Newbie job applicants are often surprised to learn that employers want to see resumes for entry-level listings. Knowing how to write a resume with no experience is an essential life skill, and it can make all the difference between breaking into your field or stagnating in a non-degreed position.
I’ve geared this guide toward helping fresh college graduates find their first jobs. However, the strategies below can benefit seasoned adults who are changing career paths, as well.
Employers’ insistence on years of experience for entry-level hiring has created one of the biggest frustrations facing Millennial and Gen-Z job seekers. From a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense. The hiring process is expensive, and so companies, fearing an economic downturn, and want to hire employees who pose the lowest risk — that is, those who aren’t likely to quit or be fired within a short time frame.
This is why you hear about out-of-work professionals who were forced to drop advanced degrees from their resumes in order to get hired. This was the case with an old professor of mine, who had to drop both his PhD and Master’s before he found work. Although he was willing to take what he could get, his nice resume said otherwise: I’m just waiting for something better to come along. You’re better off hiring someone else, someone who’ll stick around.
Now, you have the opposite problem. Your job application documents say, I’m a punk kid with absolutely no marketable skills. I want a job, any job, to teach me those skills, and then I’m out of here. The onus is on you — and your resume — to show that you have the skills your employer wants, and that you’re a serious, dedicated candidate.
When you finish here, you’ll know how to write a resume with no experience, which will lay the foundation for every resume you write in the future. That’s right: after you write this one, it’s just a matter of updating and tailoring the information in it to fit your next job application. Let’s get started.
How to Write a Resume with No Experience
Contrary to what some may believe, resumes are no longer dry, bulleted lists of employment and education history. Today’s application documents have those things, but they also give prospective employers a taste of your personality and capability. A dated-looking resume can signal to a hiring manager that you are old fashioned, at best, or out of the loop, at worst.
Before you begin writing your resume, you need a solid grasp on what skills you possess that employers want. These are your marketable skills, and they should feature prominently on your resume. If you don’t know how to identify your marketable skills, check out that guide and return here when you’re done.
Decide on a Format
Your resume should highlight the talents you bring to the workplace, serve as an at-a-glance reference of your employment and education history, tell prospective employers where to find you online and in-person, and showcase your personality — all in one to two pages.
Clearly, the format you choose can make or break you. There are plenty of free resume templates on the Internet, so I’m not going to go into what your options are here. As long as the format you choose fulfills the requirements above, you’re set.
I will give you a few general pointers, however. Your resume should be pleasant to read, so stay away from extremely small or large text sizes and difficult colors. Avoid decorative and whimsical fonts. And if your resume looks this bad — which I hope it doesn’t — scrap it and try again.
Tailor, Tailor, Tailor
Now, before we go further, let me say that it is 100 percent OK to have more than two pages of resume material. In fact, I encourage you to have as many marketable skills as possible on your first resume, because it will make this step that much easier.
Unless you are applying to similar positions at similar companies, your resume will need to be tailored for each job. I know that sounds stressful, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
To tailor your resume, simply reorganize its information to highlight the qualities you have that will be the most valuable to your prospective employer. For those of you who categorized your marketable skills, pay attention to the order of both your categories and the bullet points within them.
If you have held several part-time jobs, you may wish to remove any that are not relevant to the job you’re trying to get. This tip will probably be more useful once you’ve amassed some professional experience, however.
Once you have built your resume, make sure to keep it up-to-date. Many people only update their resumes when it’s time to renew their job search. Don’t do this. All too often, waiting to update your resume results in a lot of unneeded stress, as you worry about starting dates, supervisory change-ups, and other little bits of information.
I’m not saying you need to have your resume document pulled up at all times throughout the workday, but you should revisit it about once a month to make sure it’s up-to-date. Make edits sooner if
- you got a new website;
- your employer got a new website;
- anyone’s contact information changed;
- your supervisor changed;
- you won an award;
- you got a promotion;
- or a company, organization, or publication is now defunct.
Remember, even though it isn’t necessary, updating your resume regularly will save you the headache of making changes under duress. It will also make the transition from entry level to seasoned candidate an easier one, because your resume will change with you as a new professional.
Have any more questions about how to write a resume with no experience? Drop me a line in the comments!
Click here to find out how to write a cover letter with no experience.
Image Credit: geralt