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The traditional resume format for internships is a chronological format, primarily because this format highlights education and experience (work or volunteer) first.

An internship resume should include the following categories (in order):

  • Contact information
    • Full name
    • Address
    • Preferred phone number
    • Email address
  • Resume objective (a single sentence outlining what you can bring to the internship/do for the company)
  • Education information (School name, location, date of expected graduation)
  • Relevant courses and activities
  • Honors and awards
  • Relevant experience (volunteer and/or work, with locations and dates)

This format provides a good skeleton for your resume, but if not filled in with specifics about what makes you a distinctive and qualified candidate, it will simply read as bland to companies.

To help distinguish yourself from the pool of competitors, here are 3 fresh tips to achieve a knockout resume format for internships:

1. Quantify your resume

Whenever possible, include a number to paint a clear picture of your experiences and achievements. For example, “Division 1 Varsity Tennis Team Captain for last several years in college” vs. “Division 1 Varsity Tennis Team Captain for last 2 years in college.”

If you participated in a volunteer group, movement, or campaign, for how long were you involved? If you had a leadership position, how many people were you managing?

A number jumps out on a page and demands attention.

2. Keywords

When recruiting, businesses rely on an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to receive, filter, and file submitted resumes to determine which candidates are the most qualified. The ATS achieves this by combing through every resume for resume keywords. These are skills and qualifications mentioned in the original job or internship description that should be mentioned in the submitted resume.

Depending on the size and nature of the company you wish to intern at, your resume may or may not be subjected to an ATS. Nevertheless, resume keywords are always a bonus with hiring managers as including them tailors your resume to the particular job.

Seasoned job seekers know their resumes are likely to be scrutinized by an ATS. To prepare, they take advantage of online keyword tracking tools such as Jobscan to help customize their resumes and help them rank higher in the ATS.

Aspiring interns may want to consider using such tools– after all, many internships have the potential to turn into full-time positions.

3. Branding

As a beginning job seeker with minimal professional experience (hence the internship to gain some!), another obstacle is to make yourself stand out from the crowd. The best way is to look for patterns in the activities and courses you have chosen. Your combination of interests and experience will be unique, and being able to convey that will help you stand apart.

The same goes for any work and volunteer experience: Which projects and companies did you pursue (small and local, or large and corporate)? Where do you excel (strong communication skills? Organizing large projects)?

Companies want to give interns the opportunity to grow, achieve, and bring fresh new energy to their company. Showing what makes you different, and then demonstrating how your distinctiveness can benefit a company, is bound to have hiring managers picking up the phone.

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