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by Andrew Fennell | June 22, 2022


The job market is competitive, so if you’re a student or recent graduate on the job hunt, you need to make sure your resume is compelling and persuasive. The good news is there are several small tweaks to make that will have a huge impact on your resume. Below is a list of the most essential tips to keep in mind when updating your resume.

1. Tailor your resume to the job role 

One of the most important things to do in terms of updating your resume is to tailor every application you submit to the job and company you’re applying to. This might mean tweaking your personal profile or updating your skill set so that your resume aligns with each position you’re applying for. The best way to do this is to look through the job description and highlight the key skills, education, and experience that the employer is looking for. This way, you can include keywords that will grab the recruiter’s attention or help your resume sail through an applicant tracking system (ATS).

2. Make sure your education is up to date

As a student, your education is going to be one of your key selling points, so it’s important to make this a focus of your resume. It’s a good idea to include a little bit about your educational background in your personal profile before giving more details later in the education and qualifications section. You should follow the traditional structure for your education section, ensuring that you include the name of the institution, the years you studied there, your majors and minors, and degrees.  But it shouldn’t stop there. It’s also a good idea to include details of any outside trainings or projects relevant to the position. You might also include your dissertation or thesis and any exams you exceeded in.

3. Add any relevant work experience

Alongside your studies, did you have a part-time job or internship? Perhaps you have a side hustle or project that you volunteer your time to? Whatever the case may be, if you have some relevant experience, now is the time to add this to your resume. This is particularly true if your experience relates to the job you’re applying for. But even if it isn’t entirely relevant, you can still use it as an opportunity to shout about the transferable skills you've gained in that position.

4. Optimize your resume with action verbs

One way to give your resume an instant boost is to use action verbs to showcase your achievements. These simple but effective words can help you avoid boring cliches and stand out from the crowd, while helping the recruiter to paint a better picture of your abilities. An example of some of the top action verbs you might use as a student include succeeded, achieved, earned, collaborated, participated, volunteered, represented, and designed. Of course, these are just a handful of examples; there are hundreds of helpful action verbs out there you could include. Take the time to do some research and find the right words to showcase your strengths and achievements.

5. Consider additional sections outside of your studies

As a student, it’s entirely possible that you don’t have a lot of experience to shout about, but that’s okay. If you have the space near the bottom of your resume, consider including additional sections such as awards, projects, hobbies, accomplishments, and extracurricular activities. These can help further showcase your skills, particularly if they’re relevant to the role you want. For example, you could include a section that outlines what you do in your free time, be that sports, photography, reading, etc. You could also include activities that help to highlight skills like teamwork, leadership, and dedication. Before you add to your resume, think carefully about what you do outside of your studies and how it can bolster your application.

Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading UK careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.