Writing a resume can be challenging when you don’t have much work experience. So how exactly do you write a resume if you have little or no work experience?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered! By the end of this article you will be able to write your own effective resume – regardless of your actual work experience.
Step 1 – Make the most out of your summary.
Your summary is a great way to convey to the employer why you’re a good fit for the position. Since you don’t have enough work experience, it’s vital that you make the most of this section. In this case your summary won’t really be about what you’ve done, (since you don’t have much experience) but rather what skills you offer.
To make it easier to follow along, we’ll be creating a resume for our fictional example, Tom. Tom recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has only one year of experience. Tom also completed an internship while he was still in school.
“Dedicated “do anything” professional with a passion for business. Knowledgeable across many different areas in regards to business and business management. Ambitious and dedicated team player with a love for learning new concepts. Commended and proven ability to respond to challenges and succeed across a wide range of environments.”
As you can see, we can craft a summary that conveys an image of professionalism and work ethic without even dwelling on work experience. A solid summary is crucial for any resume, but it is even more vital for someone without much experience.
Step 2 – List skills or relevant coursework
You should list skills or coursework in short, clear bullet points. This allows you to create a section on your resume with keywords that can potentially match the job description.
Tom is applying for a business administrative position. Tom can pull many keywords from the job description and plug them into the skills section.
- Budget Management
- Analyze financial statements
- Product development
- Market research
- Proven problem solving and issue resolution skills
- Exceptional attention to detail
Most of the skills listed here were pulled from a job description. You can easily swap skills in and out for each position you apply for as long as you have some knowledge or background in those areas.
This section is also crucial to getting past the applicant tracking systems used by more than 90% of employers. More than 75% of resumes are deleted by these systems before a human even reads them. You can learn more about optimizing your resume here.
You can also include relevant coursework if you have any. This allows you to show that you’ve been educated in whatever field you’re going into.
For example, Tom can list:
- Business Management
- Marketing principles
- Basic accounting principles
- Business law
- Computer information systems
With the skills and relevant coursework section, you can take up a good amount of resume real estate with highly relevant and targeted information and keywords. This is especially useful for someone without much work experience.
Step 3 – Listing work experience
If you have an internship or some work experience that’s relevant – be sure to list it.
In Tom’s case, he has an internship that is relevant to any new business administrative position he might seek.
Here is an example of how Tom can write his experience section:
IDT Marketing Analyst Internship 11/2015 – 5/2016
- Researched and analyzed marketing trends in telecom.
- Analyzed and tracked a marketing budget of $500,000.
- Assisted marketing team of 15 with deploying new marketing campaigns.
- Utilized Excel to migrate and organize data from various sources.
- Contributed to the IDT internship program guide for 2016.
Even if your work experience isn’t really relevant to the position, you can pull out relevant skills from your past experience. It takes a bit of grind and hustle but you can do it!
For example – if you worked as an office assistant and are now trying to get a position as a program coordinator, your previous job almost certainly included some relevant skills that either match the job for which you’re applying or demonstrate leadership and work ethic.
Organizing data and customer leads in excel.
Tracking and implementing marketing campaigns.
Scheduling and coordinating meetings and events.
Step 4 – Interests and Activities
This section should include all extracurricular activities and interests that relate to the position you seek. This section is also very useful when you do not have much experience to work with.
So let’s say Tom was part of the university’s entrepreneur program, volunteered to organize food delivery to the city’s homeless population. and blogs about new business startups in the local area.
Tom can list this section as:
Interests and Activities
- Member of Queens College entrepreneur program
- Organized and managed routes for the meals-on-wheels non-profit which delivers food for the homeless and needy.
- Blogging on various new startups in the New York City area.
Okay, I know not everyone has relevant activities and interests and that’s just fine. If you need some more help coming up with some relevant activities or interests, check out this guide we published.
Step 5 – Don’t include unnecessary information on your resume
Many of those who don’t have a lot of work experience resort to placing unnecessary information on their resume. Unfortunately, that does more harm than good. The following should not be included on your resume:
- Objective statements – They are a thing of the past. Often, they are limiting and even more often they are perceived as stale and uninspired. You should replace objective statements with a summary section that concisely explains who you are, what you have done, and what you’re targeting. This section also helps you stand out from the crowd
- “References available upon request” – As with objective statements, a references section or the statement “references available upon request” is outdated. Irrespective of this statement, employers will ask for professional and personal references if that is part of their hiring process. Check out Forbes top ten resume red flags for more on this.
- Generic knowledge – Do not include generic knowledge such as “Microsoft Word”. This is a turnoff for many employers. If you are an expert in Microsoft Word and the rest of the Microsoft Office suite, then by all means specify as much. But simply listing one of them with no indication of proficiency is a no-no that is easily avoided. Also, please don’t list social media you’re familiar with using. I think your employer probably assumes that you can navigate around Facebook and Instagram!
We also wrote a great post on how to write a cover letter with little to no experience.
It can be a real challenge to write a resume when you don’t have much work experience, but it can be done! We hope this guide provided you with some much-needed direction.
And don’t forget that Zipjob offers resume writing services that guarantee more interviews. You can even get a free resume review here.
Thank you and good luck with your job search!