How do you get work experience in a world where every job requires at least six months’ work experience? We’ve all torn our hair out in frustration at this Catch-22. Whether you’re fresh out of high school and looking for your first job, or suddenly regretting not taking that part-time café shift in college, we’ve got you. 🙌
In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a killer resume, despite little-to-no work experience. By marketing yourself, your aspirations, and your soft skills right, there’s no reason why you can’t still demonstrate valuable experience, and land that perfect role.
- Include a Resume Summary (Objective)
Every resume should have a solid resume summary (sometimes called an ‘objective’), to introduce yourself and clarify your experience. For a resume that lacks in that department, it’s perfectly valid to lean into your aspirations and goals instead. A forward-looking summary tells employers that you are eager to learn and will be motivated to learn on the job. For example, you could write:
“Recent XYZ graduate in Civil Engineering, highly motivated to start my career as an Assistant Engineer in a top firm. Highly attentive to detail, with a knack for design and careful planning, I am excited to develop my skills in a hands-on, fast-paced graduate role.”
Keep it to 150 words or less and be sure to include your work aspirations (e.g., a full-time graduate job) and 2-3 of your top skills (technical or personal), whilst keeping the tone upbeat and personable.
2. Include Education Background
As you progress in your career, your education section gets smaller and smaller, but for now, it’s perfectly valid to list your high school and/or college qualifications in detail. Include dates and format in chronological order (most recent at the top). It can also be useful to include any college courses that you think are relevant to the role you are applying for. For example:
University of XYZ, Civil Engineering 2018-2021
– Intro to Engineering Design
– Fluid Mechanics
– Environmental Engineering
ABC High School, Chicago, IL 2012-2018
3. Include any Internships, Work Experience or Volunteer Work
It’s important to realise that any experience, whether paid or not, can be relevant to a new job. For example, if you assisted in the organisation of a charity event at college, or worked part-time in a bar over summer, you still gained valuable skills that an employer is looking for. Look in the job description to find what skills they are looking for and figure out where you might have developed them in your previous experience. For example, if the job description included the keywords, “highly-organised” and “communicative”. You could write:
Work and Voluntary Experience:
Mental Health Charity Volunteer – Events Organisation May 2019
– Organised the ticketing and sales for a charity event in my local community.
– By successfully marketing the event online, we sold 100% of the tickets and made over $800 in donations.
Bartender – Campus College Bar January-July 2021
– Digitised the booking system to improve customer experience and decrease booking errors.
– Was promoted to Team Leader after one year and was praised for effectively communicating the needs and schedules of my team to our line manager.
Remember, employers are more interested in achievements and the skills you learnt, rather than duties – so be sure to prioritise them in your role descriptions.
4. Include Personal Achievements and Awards
Even if it was a high school award or an extra-curricular prize, if you think it might be relevant, it is well worth putting on your resume. A black belt in karate tells employers that you are highly dedicated to success, whilst an award for public speaking demonstrates great presentation skills. For example:
– First place prize in an inter-collegiate Chess tournament, against 20 other individuals.
– Voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by my graduating year group in high school.
5. Include Hobbies and Personal Projects
Nobody wants to hire a soulless worker bee, so seeing that you are a vibrant individual with hobbies and interests will instantly make you stand out. The benefits of having an emptier resume, is that you have the space to go into more detail about these wider interests. Remember to continue prioritising the skills you learnt, even if you’re only considering them now! For example:
Hobbies and Interests:
– Rock climbing and bouldering:
Learnt diligence and patience in training to complete my target climb last May
– Intermediate drummer and bass guitarist:
Self-taught through online lessons and YouTube
Tutored a peer to attain basic guitar level
Never forget, that if you can speak another language, even if just conversationally – this is always worth putting on your resume. If you were less qualified but happened to speak the language commonly used by clients, this might immediately spark interest. For example:
English – fluent (native)
Spanish – intermediate
French – basic (conversational)
7. Now to Format!
Once you’ve written your resume, it’s very important that you get the formatting right, as poor presentation can look very unprofessional. With very little experience, your resume should be no more than one page. Resume formatting trends have changed over time and often look different depending on what industry you are applying for.
Look online to get examples and take the time to pick your fonts, layout, and colours. Try to make it as legible and engaging as possible, taking the reader’s eye to the most important details first. Always use bullet points and headers in place of chunky paragraphs since employers often skim a resume very quickly!
In summary, a resume with little experience isn’t necessarily an issue, as long as you can successfully demonstrate your skills in other ways. Employers are looking for aptitude and attitude and this should be communicated in every line of your resume. Get creative, market yourself with confidence, and land that job! 💪