How to Write a Resume When You Don’t Have Job Experience
Via Teen Vogue : How to Write a Resume When You Don’t Have Job Experience
Everyone starts somewhere.
Whether you’re looking to make some extra cash during the school year, or you’re fresh out of college and looking to land your first big gig, it can be tough to draft a standard one-page resume listing a host of work experience when you don’t have more than a few babysitting and tutoring gigs under your belt.
But you won’t be the only young professional at your cubicle getting a head start: As college tuition rises, students are comprising an increasingly larger margin of the workforce. According to a recent Georgetown University study, over 70 percent of students work part-time in tandem with their studies. But there’s a long-term incentive, too. The study also found that students who work in their fields early on tend to transition to higher managerial positions who earn higher wages than their non-working counterparts. Pretty sweet deal!
Let’s get you prepared to craft the perfect resume to help you land the perfect job.
Get into the right mindset.
Resume writing doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. Before you write, gain an extra shot of confidence by reflecting on your past accomplishments, be they academic or in various leadership roles. Did you make an awesome basketball team captain? Were you the editor-in-chief of the school’s yearbook?
Lead with skills you earned through volunteer work, significant school projects or other extracurricular activities, says Fred Goff, CEO of Jobcase.
Don’t be hard on yourself, either. Goff says “when you’re looking for a job as a teenager, employers are not expecting experience” in the traditional sense, at least. They’re interested in qualities like responsibility, integrity, a get-stuff-done attitude, smarts, and care. “The job of the resume is to convey this with whatever you can,” he says.
Play up your references.
Teachers, volunteer organizers, even character references from friends and family are your best assets. While you may not have had a ton of professional experience, you have had the opportunity to connect and leave an impression on others. Leverage that, Goff says. Instead of listing “references available upon request,” include their contact directly. Got a professor who corrected some of your stellar research papers? Include their testimonial up top. It helps to deviate away from a template resume as a whole and instead list what makes you a strong candidate. Even that 4.0 GPA.
Translate your experience.
Don’t worry if you don’t fit the job posting criteria perfectly. Goff says “if an employer needs multi-tasking capabilities, don’t be afraid to talk about a heavy course load, helping with siblings at home, and being active in an outside group as proof at how proficient you are with this skill set.” You don’t necessarily need direct experience to land the job — just a willingness to prove you’re the right candidate based on your unique skill set.
Look outside the resume.
Employers evaluate candidates on far more than just a piece of paper. Think about your approach holistically. The purpose of a resume is not to get the job, but to get the meeting or interview about the job, says Goff. Your interactions with the hiring manager are far more crucial at this stage.
“Be interesting and show information that suggests you’ll be a great hire. Beyond just submitting your resume, show polite persistence and eagerness in your follow-ups to ensure you can get a meeting where you can further prove your qualifications,” he says.
Separate yourself from the stack.
This doesn’t only mean handing in your resume in a box of donuts, but avoiding terms that are outdated, overused, and meaningless. This year, LinkedIn released a list of 10 buzzwords that crop up most frequently on professional profiles. “Specialized” topped the list, followed by leadership, passionate and strategic (see the full list here). Translation: Don’t resort to fancy words you’ve seen on other resume templates, and capture your work experience in a way that is unique to you.
Be aware of your digital presence.
You already know to leave the hardcore partying shots off your social media accounts when you’re looking for a job. Take that a step further by crafting a professional and clear LinkedIn profile outlining your professional goals and academic experience. Avoid the low-light selfies and ask a friend with a professional camera (or sweet iPhone skills) to take a clear headshot of you. Goff says this shows you’ll be able to properly represent their company.
Edit, edit, then edit again.
Make sure you double-check typos. Your resume is your first opportunity to show you care and that you’re meticulous about accuracy — even if the content is sparse, Goff says. Get a trusted friend or parent to take a look, too.
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