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Expert Tips for Students on Building a Digital Resume

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Expert Tips for Students on Building a Digital Resume

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Having a student resume is important but creating a digital resume can set high school students apart from the crowd and can help with job searches, college admission, and internship applications. Taking your student resume to the next level is sometimes easier said than done, especially for high school students, many of whom may not have a lot of official job experience to include. 

Resume writing is a skill students will use for the rest of their career, so it is important to master it early. We asked the experts what students need to know before creating their first digital resume. These tips will help students get noticed so they can have access to some amazing opportunities.

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Where Can Students Put a Digital Resume?

  • LinkedIn can act as a digital student resume if students create a strong enough profile
  • Students can create their own website to host their resume and use the website itself as a portfolio to showcase their skills
  • Google Docs can be used to create a resume shared digitally with potential employers, college admissions officers, and internship managers
  • Create a video resume and host it on your social media, such as Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube

Why are Digital Resumes Important for Students?

  • Google search results are one of the first impressions that future employers have of a candidate. Digital student resumes can show up in Google results and help portray the impression students want
  • Traditional resumes are one dimensional. Digital resumes allow students to highlight the skills they want to emphasize and provide work samples or photos to make a bigger impact
  • Digital resumes are not only easier to share with potential employers, but they may also get you noticed before you even apply for an opportunity

How to Create an Online Skills-based Resume as a High School Student

  • Focusing on skills instead of job experience in a resume is called a “skills-based resume.” This is an excellent choice for high school students who do not have much job experience
  •  Highlight your volunteer experience, any certifications you have received, school projects, second languages, special skills, and more to stand out from other applicants
  • Be sure to have someone proofread your resume when you are done to check for spelling and grammar errors
  • In most cases, avoid including a photo of yourself on a resume because many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) and often eliminate resumes with photos so they don’t show any bias

Tools to Help Create Digital Resumes for High School Students

  • Google Docs has templates students can use to create a resume that can be customized
  • ChatGPT can be a great tool to help proofread a student resume or fine-tune the words that you use in it 
  • Many schools have advisors who are willing to help students write a resume and/or give feedback on one that is already created

What do the Experts Say about Digital Resumes for Students?

Brenna Neuman

1. Start by Searching for Yourself Online

Brenna Neuman, Recruiter with the DuMont Project

We always tell students, ‘Go search for yourself online.’ Find all of these other people who care less about your online image who are stealing your thunder and go buy your personal web domain, which is going to come up first. Start building an online resume for whatever you want to be known for.

There are easy tools for that. You can use Wix or SquareSpace and you don't have to know anything about coding or development, but you can start highlighting school projects or things that you have built with friends. It's worth it.

2. Highlight Future Career Ambitions

Kristen Moon headshot
Kristen Moon
Kristen Moon, Moon Prep

For students who want their LinkedIn to stand out on their application, add a headline that quickly highlights the essential parts of the student's profile. An example headline can be “Student, Researcher, and Volunteer.”

Students should create a customizable LinkedIn URL as it makes it easy for people to find you and adding a professional profile helps to create a strong first impression.

We work with students to create a succinct summary which includes present and future business ambitions. An example could be, “An aspiring physician interested in internal medicine and research committed to academic excellence and hands-on learning experiences, including job shadowing an internalist, leading the STEM team, tutoring students, volunteering, and playing the flute.”

To make their LinkedIn page come to life, students should add any related images, documents, or videos. Included pictures from volunteering hours at the local shelter, videos of musical performances, and links to research proposals.

A resume and LinkedIn profile is an excellent way for students to become a tangible human being to the admissions counselors.

3. Include Software you’re Familiar with on your Digital Resume

Jason Patel headshot
Jason Patel
Jason Patel, Transizion

You want to demonstrate to employers that they won't need to train you as much as as another applicant if you were hired. This saves the company time and resources. As such, you should include applications, programs, and software that you're familiar with in a work capacity. This tells employers that not only do you have a diverse range of software experience but you also can get up to speed really quickly.

Additionally, since you have extra room on your personal website, add visuals of your projects and results. While usually improper to include visuals in a paper resume, your online website should become your portfolio, where any employer can visually grasp the importance and results of your work. Visuals simply have a way of conveying a story that words do not. Examples of visuals include brochures for design projects, annual reports for development and fundraising work, or memos and briefs for research assignments.

