How To Write A Resume With No Work Experience
Not having any work experience should not get in the way of writing a successful, job winning resume.
To land your first job, you will need to draw upon your experience as a student, volunteer, self-taught hobbyist, community helper, or some other role in which you learned and demonstrated skills that a company is looking for. So as we go forward, it will be important to think of experience not as “work experience” but instead as a way to describe the time we’ve put into learning a skill – regardless of where or how we’ve learned it.
Building The Resume
The way in which you order things may change depending on what position you’re applying to, but you will generally want to start the resume with your strongest qualifications and work down from there.
For example, if you know a job values a specific degree that you happen to have, then you would lead the resume with your education. If you’re applying for an apprenticeship that doesn’t value college and you happen to have one or two needed skills that you learned during a summer in high school, you would want to start your resume by listing those skills in a skills section.
Writing A Solid Objective/Summary
After your name and contact information, you will want to create a sentence or two that summarizes the best of what you have to offer. Since you won’t have a professional career to summarize, we can use an objective for this purpose.
Objectives have gotten a bad name over the years but that’s generally because people used the same one for every job they applied for. Whether you want to label it as an objective or a summary is up to you, but what you write should include a combination of the following: summarizing your best skills & how you used them, and why you want to work for the particular company/in the particular industry.
How much of each section you use will depend a lot on the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying to McDonald’s then talking about your experience in class projects that were fast paced or volunteering at the cash register at a school fair are more important than talking about why you want to work for McDonald’s in the fast food industry.
On the other hand, if you’re applying for jobs that are in your long term career goals and related to a degree you have then in addition to talking about your skills, you may want to also discuss what you value in the company and/or industry.
In any event, whatever you talk about should be directly related to the companies wants and needs. That is why it is important to customize your summary for each company you apply to.
Just like if you had actual job experience, any volunteer or other experience you’ve gained should include four pieces of information:
- The Company or Organization
- The Location
- The Date
- Description of Experience
The company or organization can be broad or specific. If you mowed lawns for one particular neighbor, then list the name of the neighbor.
As far as dates go, be as specific as you can to explain the depth of the experience. If you volunteered at a blood drive as a medical assistant for one day, put it as one day. Do not lie or exaggerate your experience. Instead, be honest about the time while explaining what you did and how well you performed your duties.
It can also be important to show and explain how you learned. Many first time job employers know that you won’t know everything and actually would like the opportunity to teach you to do things a specific way. Demonstrating that you are a hard working and eager learner goes a long way as a first time job seeker.
No matter where you end up listing your education, it too needs four pieces of crucial information:
- Name of the school
- Graduation Date
- Degree Earned
If you rely heavily on your skills learned from your schooling then your education section may also include bullet points with descriptions of how you used those skills.
If your graduation isn’t within the next year, you may instead want to list the number of credits you have accumulated toward your degree.
You may also want to list specific courses that are very relevant to the job and what they’re looking for. Make sure to go into detail about why you’ve listed the classes instead of just listing course names.
Ultimately, the key to your success as a new job seeker will be a positive attitude and a willingness to make yourself stand out. In the digital age, try to drop off resumes in person. If nothing else, work on your people skills and make people say no to you face-to-face instead of never responding to an e-mail.
Take time on your resumes as well. Don’t just send off a million resumes a week and think you’re doing a great job search. Pay attention to what the company is actually looking for and study job duties and descriptions that they list.
I’ve created a few resume templates specifically for people with no experience, and you can download them for free by clicking here.