Student resume tips

Top tips for how to include student job experience on your resume.

Amy White |

So maybe you spent the summer ringing up milk and avocados as a grocery clerk. Or you just found a student job in retail (hello, discounts). The big question: when it comes time to find a career or an internship, is there any point to putting these hourly jobs on your resume?

The answer is yes! When creating a resume or an online profile, any work history is better than no work history. You can take that boring summer of folding shirts and turn it into a great addition to your resume. Here's the trick: don't just summarize your job description. Focus on your transferable skills. These are the skills that make you a great worker whether you're behind a desk or behind the counter.

"When we talk to employers, they're telling us the top skills they're looking for are communication skills, interpersonal skills and analytical skills," says William Jones, public relations and marketing coordinator for the University of Maryland Career Center. Think about the times you used those skills during your summer job or student job and talk about that. Here's how:

Student Job examples

Student job: Retail sales associate

A bad resume says: I was responsible for ringing up customers, cleaning the stock room and restocking the children's shoe department.

A better resume says: Because of my customer service skills, my manager promoted me to lead cashier. I also used my organizational skills to come up with a better way to track stockroom inventory, saving three hours of employee time each week.

Student job: Waitress

A bad resume says: “I waited tables, assisted with prep work and helped the hostess seat customers.”

A better resume says: “After only two months working at the Crab Shack, my manager put me in charge of reviewing the receipts each night to ensure they were accurate. Because of my communication skills (I'm studying counseling in school), my coworkers often asked me to help them deal with difficult customers.”

Student job: Hotel clerk

A bad resume says: “As a front-desk clerk for Marriott, I helped guests check in and out, answered the phone and took reservations.”

A better resume says: “Working as a front-desk clerk for the Marriott, I learned a lot about time management, communication skills and problem solving. I was responsible for quickly resolving guests' questions and complaints while handling front-desk duties in a fast-paced environment.”

Resume still looking a little skimpy? Add other relevant experience, like school coursework or volunteer work. The one thing you shouldn't do is say in your cover letter or profile, "I don't have a lot of work experience, but..." Stay positive, Jones says. "Just talk about what you have to offer."