There’s a common pitfall faced by many first-time job-seekers. To get a job, you need to have some experience. But to get experience, you need a job.
It’s no secret that you need a detailed, polished resume in order to land that first interview. But how do you make a resume when you have nothing to include on it?
If you’re looking for tips on how to make a resume with no experience, you’ve come to the right place. Believe it or not, it can be done – and you don’t have to add fluff or BS, either. Here are some tips to take your resume from so-so to spectacular (with no work experience required).
How To Make A Resume With No Experience: 7 Easy Tips
1. Start With A Summary
It’s not just about filling up space – starting your resume off with a nice summary is a good way to draw the employer’s eye to your document and to make it clear what your career goals actually are.
A clear resume objective statement will show your prospective employer that you have goals – even if your work history is a little bit lacking. Summaries have, by and large, taken the place of antiquated objective statements, but they are more or less the same thing – except you’re showing the employer what you have to offer rather than what the employer can do for you to help you meet your career objectives.
How do you write one of these summary (or objective) statements? Simply state your career goals. You’ll put this at the top of your page and use it to sum up who you are as a professional. Make sure it’s not too long and drawn-out, though. A sentence or two are really all you need.
2. Make A Skills-Based Resume
Don’t have a ton of work experience to add to your resume? That’s okay – create a functional resume that focuses more on your education and your skills.
You can even break down your educational qualifications even further by adding skills that you gained during these educational experiences.
- What sorts of skills did you build in certain college courses?
- What sorts of things can you do exceptionally well that this job requires?
- What will be most useful?
Skills may include:
- Proficiency in Excel
- Social Media Marketing Skills
- Web Design Skills
- Sales Skills
- Research Skills
- And more
This strategy of creating a skills-based resume is the most effective if you take the time to create a tailored resume that is customized to the specific job posting. Don’t make the mistake of creating a one-size-fits-all resume that you lazily send out to dozens of job postings. Instead, tailor each and every resume to that specific job. You’ll be more likely to nail the required qualifications by doing this.
This technique is also made a bit easier if you are a college graduate, since you’ll have a more specialized education and background that will make it easier to pinpoint the skills you want to include (plus, you’ll have age on your side, too). However, that’s not to say that you can’t make a skills-based resume as a high school student or recent high school grad, either. You can talk about various electives you chose and what you learned from that class (the same goes for clubs, sports, and other activities, too).
3. Are You Sure You Have No Experience?
Something that lots of people forget is to take inventory of their achievements and activities. Particularly if you’re fresh out of high school, this inventory can be useful in fleshing out your resume and showing what you’ve accomplished.
Let’s face it – if you’re applying to an entry-level job that requires no college education, for example, those different activities and qualifications might be just as telling as work experience. Keep a running list of everything you’ve done so that you always have a solid list to choose from when you’re building a resume.
So many people fall into the trap of assuming that they have no experience, when the reality is that they have a wealth of experience – just not any paid experience. Fortunately, most employers really don’t care.
Consider adding things like internships to your resume. Internships not only provide you with real-world work opportunities and experience, but they also let you network, make connections, and build skills. Who cares whether you drew a paycheck?
The same goes for extracurricular activities and volunteer work. Most employers take volunteer work into consideration the same way they would pay for work experience. In some limited conditions, you may even b able to include hobbies.
How do you know if you should add a hobby to your resume? It’s simple – if it has anything to do with the job for which you are applying, go ahead and include it. For example, if your passions include gardening and you’re applying for a job at a plant nursery, that would be a hobby to include.
Also, is it experience you are lacking or simply relevant experience? If it’s relevant experience, don’t be afraid of adding your relevant experience, but be sure to detail the skills that you earned at that job that will best serve you and your employer in your new position.
4. Add Solid References
It doesn’t matter whether they’re past employers or coaches from sports teams you once played on – a reference is a reference. While an employer’s reference will always be the most trustworthy, adding solid references from other sources is a great way to flesh out a lackluster resume, too.
Just make sure these are professional references and not personal ones. As much as your Great Aunt Susie loves you, the job recruiter probably doesn’t want to hear about it.
5. Leave Certain Pieces Out
There are a few elements that you should avoid including on your resume, regardless of how much (or how little) experience you have.
For example, you aren’t going to want to include those references we mentioned on the resume itself. This is something you will for sure want to have on hand, but you shouldn’t print directly on the resume document itself.
You also should not include photos of yourself, writing samples, or unprofessional information like unprofessional email addresses.
6. Follow Proper Resume Formatting
Pick a style, and stick to it. One of the most common pitfalls that people fall into when making their resumes is not sticking to clear and consistent formatting.
There are many resume formats out there, and you can use any kind of style you want, but make sure you remain dedicated to it throughout. There are several that are dominant in the workplace today – the chronological resume, the hybrid resume, and the functional resume.
A chronological resume is one that lists a candidate’s work experience in reverse order by date, while a functional resume will focus on your skills and achievements. A hybrid resume, of course, is a combination of the two.
If you’re new to the workforce or don’t have much relevant work experience to speak of, you may want to opt for the functional resume. Again, just be consistent.
Also, make sure you are attentive to technical details. This, again, is true for all job seekers, but when your resume has a bit more blank space on the page, you’ll want to make sure you’ve omitted any possible grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. This is not only distracting, but it will make your resume look unprofessional – something you definitely don’t need when you’re already lacking in the experience department.
7. Use Keywords That Pop
Many employers now use applicant tracking systems to scan and sort resumes for qualified candidates. It sounds ridiculous, but in modern-day hiring, it’s not uncommon for one job posting to yield hundreds of responses. Employers need a quick way to weed out the worst in the pile.
To get around these scanning systems, you’ll want to look closely at the job posting and scan for keywords yourself. Which buzzwords are used in the posting?
At the same time, avoid annoying cliches like “go-getter,” “detail-oriented,” and “team player.” These won’t get you far, and will make your resume look like all the rest. The one exception to this if they are included in the job posting itself (this is something that really makes us cringe!). If that’s the case, go ahead and include them, but use them sparingly.
No Experience? Stand Out From The Crowd- Despite Your Newness
The best tip you can follow for creating a resume when you have zero or limited work experience is to make it stand out among the crowd.
Customize your resume to each and every job you are applying for. Different job postings will have different requirements and different keywords. Not only will customizing your resume make it memorable for the recruiter, but it will make it memorable for you, too. By familiarizing yourself with the job posting, you’ll have a better understanding of the job’s duties and requirements that will make you stand out even more when it comes time to interview.
Another easy tip you can follow is to create a cover letter – yes, even if one is not required! Adding a cover letter will show that you took the time to read the job description and it will make the employer more likely to call you in for that interview.
At the end of the day, there’s no hidden secret for creating a winning resume. What makes you stand out to one employer might not work with the next. However, by spending some time on the document and thinking carefully about what makes you a qualified candidate, you can easily master the art of making a resume – even with no experience.
Now – go get ‘em!