When I was applying for my first job, I ran into a “catch-22” of sorts. I wanted a job with a regional newspaper, but the newspaper required that applicants have 5 years of experience. In order to get experience, I needed a job with the newspaper – and in order to get the job, I needed experience. It was a frustrating dilemma.
Perhaps you feel similarly in creating your first resume and applying to your first job. Is it possible to create a compelling resume – and get the job you want – without previous experience? Yes, it is.
I eventually got a job and the experience I needed. You can, too. You can use the following tips to create your zero-experience resume.
Check out this link for more details on writing a resume with no job experience.
Start with a Summary Statement
According to some estimates, hiring managers spend less than 10 seconds deciding whether to read your resume or pass on it. You can use the summary statement to make a good first impression.
You will use the summary statement to state your attitude, abilities, and short-term career goals in four sentences or less. If you can reference some past relevant non-work experience (more on that below), do so. Consider an example.
Imagine you’re applying for a line cook position at a fast-food restaurant. Your summary statement might read something like this:
A self-motivated and responsible individual interested in obtaining an entry-level line cook position. Experience includes the use of the oven, cooktop, and deep fryer appliances in preparing meals for up to 10 people. Currently enrolled in a culinary arts course.
This summary statement shows that the applicant has some experiences and skills relevant to the job, even though they were not gained via employment.
The summary statement has a helpful latent function as well. Resumes with no experience can appear sparse, not filling the page. The summary statement fills some of that blank space, visually giving the impression that you’re bringing a lot to the table.
Relevant Non-Work Experience
In the Experience section, you would usually include your work experience. But in this case, you can list relevant non-work activities instead.
Remember that any experience you list should be relevant to the job you are applying for. That doesn’t mean it has to be related to the same field. Think instead in terms of transferable skills. What soft skills did you use in each activity that could be useful in any job you might hold in the future?
List your non-work experiences in the same manner as you would a job. For example, include the sponsoring organization’s name, the city and state, dates, position title (even if there was no official title, you can describe your role in one to two words), and a bulleted list of duties highlighting skills.
Which of the following types of experiences can you include?
Volunteering is a go-to for non-work experience. Why? Because volunteers perform tasks that others might receive a paycheck for in a different context.
Volunteerism is also a treasure trove of transferable skills. Perhaps your volunteer experience allowed you to be a leader, work as a team, make decisions, organize activities, communicate with others, multitask, or manage your time wisely.
National Beta Club, National Honor Society, Debate Team, 4-H Club, Future Farmers of America, Math Team, Chess Club, university sororities or fraternities – different organization memberships can display different experiences and abilities. Some might include leadership, teamwork, communication, academic excellence, or responsibility. Always mention roles you held within the club, such as secretary, treasurer, or president.
Did you participate in a large academic project, either in high school or at university? Extensive projects can display skills such as leadership, decision-making, critical thinking, and creativity. This is especially the case if you had a position title (for example, project lead or event manager) within your team. Focus on projects that spanned weeks or months – especially those that culminated in quantifiable results.
Interns often perform in the same capacity as entry-level employees. Internships may be paid or unpaid – and paid internships often hold equal weight with actual work experience.
Publications was once a much-lauded resume section reserved for academics and successful authors. Today, however, getting your work before the eyes of readers is easier than ever – it just takes a bit of legwork.
In my experience recounted at the outset, I wrote for a student newspaper. You may be able to guest post on a blog or website or self-publish a book on Amazon. Publications can highlight communications skills and computer proficiency.