Many of us know that writing a resume from scratch isn’t easy; however, add on top of that the fact that you’re fresh out of school with no work experience, and you may find the process even more challenging! If you have no work experience, how can you fill a page? The good news is that you’re not alone. It’s a common question, especially for those just starting their career. Here are some ways to beef up your resume if you have little to no formal work experience.
If you aren’t working with a lot of experience under your belt, the best thing to do is put your education at the top of the resume. If you have a degree higher than your high school diploma or GED, then we recommend leaving off your high school education entirely. It is assumed that if you have an Associate’s degree (or higher), you completed your high school education.
But doesn’t that limit the length and content? Not necessarily, says Parker’s Recruiting Manager, Kelli Whitecar. “You can add certain details to the education section of your resume to add polish. If your college GPA was 3.5 or better, add it! When you’re working with little to no professional experience, it’s acceptable to include GPA and academic-related achievements.”
Did you ever have a class with a large project-based component – like a thesis or capstone project? Include it! Those projects were specifically to give you a taste of what life is like in a career, and could be a great way to enhance your educational experience.
Another way you can beef up your resume with relevant experience is by adding extracurricular activities! Were you the treasurer of a club or organization in college? In many cases, that’s leadership, budget, and cash-handling experience that can easily be translated into the professional sector.
Were you part of a collegiate sports team? Kelli says it’s worth mentioning: “Collegiate sports team participation demonstrates drive, commitment, and team work. It may have a stronger influence on hiring managers than you would think.”
Did you take part in the student chapter of any professional organizations? For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has student chapters across the nation – including three in the Puget Sound area. Even if you were just a member, be sure to include that information on your resume, especially if its relevant to the industry you’re trying to break into. These memberships and extracurricular activities can help your resume stand out among your peers.
Did you work in your mom’s law office filing papers for her? That’s clerical experience! Were you a neighborhood babysitter? That’s childcare experience! Did you spend a summer bussing tables? That’s customer service and hospitality experience!
Even if you don’t think the jobs are relevant – they are. The key is in the way you write out those skills and responsibilities. Let’s use “babysitter” as an example. Use “Childcare provider” as the job title. It’s a much more professional way to display the job right off the bat. List out your responsibilities using keywords that translate well into the professional sector. Here are a few of our favorite bullet points to add to a resume, with ideas from Truity:
These bullet points can signal to a hiring manager that you take on new challenges and responsibility. You’re a trustworthy candidate with interpersonal / communication skills, who can create and keep to a schedule, and is eager to learn new, beneficial skills.