Step-by-Step Guide: How to Use Your Education to Get Hired

Using academic coursework as a value-adding substitute to professional experience

So a while back we were wondering, “why do students sell their education with just one line on their resume?” The employment value of having a quality education, belonging to relevant associations, and campus involvement can be much more compelling.  Often times, we see students fail to use this information to make themselves more attractive to employers. 

Many students will learn practical application with a certain skill in an academic setting, but not in a professional setting. This leads to the familiar problem of  “Graduated with a degree in X, but I don’t have any experience… Help me”. This is an easy problem to fix since they’ve just dedicated 4 years to learn employable skills. So in this guide, we’ll go step-by-step to see how students can use academic coursework as a value-adding substitute for professional experience. This guide will be broken down into the two components of resume construction; formatting and content. 

Step One: Optimizing Resume Formatting 

Bring out your existing resume, and take a nice look at it. It probably looks something like this: 

The example resume that will be optimized to pass ATS in this guide

Which is completely normal for a student resume but we want to be exceptional, normal is never enough when competing against hundreds of other job applicants.  Proper formatting is tedious so you may be thinking “How should my resume be formatted”? Well, the answer isn’t black and white but as long as your content is easily accessible and the formatting follows most ATS optimization mechanics, you should be good to go. 

This is the Rezi BETA Resume Template — a highly-optimized resume template that we’ll be using as an example for this guide. We’ve written an easy to follow step-by-step formatting guide on how to recreate the BETA template for yourself. However, adding an academic coursework section to your resume will be useless if the remaining isn’t formatted correctly for ATS. 

What is ATS? Applicant tracking systems organize resumes submitted by job seekers. When you submit your resume through an ATS, it stores your resume and an entry in the database. The recruiters then search for keywords for the particular job opening. If your resume contains the keywords the employer wants, then the ATS will rank you higher in the search results which means a greater chance of being selected for an interview. 

Step Two: Creating a “Relevant Coursework & Skills” Section 

In this step, we’ll be integrating the “Relevant Coursework & Skills” section.

To do this, we will need to quickly add a horizontal line and some styled text.

To add a line In Word, select the section heading and go to Format in the menubar. From here, you’ll make changes in Borders and Shading.

• Select the Section Header

• Select the Borders tab

• Under Setting, select Custom

• For Style, select a solid line. For Color, choose black. For Width, choose “1/2″.

• In the preview area, click the Bottom Border icon to the left of the preview image.

Next, make sure your sections headers use all CAPS and are boldedLooking good. Now, all we need to do is write the content. 

Step Three: Writing the “Relevant Coursework & Skills” Content 

We’ll be listing the instances when you’ve used employable skills, that are required for the job posting, in an academic setting. This will show the employer that you have the correct technical skills even though you don’t have examples of application in a professional setting. It also allows you to increase ATS readability by incorporating keywords found in the job description.

The ordering of the information is consistent with the name of the section to avoid confusion when the hiring manager reviews the resume. This is the order we use in the BETA template.

Let’s Look at an Example

Let’s pretend an undergraduate economics major is applying for their first internship, as an analyst, which requires the mathematics-orientated programs STATA and MATLAB. While the student has never used the programs in a professional setting, the student has worked extensively with them in Introductory Econometrics, and Differential Equations & Linear Algebra respectively. Click here for a clearer image of the section.

 Step Four: Jobscan Your Content 

Finally head over to to find out how well you’ve written your resume in accordance to the job description you’re applying to. It will give you instant feedback telling you what resume keywords to prioritize, what your resume format should be, and what changes you can make to get past the resume screeners.


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Views from the IG

  • Remember that if you have limited professional experience, you can include other sections on your resume. Be creative and see how you can fill the page with a combination of internships, projects, volunteering, coursework, and education. Just don't reduce the font to 9 and make the recruiter need to pull out a microscope! Usually a font size of 11-12 will give the best results. 
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  • Tailoring your resume is crucial to your success. Would you rather send 35 generic resumes and get 2 interviews, or send 10 resumes best suited for you and end up with 4 interviews? We have mentioned in past posts how a hiring manager with many resumes to look over might not spend more than several seconds scanning yours. Along with job titles, they are also checking to see if you have the skills necessary for the job. Go through the job description and highlight any job related skills (hard and soft) that it asks for. Then make sure to include those keywords on your resume! Of course only if they apply to you. Making the effort to tailor your resume to each job you apply for will pay off. Don't forget to do the same thing for your cover letter! 
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  • A follow-up to yesterday's post. Remember to list achievements as much as possible rather than just describing your job duties. Let's take a look at a possible bullet on a resume: "responsible for assisting with marketing strategies."🚫❌ That is boring and uninsightful. How can we make it better? By getting specific. 🔥"Created marketing plan with the help of google analytics for an annual fundraiser that made $10,000 in the first 3 days of the campaign."🔥Much better! 💪
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  • An effective resume should focus on accomplishments rather than duties and responsibilities. If you only copy paste the job descriptions from your previous positions then there is nothing that sets you apart from the competition. Potential employers want to know you were a go-getter in past roles who MADE things happen and didn't just passively occupy a seat in the office. Use hard numbers and meaningful metrics to show how you solved problems, enhanced revenue, grew the business or met challenges. You are a superstar, so let them know it! 🌠✨⭐
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  • 😯Worried because you think the only thing you have to list on your resume is your first job washing dishes for your local restaurant? Well great news! ☺There is so much more you can include on your resume than just work experience. Perhaps you majored in French, but took a course in copywriting which is relevant to your desired job. Expand your education section by including that course. Maybe you helped organize an art exhibition or other event? Fantastic, you've got organizational skills.✔ Be creative with your resume and see how you can fill the page with a combination of internships, projects, volunteering, coursework, and education. 💡
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  • Rezi resume tip #2💪💪
No one needs to know about the embarassing things that happened to you in high school. Leave all that drama in the past where it belongs! Resumes should only include your university education, which can be used to highlight any job-relevant courses you took. In most cases GPA will not be necessary to add, however if yours is stellar then feel free to include it. 😃
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  • 🔥Resume tip #1🔥💯 Research from @workopolis shows that recruiters spend an average of fewer than 11 seconds looking at your resume before possibly rejecting your application. 11 seconds! When is the last time you did anything in 11 seconds, other than opening the kitchen cupboard to grab a new bag of Doritos? Don't make it easy for employers to toss you in the no pile by making the information that is important to them easy to find. Ensure a nicely formatted document with work history, education, and skills sections plainly marked. Make sure there are no typos and list all your start and end dates as well as job titles. 👌💥
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  • Stay tuned for our top resume tips! We will be sharing #1 with you tomorrow. 😎🔜☝☝ @tonyrobbins recently posted about research showing 80% of people give up on their New Year resolutions by the 2nd week of February. This is not going to be you. You have a goal this year to get that dream job and you are going to do more than just talk about it! What resources, strategies, and tools are you going to use to crush your goal? Start by turning your dusty old resume into a winner by implementing our top resume tips that we will be sharing with you starting tomorrow! Ride the 🌊🌊 of success with Rezi!
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