How To Show Your Experience On A Resume… Even When You Don’t Have Any

By Chris Kolmar - Sep. 12, 2016

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Writing a resume can seem like a pretty daunting task on a good day—but for someone who is just out of college with absolutely no experience? It seems near impossible.

Hey, wait, we said near impossible. See the thing is, there are tons of people in this boat. In fact, most recent college graduates are probably wondering the exact same thing you are—

If I don’t have any professional experience yet, what am I supposed to put on my resume?

That’s where we come in.

You DO Have Experience

You might think you have no experience, but that’s not really true, is it? You have plenty of experience. You have life experience, you might have internship experience, and you certainly have experience from school. And that stuff is nothing to be sneezed at!

So let’s start with your summary.

Are you looking for job opportunities?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

Summary

Here’s an example: Recent graduate with a B.F.A. in English. Excellent writing and editing skills, highly goal oriented, and organized.

Or

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Recent Economics graduate seeks Accountant position with Billy Bob’s Building Firm (or fill in the info that works for you!)

The point is, the summary should be short, sweet, and to the point. It should say quickly who you are, and what you’re after.

Experience Section

Up next, perhaps the biggest challenge of them all for recent graduates—filling in your experience. You don’t want to fill in your experience section with details about your waitressing jobs or other things completely unrelated to the position—but you also don’t want to leave it looking bare.

So what to do?

Focus, yet again, on your skills. Tell your hopeful future employer what you are good at.

For example, you can list, in bullet point format, your skills, and then expunge upon each skill below the bullet point:

  • Excellent Time Management Skills
  • Met strict deadline each week for university’s newspaper, The Wolverine Herald. (Or what have you.)
  • Managed deadlines and assignments for other contributors to the newspaper as Editor in Chief.
  • Etc.

The important thing here is, be sure to include class projects, course work, volunteer work—and anything else that is related to the job you’re applying for. Since you don’t have a lot of (work) experience under your belt, this may not be the longest of sections, but you can certainly beef it up with details.

Don’t be afraid to list what an impact your actions had, specifically! For example, if you increased the readership of your school’s paper during the course of your writing for them (or, fill in the blank here), tell your employer by how much. 20 percent? 30 percent? Don’t be afraid to brag and be specific.

Work History

If you have had jobs during your college career, or before, great! List ‘em. If you’ve had internships, even better. Put those in there, too. The important thing to emphasize here, again, is your experience that is related to the job. So perhaps waitressing isn’t that relevant to the job you want at that ad agency—but you can use this another place to talk about your skills. I’m sure waitressing has given you invaluable interposal and organizational skills, hasn’t it? Put it in there!

Mad Skills

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, if you lack work experience and you’re creating a resume, don’t be stingy with your skills. You’ll want to fill it up with the things you’re best at. And don’t worry—you’re probably applying for an entry-level position with lots of other recent grads who also don’t have much work history. Everyone needs to have one first job—and who knows, that next one you apply to might just be yours. Just let your skills do the talking.

And good luck!

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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