Next, I strongly recommend keeping the site clean and emphasizing user experience. There are a few tricks to creating powerful landing pages. First, your headshot and a headline that summarizes your professional/educational experience should appear above the fold - this is the first thing a visitor sees. Keep it orderly and unintimidating. Second, use large enough font and small paragraphs to break up copy on your personal website. Remember, no one will care to review your impressive experience if it's hard to read.

Last, the site should load quickly, so keep images lightweight and use a content distribution network if needed. A slow site leaves a bad first impression.

4. Further Emphasize your Skills in a Way that a One-Page Resume Cannot

Ren Jones headshot
Ren Jones
Ren Jones, Rennovate It

The key to a digital resume, when being used as a website, is to use it to further emphasize your skills in a way that a one-page resume cannot (rather than just restating your resume). An effective way to do this is to use your digital platform as your portfolio to show examples of specific things you created using specific tools. For instance, if you are great with Photoshop, show some work you've done with Photoshop with before-and-after images. Or if you created something amazing in InDesign, show it off. Emphasize which programs you used to create these items.

Another key element is keeping your webpage up-to-date, or at least making it seem as though it is up-to-date by keeping blog posts recent if you have them (or avoiding timestamps altogether), and ensuring that your design is up-to-date as well. If you have teacher reviews, even if they were only verbal, add them to your site! Include organizations that you are a part of, volunteer work (it is great to include pictures if you have them), and don't be afraid to show some of your personality. Your digital resume should make someone else feel as though they know you and your talent.

5. Align your Technical Competencies to the Profession you are Seeking

Ketan Kapoor headshot
Ketan Kapoor
Ketan Kapoor, Mettl

A digital resume is not about description, it’s about demonstration and validation through real experiences. I think Canva can be very helpful in designing a resume. A wide variety of apt and professional designs, fonts, and formats are within your reach catering to a lot of professions and specializations. When you have finalized your design, have a crisp summary of personal information and mention your hard and soft skills.

With regards to your hard skills, align your technical competencies to the profession you are seeking; reflect the breadth and depth of all that you have done and achieved in your student life. Add detailed descriptions about projects you have done and link to Google Sheets, documents, presentations, or videos if you have any.

With regards to your soft skills, validate all of them by conjuring your extra-curricular activities in your mind and giving ample examples of them in your digital portfolio. If you say you are risk-taking, highlight any projects you have completed that shows you could have failed but you took the chance anyway. If you say you’re adventurous, add pictures of your trips and activities, videos, your social feed, your personal website, or anything that exemplifies your claims.

Bonus Tip: Add a video to your digital resume where you speak about all your skills like: communication skills, negotiation skills, your core skills, your hobbies, and any achievements that you are really proud of. It will reflect who you are as a person and what your aspirations and motivations are.

6. Showcase the Results of your Skills

Nick Le headshot
Nick Le
Nick Le, Gridfiti

A digital resume is a great thing to have on file, but the things that you include on your digital resume need to stand out. It is important to state the skills you have, but it is also important for you to showcase how you've used your skill set in a project. If you claim that you are great in digital marketing or SEO, create a blog where you can provide proof that you've driven traffic to a website. If you have social media skills, approach a local business and offer to run their social page for free in order to drive results that you can show on your digital resume.

Everyone can state their skills, but not everyone can back it up with results. You might not get positive results all the time, but you can at least show that you're experimenting and can provide insight on why the results turned out the way that they did. Having actual hands on experience in the industry can give you major benefits when applying for jobs.

7. Showcase the Results of your Skills

Sonja Montiel
Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

College admissions is still pretty traditional. Students submit their information by typing it onto an application and there isn't any real place to upload a link. What I'm telling students to do is to create a link to their online resume and put the link where it is relevant or appropriate in their college application so the reviewer can easily click on it if they are interested. Be thoughtful on where you decide to share your links.

Conclusion

If your student wants to stand out from the competition during the college admissions process or while applying for their first job, then it’s imperative they have a powerful digital resume. While most students will utilize their digital resume to list their skill set, students who showcase the results of their skills will have a better chance of impressing colleges and future employers. Using metrics, showing results, linking to project assets, building a positive online brand, and creating videos are all great additions to a traditional student resume.

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Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Learn more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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