Resume Writing for Non-Traditional Students: Arrangement and Content

Posted by Allison Leach on Jan 5, 2016 2:06:55 PM

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In the previous installment in our job-search series, we looked at resume writing basics - applicable to most job seekers. In this second installment, we give consideration as to how unique life experiences, such as those of non-traditional students, might affect the arrangement of resume content.


 

Arrangement

A well-written resume should be arranged in order of relevance, highlighting a job candidate’s strongest assets and achievements. For most traditional college graduates, the recommended order would be:

Summary Statement (optional)
Education
Experience
Skills and Certifications

For a non-traditional student, the arrangement may differ significantly, depending on work experience and the qualifications emphasized in the job description.

For example, if a recent nontraditional graduate is applying for a leadership position within the sales industry, 10 years of sales experience may be more relevant to a hiring manager than a recently earned Bachelor of Professional Studies degree. In this instance, the resume might be formatted like so:

Summary Statement (optional)
Experience
Education
Skills and Certifications
Professional Organizations

However, another nontraditional student - with limited work experience - may choose to draw particular attention to relevant skills and related school projects. A skills-based resume might be formatted something like this:

Summary Statement (optional)
Skills
Education
Projects
Additional Experience

Recent graduates may also choose to incorporate additional sections to help highlight specific experiences, interests and achievements. Such sections might include Awards and Activities (school-related), Leadership Experience, and Community Involvement.

 

Content

As with the arrangement, the content included on a given resume is often dependent on the position being sought. While a detailed examination of resume content is beyond the scope of this blog post, the following tips should help in composing the most commonly-included resume sections:

Summary Statement

  • The optional Summary Statement serves as an introduction, presenting a brief overview of your professional capabilities in 2-3 descriptive sentences.
  • The Summary Statement has generally replaced the outmoded Objective, previously included below the resume header. Objective statements may still be used in certain instances, often to help explain how a disparate background is relevant to the position you are seeking.

Education

  • It is not necessary to list all colleges attended (this may be a concern for students with gaps in attendance): unless you choose to highlight relevant coursework from a particular institution, focus on degrees obtained.
  • Make note of academic honors and awards, if applicable, but generally only list overall GPA if it is above a 3.5.
  • Relevant coursework may be included in a subsection, but sparingly. This is also an area where continuing education, such as certificate and non-credit courses, may be listed,

Experience

  • Candidates with a range of work experience may consider dividing Experience into two separate sections: Relevant Experience, and Additional Experience. An alternative to this might be to indicate that the experience listed is relevant to a specific field or position, i.e. Management Experience.
  • When creating bullet points related to a given position, use data - if possible - to communicate responsibilities and achievements, i.e. “supervised a team of 10 sales associates,” or “increased productivity by 30%.”
  • While volunteer experience is often listed under Community Involvement, many volunteer positions, - as well as internships and pro-bono work - may be considered Relevant Experience.

Skills

  • This section should generally list “hard” skills or practical knowledge, such as language fluency or familiarity with software applications. “Soft” skills, such as leadership experience or presentation skills, are best integrated into the Experience section.

 


While there is much debate as to how to compose a "winning" resume, a carefully tailored document will certainly help to make a positive first impression - and may be the first step toward an exciting career!

Topics: Student