How to Build a Resume: a Guide for Students

11.27.20 How to Build a Resume

You’ve worked hard during college, and now it’s time to enter the workforce.  While you probably have a sample resume laying around, a well-written resume will be key to standing out and getting called for an interview.  Here’s our quick guide to build your resume.

Do your Research

Research doesn’t stop once you graduate, but it will pay off in the end.  Look at sample resumes and try to find some in your desired field.  (Yep, your resume should change based on the job you’re applying for).  Employers are looking for different traits from Human Resources professionals, teachers, IT staff, construction workers, welders – you get the gist.  When you find great examples, pick a few things that you can modify to fit your resume.

It’s also a good idea to pay close attention to the “requirements” and “qualifications” sections of the job posting.  These help you determine if the job is a good fit for your skills, education, and interests.  Additionally, you’ll be able to pick out a few keywords that you can include in your resume.  These keywords will ensure your resume reflects the nuances of the job posting.

Resume Structure

Just like with your college papers, the most important and compelling information on your resume should come first and be easy to pick out.  Make sure your name and contact information stand out and be sure to format your resume in sections to make it easy to read at a glance.  You’ll want to include past experience, education information, and relevant skills.  While templates can help you start your resume, be sure to tweak them to better reflect your personality and career field.

As a new college grad, you might not have a long professional work history, and that’s ok!  You can include relevant course work, clinical hours, academic achievements, or even your extracurriculars.  Remember, your resume is supposed to give employers enough information for them to invite you in for an interview, and shouldn’t be more than a page in length so don’t try to “fluff” your resume with unnecessary information.


In extremely competitive marketplaces, the smallest blip could cause hiring managers to toss your application.  Be sure to look over your resume for any spelling or grammar errors.  It’s always a good idea to have someone else review your resume before you submit it, too.  You can ask instructors, mentors, or parents to give your resume a once over – or twice if you’re feeling extra nervous!  A fresh set of eyes can do wonders when it comes to keeping your resume short, simple, and to the point, too.  All the information should use direct, concise phrasing – have the person looking over your resume pay close attention to be sure they interpret your message in the way you intend.

Use your Resources

Your resume is an important tool to have in your tool belt when it comes to landing your dream job, but sometimes just as important are the people you know.  Networking can be the difference between getting your foot in the door or getting the door shut in your face.  If you’re not quite sure how to network, connecting with alumni can be a great start!  Alumni have been in your shoes and know how your education translates directly to the workplace.

Iowa Valley students (and alumni) also have access to the College Central Network.  This is a hub for anyone in the Iowa Valley region.  Local employers looking to fill a position post jobs through the College Central Network.  You can search through those postings and share your resume – all in one spot.

Graduating from college is an exciting time of transitioning to the workforce.  Utilize these insights to make your resume stand out from the crowd.  From there it’s up to you, but we think you’re going to nail it!