It’s time for your first job hunt.
Writing a resume for your first job or simply applying somewhere with no experience can be a scary prospect. You may have no idea:
Where to start?
How to write your resume?
How to find a job?
Don’t worry …
You should start writing a professional resume utmost – keeping in mind you will be avoiding the experience part which an employer mostly expecting at their end.
The best way to start by listing your job skills, or even which resume format to choose.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to leverage your relevant experience to get the job you want even if you think you have no experience to put on a resume.
Plus, you’ll get to see how to write a resume from beginning to end, and what to focus on when your employment history is (close to) non-existent.
You’re going to learn:
- How to format your resume with no work experience
- 4 sections to replace work experience (that help you stand out)
- 2 no-work experience resume samples (guaranteed to land you the job)
All experience counts, and the best way is, you present yourself, your skills, and your assets to a hiring manager is to provide them with a strong resume that showcases your own unique talents.
How to Get Your Resume Noticed
Start by mining your life experience and academic achievements to show that you’ll be an asset to the company, despite the fact that you don’t have any related job titles to show off at this stage in your career.
For your first resume, take the soft skills (also known as “people skills”) you have and show how they translate into success where you choose to apply them. Include volunteer experience, school achievements, sports, clubs, and organizations you belong to.
Other “people skills” that employers often seek in entry-level job applicants include traits like dependability, good communication and organizational skills, a solid work ethic, and teamwork.
Get Started: Make a Resume for Your First Job
1. Choose the best resume structure
The resume you’re about to write will consist of the following sections:
- Header: that includes your contact details.
- Objective: i.e. a short paragraph summarizing your skills.
- Education: where you add info on the schools you attended.
- Experience: section. Paradoxical? Yes. But it may come in handy. You’ll see.
- Skills: section, where you list your key abilities.
Apart from these, your resume will surely benefit from such additional sections as languages, hobbies, certifications, etc. Anything that you can do that’s relevant to the job you’re pursuing should end up on your resume with no work experience.
2. Decide on a resume format
There are a few dominant resume templates in use today: chronological, functional, and hybrid, which is a combination of the two.
A chronological resume format lists a candidate’s work experience in reverse-chronological order.
A functional resume format focuses on highlighting the candidate’s skills and achievements, rather than work experience.
While the functional resume format can be an attractive option for job seekers with little experience, most employers prefer a chronological or hybrid resume format.
Whatever resume format you decide to use, be sure that your format remains consistent throughout the job resume.
3. Put down your contact information
Just like the name suggests, the first thing you add to your header is your personal and contact information. It’s the easiest part to get right, just keep it short and to the point.
In your contact information section, mention the following:
- First and Last Name
- Phone Number
- E-mail Address
- A link to a professional profile (e.g. LinkedIn) or personal webpage (if you have one)
Pro Tip: Make sure you use a professional-sounding e-mail such as [email protected]
4. Include a professional summary statement
While researching how to write a resume, you probably read about the benefits of including a resume summary.
Your resume summary is an introduction to employers that highlights your qualifications and relevant background for a specific job. Thankfully, even without experience, you can still write one.
A resume summary statement sums up who you are professionally at the top of the page in a sentence or two and serves as the first impression you give a hiring manager to entice them to keep reading.
If you picked up relevant skills during school or studied something related to the job, for instance, you can include it in your summary.
5. Emphasize your education:
When you’re creating your first resume, it’s important to highlight your education. This will show employers you’re able to overcome challenges, stick to your commitments and learn new things.
You can also take this opportunity to share coursework you’ve completed that is relevant to the job. And because you’re applying for your first-time job, it’s okay to make this section longer to fit your academic experiences.
In lieu of a work experience section, it’s best to expand and focus on an education section to highlight the skills you’ve developed on your resume.
What can you do well that this job requires?
What will be useful to the hiring company?
What have you done in school and what have you studied that has prepared you for assuming this job?
This is generally a little easier if you’re a college graduate with specialized education, but even a high school graduate can talk about their electives and relevant coursework, why they wanted to take them, and what they learned from the class.
6. Work experience
When writing your first resume with no work experience, it is a problem to decide what to write in this part. But you do not need to worry as you can use these four sections to replace work experience.
Paid and unpaid college internships are one of the best weapons you have against “experience required.” Not only do they give you some real-world work experience, but they also allow you to network and make connections that can put you in a job later. When applying for a job without experience, be sure to list any internships you completed. If you haven’t had one, consider applying as a step before an entry-level job.
b) Extracurricular activities:
You can create a section for extracurricular activities. List anything you are passionate about that shows your positive attitude and aptitude for the job you’re applying for, such as playing a musical instrument, clubs, sports, and other activities. In your resume, list the relevant activity and include a brief description.
c) Volunteering experience:
This could be formal or informal volunteering, such as serving food at a local homeless shelter or helping your neighbor rake leaves. For each volunteer activity, include who you volunteered with, what your role was, the dates and hours you volunteered, and a brief description.
