As a current student or recent graduate, you may not have very much work experience to include on your resume. However, you can potentially strengthen your resume by emphasizing related coursework and other academic projects.
Employers understand that entry-level employees may not have a whole lot of career experience. They will often look at your coursework and academic experiences to help determine whether you have the knowledge to fill the open position.
What Courses and Projects to Include
Add Relevant Coursework
When creating a resume, you can add a section titled “Relevant Coursework." In it, include the courses directly related to the position you are applying for. For example, if you're applying for work as a paralegal, list any classes you took related to law or politics.
Similarly, if you have completed any research projects related to your future career, list these too. If you're applying for a job that involves conducting research, list any extensive research projects you worked on.
Having a section listing relevant coursework makes sense if you're applying for an internship or entry-level position. Once you can no longer be termed a recent graduate, and have some on-the-job experience, you can remove this section from your resume.
Emphasize Your Achievements
Beyond related coursework, you should also emphasize any academic successes, such as a high GPA or an award from an academic department. It's a good idea to include this information in the education section.
Although these successes may not appear to be directly related to the job for which you are applying, they demonstrate your hard work and responsibility.
Other Experience to Include
If you participated in any sports or clubs where you developed skills relevant to the job you’re applying for, include these too. You could, for example, include a section in your resume titled “Extracurricular Activities,” or you might highlight activities in a broader section titled “Relevant Experience.”
Volunteer work is a relevant experience. Even if you didn't get paid for this work, volunteer experiences can make terrific additions to your resume. For example, if you're applying for a job as a teacher’s assistant, describe your volunteer tutor experience.
How to Add Relevant Coursework to Your Resume
You'll likely want to add this information below your college or graduate information.
Relevant Coursework Section
You can format it as a single section—for example, if you're applying for a role as a journalist:
Relevant coursework: Ethics in Journalism, Modern Media Communications, and Forensic Accounting for Journalists
Relevant Coursework List
Or, you may opt to format the information as a bullet-point list. For instance, if you're applying for a role in marketing, you could present your coursework like this:
- Developing a Brand
- Public Speaking
Finally, you may want to share several types of experience, using more detailed bullet points. Or, you may want to share some descriptive details about the courses you've listed if it's not clear from the course titles.
If you include coursework on your resume, be prepared to talk about the classes and what you learned in them during interviews.
Use Keywords in Your Descriptions
Including relevant coursework on your resume is a good way to incorporate keywords. Look for keywords in the job listing, and try to include them in this section.
For instance, if the job requires field research experience, you can mention your “30+ hours of field research” in the description of your senior project. Or, you can add "Field Research Methods" as one of the courses you've taken.
Proofread and Edit
Take the time to thoroughly edit your resume for spelling and grammar errors. Also, make sure that your font and style choices are consistent—for example, if you format one section title in bold, all section titles should be bold.
You might set up a meeting with a counselor at your college career services office to have someone else read through your resume too.
Where to List the Education Section of Your Resume
The education section of your resume—which generally includes relevant coursework—can be placed at the top or bottom of the document. If it's your best experience, or if you think your educational background will be relevant to hiring managers, include whatever is most appropriate at the top of the document.
Example of a Coursework-Focused Resume
This resume focuses on relevant coursework and leadership experiences.
Student Resume Focusing on Coursework
456 Oakwood Terrace
Anytown, PA 99999
Advancing science and law through dedicated legal and scientific research
A respected research assistant who has worked with tenured professors, practicing lawyers, school administrators, and company executives to produce research reports on scientific study and Supreme Court case law.
Key skills include:
- Computer-Assisted Research
- Organizing Research Data for Comprehensive Reports
- Analyzing Case Law
- Working with Research Teams
- Presenting Research Data
RELEVANT LEGAL COURSEWORK AND RESEARCH
XYZ LABS, White Plains, NY
RESEARCH ASSISTANT (Fall 2020 – Present)
Collaborate with an adviser, research team, and Smith School of Medicine to conduct research regarding the effects of steroids on the activity level of rats.
- Use a computer to gather and analyze data for distribution to the research team.
- Present new findings in bimonthly discussion with the department.
SOCIOLOGY OF LAW COURSE, SOCIOLOGY DEPARTMENT, XYZ COLLEGE, White Plains, NY
RESEARCH INTERN (Spring 2020)
Researched case law dealing with social policy and the Supreme Court.
- Analyzed cases and produced final paper regarding social policy in court cases.
- Explained results and conclusions in a final presentation to practicing lawyers.
EDUCATION & CREDENTIALS
XYZ COLLEGE, White Plains, NY
Bachelor of Arts in Government (Cumulative GPA: 3.9) Awarded Outstanding Government Student, May 2020
Microsoft Word • Excel • PowerPoint • LexisNexis • Adobe