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The time has come to find a new, full time, grown up job — but now that you’re ready to find a job, you have no experience to put on your resume!
Maybe you’ve been in school for the past few years, and you’ve never had a real job aside from an internship, a part time job, or the occasional volunteer work. How are you supposed to make someone want to hire you?
Here’s the good news:
Valuable skills and experience come from more places than a just a full time job! The trick is being able to pick out which of your experiences are the most valuable, figuring out which skills you’ve developed are the most impressive, and making them work for the job you’re applying for. Even better yet — none of this is as hard as it might seem.
Here’s everything you need to know to write an entry level candidate for someone with no experience and land an interview:
Even if you’ve never had a full time job before, you still have plenty of other experiences you can draw from. Valuable skills that impress employers can come from all sorts of places, not just a full time job.
Part time jobs: If you’ve had a part-time job or an internship where you developed important hard or soft skills, go ahead and list it! Turns out these jobs weren’t completely pointless — they’re actually important learning experiences and great stepping stones toward a professional career.
Volunteering: Volunteering is a great way to show that you spend your time doing something more important than just playing beer pong or video games. Volunteering is also a valuable experience that can help you develop important skills, so make sure to list it.
Civic and youth organizations: If you thought all those years participating in scouts or 4-H programs were just a waste of time, well, you’re wrong. That’s right, your parents made you participate in these organizations for more reasons other than getting your butt off the couch. If you have limited experience to put on your first resume, these activities will come in handy.
Extracurricular activities: If you participated in activities while in school like clubs, student government, or you had a captain or leadership position for a sport, these are great things to include for a resume with limited experience. Make sure to include any achievements or recognition you achieved in these roles.
When you list your experience, go beyond just listing the most important responsibilities you held in that position. Mention any achievements that prove you can add value to what you do.
If you’ve ever won employee of the month, if you increased participation in a club or organization, or if you created a process to increase efficiency at your job, this is all important information for employers to know about you.
If you’re still a student or if you’re a recent graduate, your education is one of your strongest assets, so make sure to include it on your resume!
List the school you went to, the degree you received, and any achievements like Dean’s List, Chancellor’s List, or any other forms of recognition.
If you studied abroad or you graduated with a high GPA, include this information. Employers are impressed by recent graduates’ achievements, so it’s important to highlight them on your resume.
Pro Tip: If your GPA is below a 3.0, you might want to leave it out. Otherwise, employers will think that most of your experience is sleeping through important lectures or failing to attend class.
When you’re reading job listings, take note of the required skills or tasks listed in the job description, and make sure to reflect them in your own skills and experience sections on your resume.
Employers typically only spend six seconds looking at a resume, and using these keywords throughout your resume will show hiring managers at a glance that you would be a good fit for the job.
If any employer likes your entry level resume so much that they want to call you in for an interview, they’re going to need to know how to get in contact with you. And if you forget to put this information on your resume, well, you’re shit out of luck.
Always include your name, email, phone number, and the city you live in on your resume. To keep everything looking neat and tidy, you can compile all of these things together at the top the page in a handy dandy header.
Pro Tip: Make sure you provide a professional sounding email. No one will want to hire you if your email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a good rule of thumb for resumes of all types. Remember to only emphasize achievements and skills that show your value as a candidate.
For example, if you want to work in renewable energy, your internship working for a solar company is important, but your recognition as the fastest swimmer at summer camp won’t be as valuable. Stick to listing skills and experience that relate to the job.
An entry level resume should never exceed one page, which is good news! If this is your first ever resume, you might not have a whole bunch of information to include.
Aim to fill the whole page, but, again, make sure everything you put on your resume can all tie back into the job you’re applying for. If you need to, adjust your margins so that they’re the maximum size of 1 inch.
Also, don’t try to fill your resume up with statements like “References available upon request.” These things go without saying, and there’s really no reason to put them on your resume. If an employer wants to speak with your references, they’ll ask.
This one is super important. The biggest giveaway that you’re a rookie in the working world is to have a resume filled with typos and grammar mistakes. Plus, it’s just unprofessional and lazy. Employers see a ton of resumes everyday, and something as small as a typo could get yours thrown in the trash.
To make sure your resume has a lifespan longer than one second, thoroughly proofread your resume for spelling and grammar errors, inconsistencies in format (like bold, italics, or bullet points).
It might even be worth it to ask a friend or family member look over it just in case your brain is so fried from the stress of writing a resume that you don’t even notice you spelled your name wrong.
Last, but certainly not least, you should never lie on your resume. No matter how tempting it might be to fluff your resume up with a few little white lies, it’s always a bad idea.
Even if you make it through the interviews and land the job, you won’t be able to deliver on the the skills you promised in your resume. Plus, if you get caught, you’ll probably get fired. Just don’t do it.
Writing your first resume can seem like a daunting, nightmarish experience. It can seem like a nearly impossible challenge to convince someone to hire you when you don’t have any real experience in your industry.
Experience comes from all sorts of places, not just from working a full time job. Being able to pick out which skills and experiences are valuable to sell yourself to employers is a great way to show that you’re an awesome candidate and land the job.
For more advice on writing resumes, check out these articles:
30 Fail Proof Ways to Write a Resume that Wows
15 Things to Avoid Putting on Your Resume
How to Show Promotions on Your Resume
Best Companies To Work For