In this section, you can add any relevant projects you were part of during your time in school or at an internship. Your capstone project, graduation thesis, or research project go here.
You can also mention any other type of project you’ve worked on in school, including:
- Business project for a real-life client
- The mock website you created in Web Design 101
- The fake magazine you created as a capstone project
- Market research you did as part of your graduation thesis
- The software you developed in Software Engineering class
7. Pay attention to technical details
When editing your resume, make sure there is no punctuation, grammatical, spelling, or other errors that will make your resume look unprofessional.
Then, have a friend or family member read it again to catch any mistakes you might have missed — you can’t afford a typo or missing word as a candidate with no prior work experience.
Also, be sure to vary your language and utilize action verbs throughout your resume to keep your reader engaged.
8. Showcase your relevant skills
Writing a strong resume skills section will set you apart in your job search and increase your chances of landing an interview. However, if you’re like most no-experience job-seekers, your technical skills may be limited.
In this case, use your resume to highlight the soft skills you’ve acquired throughout your life. Soft skills (such as interpersonal skills or communication skills) are applicable for nearly any industry and are valued by employers.
Here are some examples of soft skills:
- Critical thinking
- Positive attitude
Additionally, listing foreign language skills on your resume (if you have any) is a great way to stand out from other applicants and fill out your skills section.
9. Take stock of your achievements and activities
Make a list of absolutely everything you’ve done that might be useful on a resume. From this list, you’ll then need to narrow down what to actually include on your resume.
Different things might be relevant to different jobs you apply for, so keep a full list and pick the most relevant things from it to include on your resume when you send it out.
10. Use some keywords
Most employers use some form of an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan and sort resumes. This may seem unfair, but it is the reality of modern-day hiring. To combat this, you will want to come up with and include a list of keywords in your resume when applying for any job.
The best place to find these keywords is in the job ad itself, or in ads for similar jobs. You may use our (LINK HERE = job search) to find relevant jobs.
One caveat: Don’t use meaningless, annoying “buzzwords,” such as “go-getter,” “team player,” and “detail-oriented.” Unfortunately, sometimes these buzzwords are the only keywords listed in the ad.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to sneak them in alongside your detailed accomplishments.
Add a good cover letter
Even if one is not required, it’s generally a good idea to send a short cover letter along with your resume. Cover letters are where your personality comes out, and you need to use them to make the case for why you’re the perfect candidate for this job.
A standout cover letter can convince an employer to bring you in for an interview, even if your resume itself doesn’t have all the things they’d like to see.
Customize your resume to the job opening
With no experience, your best chance to get an interview is to target your resume to the specific job you want. Check out their listing for the position, and see what skills they’re looking for.
From those skills, take the ones you have and place them in your skills section.
You can also reuse some of the languages elsewhere in your resumes, like in your resume summary or experience section.
Fitting these skills into your resume is important because many companies still use applicant tracking systems (or ATS) to scan for resume keywords. This helps them filter large quantities of applicants and determine which ones are worth evaluating further.
If you make an ATS-friendly resume, you set yourself up for success against candidates who might have more experience than you.
Things to Consider Creating a Resume with no experience
Employers want to know you’re proud of your achievements and confident in your skills. Make sure this comes through in your resume by highlighting all your best and most relevant strengths and accomplishments.
Keep it concise
Recruiters often have several applications to review and may spend less than a minute reading your resume. Your resume should be powerful but brief. It should be easy for the recruiter to quickly understand how your history and experience align with the job they’re offering. Be sure to view Indeed’s list of resume examples for inspiration.
No matter how tempting it might be to stretch the truth, lying on your resume is always a bad idea. You might make it through this round of interviews and even get the job, but you won’t be able to deliver on the promises your resume offered. Plus, you’ll probably be caught—and fired.2
You don’t need to include the line “references upon request,” or personal information beyond your contact information, or a bunch of unrelated hobbies. In fact, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t need to put on your resume, even when it’s your first one.
Avoid including these certain elements
While there are many elements you should consider adding to your resume, there are a few things you should never include on your resume because they waste space, don’t tell the employer anything relevant, or could damage your personal brand.
This list includes, but is not limited, to references, writing samples, and photos of yourself. Do not add this information to your resume unless an employer or recruiter asks you to provide them. In addition, make sure you’re not using an unprofessional email address. eg: “[email protected]” may have sounded great when you were younger, but it’s not the right message to send to prospective employers.
It’s easy to create a free, professional-looking email address for your job-search activities with platforms like Gmail, Hotmail, etc.
When you’re entering the job market for the first time and creating a resume with no work experience, you’ll want to focus on other experiences that helped you develop a professional skill set, share your greatest strengths and highlight your education.
Writing a resume with no formal work experience isn’t easy. Fortunately, our examples, writing tips, and guide will show you how to write a resume with no experience that’s strong enough to impress employers.