Resume writing is one of those tasks that should get easier with time. As you build up your work experience, you have more examples of the skills, duties, and achievements you have earned during your time in employment. But when you have zero work experience, getting started can be tough.
What exactly do you write about on your resume when you have no work experience?
For first-timers who are about to embark on the process of applying for jobs; proving suitability for a role without real-world experience poses a challenge. Not least of all because the majority of recruiters will use an applicant’s work history as a tool for predicting their future job performance.
In the following sections, we talk about some of the different things you do to help your resume stand-out when you have no work experience to list.
#1 Summary Statement
The majority of all resumes now demand a personal summary statement of some sort. It is best placed at the top of your resume, directly below your name and personal contact information. It needs to be no more than between two and three sentences in total and should simply serve to provide a quick overview of your background, your personal interests, and your abilities.
Because you are writing a resume with no work experience, your professional summary can outline your attitude, your work ethics, education levels, any relevant skills, and any of your personal interests or things you feel passionate about.
As a final note in this section, you should be tailoring your summary statement for each job you apply to. Your resume could be the 50th the recruiter has looked at today, so you need to make it easy for them to see why they should shortlist you for the role.
Sample Summary Statement
Detail-driven, analytical, aspiring Data Analyst, possessing a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Mathematically minded, as supported by advanced studies in statistics and mathematics. Extremely interested in pursuing and obtaining an entry-level post within the Data Analysis field.
#2 Key Skills and Experiences
So, we’ve already established you have no work experience. However, that does not mean there aren’t any other relevant experiences you have had, which can be discussed here.
Following on from your professional summary, you need to write a list of the skills you possess which are relevant to the position you are applying for. As with your summary statement, you should tailor these skills to match those which are outlined in the job description. If there aren’t many listed on the job description you have in front of you; do a little research online for other similar positions and review those which are matched with your own skillset.
While you might not have used these skills in a professional setting, you could still have demonstrated them during your studies or in your personal life.
Time management, public speaking, organization, professionalism, leadership, team working, independent working, communications, data entry; these are just a couple of examples.
#3 Achievements and Education
The next section you want to focus on is your academic achievements and educational background. Aside from the qualifications or certifications, you have already obtained, you can also outline anything else you might be currently working towards.
For every qualification or achievement, you need to list the establishment, the name of the accreditation, the area of study, along with the start and end dates. Any honors or awards earned, whether extra-curricular or not should also be listed here.
If you have self-studied or taken online courses outside of an official educational establishment, you need to list these here! Even if the courses were free! These can really help you to stand out, especially if they are linked to the field in which you are pursuing a new role.
#4 Specific (Relevant) Projects
When you have little or no job experience, this section on your resume can be of particular interest to a potential employee or recruiter. Here, you need to consider both personal and academic projects that you undertook which may be relevant to the job.
By relevant, this could simply mean they are an example of a time where you needed to demonstrate one of the key skills that are detailed in the job description.
For instance, if the job you are applying for requires leadership and team working skills; and you volunteer at the local youth club on a regular basis, or perhaps you started and/or led a study group in college; both of these ‘projects’ demonstrate you have experience in one of the areas the employer will be interested in.
Or, you worked in college on a long-term study where you needed to perform deep data analysis and then had to present your findings to a larger group; this academic project would be relevant to mention if public speaking, communication, or data entry/analysis was required in the job.
With these two examples, you get a good idea for the type of project work you can list in this section to help beef-up your resume when you have little or no work experience to speak of.
#5 Accomplishments, Awards, and Personal Achievements
This section is simply a showcase of the achievements and awards you have received over the years. It doesn’t matter whether these are personal, sports, hobby, or education-related awards; they all count!
What’s important, is that you include as much information as possible; and that you also list where you obtained the specific award, the date you received it, and a brief description of what you did to get the award or achievement.
#6 Hobbies, Extra-Curricular Activities, Volunteer Work, and Club Memberships
This section shouldn’t be too long; but if you are passionate about a personal interest, you play a musical instrument, are a member of a club, or you regularly take on extra-curricular activities past or present; you can list them here.
Even something as simple as babysitting has a place in this section as it demonstrates responsibility, trust, and compassion.
Other Useful Resume Tips for Newbies!
Aside from the content of your resume, there are a few other things you can do to help make it easier for any potential employer to find the information they need more easily, and to grab their attention, helping you stand out from other applicants.
Having a clear, easy to read resume is essential. You have to always consider that your resume could be there 50th that they have seen that day or that week.
How long should a resume be?
If possible, you need to try and keep all the information on a single page. This is much easier to do when you have no work experience to list. Make sure you include enough information to fill the whole space.
Make sure you clearly separate each section and format then using an underlined header in bold. This can really help a potential recruiter find the information they need quickly.
What style of font should I use?
Use 12pt for the section headers, and for the body, use 11pt. Using a traditional font style, such as Times New Roman or Arial is best. The key is to be consistent. Don’t try to over complicate things with fancy colors; use no more than two colors and try to keep them fairly professional.
How Recruitment Automation Software Impacts your Application
In the first stages of job applications, some companies will use automation to filter out candidates based on the information that they have included in their resume. This is particularly important for the skills section. Applications are reviewed, filtered, ranked, and sent to a hiring manager for review. If you do not include the right skills on your resume, such as those listed on their description, this could result in an automatic rejection!
So, pay attention to the details, make sure you include relevant skills, and always tailor your personal statement summary and skills to match those of the role you are applying for!
As you can see, there are lots of ways you can still create a winning resume without having any work experience in detail. While it might seem like additional work; tailoring the content of your resume for each of the jobs you apply for can make a real difference. The easier you make things for the recruiter or employer; the better chances you have of being called or seen for an interview!
A final tip; if you are unsuccessful following an application, always try to find out why! We all know that rejection can be tough, but the feedback you get could help you get closer to landing that dream job!