A Résumé…Do I Really Need One for My College Application?

by Jason Vallozzi, Campus to Career Crossroads founder


Writing a high school résumé can appear to be just another task added to the college application process. In reality, it is the only college to-do item that you will tangibly take with you and continually update as you move forward in life. Student profile information and essays will linger in application portals until they are closed, whereas résumés continue to be active. Your résumé is an evolving professional document that will be needed in college and throughout your career world. So why not take the time to learn how to write an effective résumé from the onset?

My involvement and membership in the National Résumé Writer's Association provides me with the best in class knowledge on résumé writing. Additionally, I spent over four years in the retained executive search profession reviewing and revising numerous résumés for high-level positions throughout the country. Interestingly, high school students have many of the same fears and apprehensions as adults when they hear the words "résumé writing." Once high school students understand some of the key fundamentals of modern résumé writing, a lot of their concerns are alleviated. So what are those critical fundamental concepts in writing an effective résumé?

What is the intended purpose? - An important lesson is to know the intended goal of a résumé and then write it accordingly. For example, too many professionals update their résumé first and then apply for jobs. However, a more effective approach is first to consider the type of job being considered and then write the résumé accordingly. There is no one size fits all, not even for high school students. First, determine the goal of the résumé. Is it to inform the person writing your letter of recommendation of your accomplishments, or to provide a broader overview geared for an admissions interview? 

 The top third must be dynamic. Much like the Common Application's activities section, your best accomplishments and strengths should be foremost at the top of résumé. It is helpful to step back and think about your unique strengths and abilities. Being clear and concise with those strengths in the beginning is imperative. Many admissions officials, like recruiters, give résumés a quick read and look for eye-catching information immediately or they may not read further.

 Metrics rule. Did you increase membership in a club by 30 members or an organization by 20%? Perhaps you set fundraising records over several years or increased fundraising by $5,000.00 for a club organization? Many high school students never think of their involvement in teams, clubs, and organizations with a numerical impact. Metrics provide a visual context to the size and scope of your accomplishment. Additionally, metrics can help differentiate a résumé between an average or an excellent one. Metrics are always impressive on a résumé and great conversation starters. 

 Respect design standards.  An effective résumé will tell your unique story in a page or two at the most. It's essential to maintain an attractive presentation, and it must be in chronological order, showing progressive responsibilities if applicable. Do not have more than two easily readable fonts in the entire document. You also should not adjust the margins less than one inch from all sides to cram in extra information. Text dense résumés are instantly unappealing to reviewers.

 Well written résumés take time and practice. Understanding key fundamental concepts help in writing an effective résumé. Starting one while in high school will serve those students well within their college and professional careers. It is a lot easier to update your information every six months rather than trying to recall years of activities and accomplishments after much time has passed. Ultimately, résumés correlate towards future earning potential and career trajectory, which makes them justifiably worth the time invested in high school.

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Jason Vallozzi is the founder of Campus to Career Crossroads, which is established on the premise of helping to bridge the gap in today’s confusing and competitive college-career market. Jason possesses over fourteen years of experience in post-secondary admissions and over four years of high-level talent acquisition in the retained executive search world which brings valuable insights to his clients. Jason can be contacted at 724.309.6648 or please visit www.campustocareercrossroads.com for more information.