same goes for recruiters – while your achievement might be something mind-blowing, they can’t tell if they haven’t heard about it before.

Thus, when talking about your accomplishments, mention the specifics. What was the prize? How big was the competition? Winning 1st place against 500 people is a lot more impressive than against 10. If you’ve established the scope of the achievement, you should probably move it somewhere higher up in the resume, not somewhere in the middle. These are your biggest accomplishments and should be where they belong – on the front line.

Enhancv 7 Mistakes That Are Common In College Students’ Resumes and How to Fix Them

Mistake #5: Thinking that your personal passions and hobbies are of no importance or may seem unprofessional in your resume

Hobbies and passions are something people tend to hide away at the last lines of resumes, especially when it comes to college students’ resumes. To be fair, in most cases, they should be. If you told me that you’re into movies or books, you’re not saying absolutely anything.
You can, however, use this to your advantage instead. Companies tend to hire proactive people, so instead of a bland statement saying “books,” you can talk about what exactly you’ve read and has strongly influenced you, your true passions, and even the places you’ve traveled because traveling shapes our personalities. These kinds of things say a lot about your character, and that’s exactly what top companies look for.

Enhancv 7 Mistakes That Are Common In College Students’ Resumes and How to Fix Them

Mistake #6: Listing tasks and responsibilities from your experience, instead of results and achievements* *

As someone who recently graduated from college, you’ve probably worked on quite a lot of various projects in and outside of school. That means you’re supposed to already have some measurable and solid accomplishments and skills you can show off.
Mentioning what courses you’ve taken is bland – the recruiter has no idea what you’ve actually done for the course.
Instead, you should talk about the real projects you’ve done. I.e it’s better to mention that group project for creating a database, not the fact that you’ve taken a class on databases. In addition to that, when talking about experience, quantify it. Let’s say you were doing marketing for your local TedX chapter. Instead of saying you did flyers, ran social media, etc. say what counts. An example might be increasing the number of attendees by X compared to the last event.

Mistake #7: Afraid to apply for top companies due to perception of lack of required skills or experience

If you have followed all the advice scattered across the web, you’d make a pretty sweet resume. Despite that, most graduates tend to be scared of applying for top companies. The best advice we can give you on this is not to underestimate yourself. Your competition is applying for the same position? They’re as scared as you are – and their college students’ resumes aren’t that flawless, either. You do have enough experience, and a little confidence can take you a long way.

To visualize all these mistakes and the difference they make on your resume, take a look at Jack’s resume Before & After:

Enhancv 7 Mistakes That Are Common In College Students’ Resumes and How to Fix Them

A comparison of two college students’ resumes – which one do you think works better?

To read next: Check out our resume examples section that got people hired at their dream jobs.

Volen Vulkov

Co-founder & Harmonizer-in-chief at Enhancv. Helping people achieve work-life harmony. A firm believer in Bulgaria, Liverpool supporter, ego-fighter and young Ving-Tsun padawan.

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