A lot of new job seekers want to know how do you write a resume with no experience? It may seem like a tricky task. How do you write about a career when you have no work history?
But the truth is, writing a resume with no experience isn’t much different than writing any other professional resume. Instead of relying on past experience to get a job, however, you have to sell your potential employer on giving you a chance to build your resume.
Why You Need a Resume
Make no mistake, today’s job market is competitive. There is also no such thing as a perfect resume. You can have a great resume, but get the idea of perfect out of your job search vocab.
Even if you are just starting out with zero work experience, you need a resume that communicates your value. It should highlight skills and accomplishments from your school days and volunteer work.
Think of it as an inventory of what you are good at, what you know and why you are the best person for the job. You should also highlight transferable skills — job skills that can be used in any industry. These include communication, collaboration and attention to detail.
No Resume, No Job Search
Twenty years ago, you could send in an application and if you got the interview, you had a pretty good chance of getting the job.
Before that, people would simply read the classified ads in the newspaper, call the telephone number listed and chat with the person and go in for the interview the next day. The interview was a formality. You would get an offer a few days later.
Those days are long gone.
Now the job search is much more complex. Competition for employment has never been greater. I have been on interviews only to be told that there would 4 interviews and I should feel lucky because 110 people applied. The entire process is often drawn-out, depersonalized and grueling. It’s like American Idol without the fame and Lionel Richie.
Oh and resumes are required. If you want a job, you have to have one.
A Resume is a Self-Marketing Tool
Resumes are not just part of the job search, they are actually marketing tools designed to sell you to potential employers. A strong resume is not a grocery list of your work experience or your biography.
It is a good marketing tool can persuade the intended audience to take a specific action. It’s a truly magical thing. It uses resume action words and concise language. Recruiters know in an instant if you are a qualified candidate.
If you need help writing a good resume you can hire a resume writing service. I compared costs in this post. Or you can use a resume builder (see the sidebar ad on this page) that will take your current resume and give it more umph. Note that thousands of other seekers are using the same resume templates. You still need to go through and make sure it represents your personality.
Writing a resume that will get you noticed and compelling the hiring manager to call you is no small task. It takes strategy, research and a dash of creativity.
What Companies are Looking for in College Grads
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2019 survey, employers said they most wanted to see written communication skills on college graduate resumes. Problem-solving skills and working as part of a team ranked high. Other attributes that employers want to see on resumes involve analytical/quantitative skills and a strong work ethic.
More than 80% of employers participating in the survey said they want to see resumes that indicate written communication skills. In the workplace, you will be doing a lot of writing, even if writing is not the focus of your job. You’ll be composing emails, memos, presentations, standard operating procedures, technical documents and work records.
Fluency in a foreign language, risk-taking and creativity were among the least popular items that employers wanted to see on a resume. See the full table of skills.
How to Write a Resume with No Experience
Here are methods and suggestions for writing a strong resume based on my experience as a marketing communications professional and helping clients on their Soul-based Job Search.
1. Sell Don’t Tell
Successful resumes need to sell you over and above other candidates. When you write a resume with no experience, you have another obstacle to overcome. But it is not impossible to get around. Companies want young college grads.
Let’s look at the different sections of the resume to see how you can use them to market yourself.
2. You’re a Novice, But Don’t Show It on Your Resume
Objective vs Summary of Qualifications
There are lots of opinions about whether or not to use an objective, or just how to use one. I advise people to go with a summary of qualifications or a summary statement instead. But an objective-ish approach could work for a college grad or someone who is entering the workforce after a break. Here are a few ways to write an objective.
- The old keyword headline trick — Buyer | Purchasing Manager | Procurement
- Mid-career intro — Experienced accountant seeks a position with a progressive organization that will utilize a successful career to meet/exceed company goals.
What you’ll notice in each of these is the benefit the company will receive if they hire the candidate. You do not tell them what you want. The thing about writing objectives is that they look the same as the ones on 78+ other resumes sitting on the hiring desk. Yawn.
You can write a resume with no experience that is strong and gets noticed.
The great communicators, relay information with the reader in mind. Imagine a person who is sifting through hundreds of applications. About half of them are qualified candidates.
Half of those have most of the skills the hiring manager is looking for. Now he or she has to read the resumes. You have to break through the clutter and bring some novelty to the table.
A summary of qualifications gives you more room to convey some personality and quantitative data. You have at least three bullet-points to state your case.
3. Don’t Tease About References
Do not put the statement References Available Upon Request. If the application or job description requires references, give them some. Prepare a separate references sheet and have it ready to submit with your resume and cover letter.
4. Avoid Overused Words
One of the most overused space fillers is the word responsible. The word oozes insecurity and is vague. Look at these two statements:
- Responsible for all departmental functions including accounts payable/receivable, payroll and invoicing.
- Perform all departmental functions, including accounts payable/receivable, payroll and invoicing.
Using My, I and Mine
Don’t write your resume in a narrative voice. This is not a blog or social media post. Keep yourself out of it. In an accomplishment statement Just start with the verb. Supervised a 20-person sales team that increased profits by a zillion dollars over 2018. Keep the tone business and void of a personal voice.
Use Numerals for Numbers
Unless you are submitting an academic resume or one where AP style is required, use numerals rather than spell out the number. Numerals catch the eye and save space. There’s no reason a resume with no experience has to look amateur.
5. Leverage Education When You Lack Experience
Your field of work and your experience or lack thereof will determine what comes first on your resume education or experience? Recent college grads should list education because it is the greatest achievement of their career so far. If you got a degree while working or have tons of experience, but added to your education, leave that section for the bottom. You are not an entry-level candidate.
You want to focus on what you learned in school and any applicable skills, certifications, coursework, and projects you may have done. Treat it with the same respect you would if you had been paid to do these tasks. What soft skills did you use? These are things like communications, collaboration, attention to details, work ethic and problem-solving.
Other Resume Resources
Writing a resume with no experience can be a challenge, but Soul-based Job Search has resources to apply for jobs like a pro.
Easy Peasey Resume and Cover Letter Checklist I created a checklist that you can use to make sure your resume is ready to go. The Resume and Cover Letter Checklist is free to download. It will remind you to check for typos, make sure it has the right headings, at least one bullet point per job and the resume format is attractive.
Check out the Simple Cover Letter Sample and Downloadable Template. Yes you have to write a cover letter too.
When it comes how to write a resume with no experience you are marketing yourself. You have to answer the question: Why should we hire you, especially when there are a bazillion resumes from equally qualified candidates? I hope this article helps you to create a resume that will get you the job that you want. Good luck and the beginning is the best place to start.