How to Highlight Your Academic Accomplishments on Your Resume
Today, the average job listing gets more than 250 applications. That’s hard to contend with, even if you’re the most seasoned professional. But when you’re a student or recent graduate with little to no experience behind you, this can feel even more daunting. So, how are you supposed to compete with that many other job seekers?
One way is to do everything you can to showcase the skills and achievements you do have, and your academic accomplishments will play a big role in this. So, whether you’re still studying or have recently graduated, here is how to effectively highlight your student accomplishments on your resume.
1. Determine which accomplishments to include
The first thing you need to do before you begin writing your resume is to determine which of your academic accomplishments will be the most impressive. You can do this by looking through job descriptions that are closely related to the position or industry you’re hoping to get into. Make a note of any key skills or experience the employer is looking for; this will help you to identify and highlight the most relevant achievements.
2. Quantify wherever possible
After you identify the skills, experience, and achievements you want to include, start to make a list of related facts and figures. These might include GPA, sporting achievements, years leading a club or committee, places in competitions, academic awards, and honors. As you begin to add academic accomplishments to your resume, you want to give as much context as you can. The best way to do this is to quantify your achievements wherever possible. So, for example, instead of writing “graduated magna cum laude,” you might write, “graduated magna cum laude with a 4.0 GPA, the highest score in my graduating class” or “ranked within the top 5% of my class for exam results.”
By using figures in this way, you not only give more context but also prove just how impressive these accomplishments are. Not to mention, numbers can draw the reader’s eye, which means the recruiter is more likely to spot your most impressive achievements quickly and keep reading.
3. Go into more detail in your education section
Your education section is your chance to outline the establishments you’ve attended, the subjects you’ve studied, and the grades you achieved. However, this is also an opportunity to go into more detail about your accomplishments during your studies. Some additional details you could add might be relevant coursework, studying abroad, grade point average, academic honors, scholarships, and more. You can add these details under the name of your chosen subject, or you could use bullet points to highlight key information, for example:
- Graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA
- Distinguished Scholar Award 2021 and 2022
- Dean's List 2020, 2021 and 2022
4. Choose your most relevant achievements
While you might not have a lot of relevant work experience to highlight, you may have academic accomplishments that are closely related to the role or industry you’re hoping to go into. In this case, it’s important to include your most relevant achievements in your resume summary, education, or accomplishments section (more on this next).
Let’s say, for example, you’re applying for a position in marketing, having studied a relevant course at college. Your resume summary could state, “achieved 96% on my Digital Marketing 101 coursework after creating a comprehensive marketing strategy for my fictional brand Top Stop.”
5. Consider a separate accomplishments section
Finally, if you have lots of impressive achievements, both from your studies and your extracurricular activities, you could have an entirely separate accomplishments section. This way, you can go into more detail, and you make it much easier for the recruiter to locate and scan through your top achievements. It might look something like this:
Accomplishments and Achievements
- As Founder and President of the Public Speaking Club, organized 10+ public speaking lectures
- Mentioned on the Dean's list 3 years in a row (2020-2022)
- Organized and oversaw a student car wash that raised $1,000 for Feeding America
- Won the Computer Entrepreneur Award my freshman year
This section is best located underneath your education section towards the bottom of your resume. Again, be sure to quantify your achievements wherever possible, especially in this section.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.