How To Write A Resume With No Experience
Are you a college student, high school student, or a recent graduate looking to start your career, but not sure how to write a resume with no experience? If yes, this article is for you. In this article, making your resume more appealing to the recruiter is what we’ll do. You will learn step-by-step how to write the different sections of a resume along with filling in the work experience when you have little or no work experience.
Before you dive into the different sections, let’s see how resume writing has changed and how you should structure it, so you have the greatest chance of having your resume read and then contacted!
How Resumes Have Changed Over The Years
Resumes have drastically changed over the years. In the past, you used to hand deliver or mail your resume to a company that had an opening or a company of interest. Human resources would receive these resumes and read them. Times have changed. Now the majority of resumes are submitted virtually in a PDF or Word format, sent via email to recruiters and companies. It has become so easy to send a resume that recruiters get flooded with several hundred to thousands of resumes for a single position. This in turn has made it next to impossible for recruiters to carefully review your resume. On average, a resume gets about a 6-second look. If it’s interesting, it will be saved; if not, well, you know the answer.
To make matters worse, or better said, more challenging for you, the candidate, companies are now using technology to scan your resumes. These are called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). When you submit a resume, the ATS works as a gatekeeper and is binary: Yes, it passes, no, it doesn’t. On average, 75% of all resumes submitted to a position will never be seen by a recruiter because they did not pass the ATS. In this article, resume for college students, you will see how to format and write each section, so it will best be viewed by the ATS and have a higher likelihood of being seen by a real human being.
How To Write The Heading In A Resume With Little or No Experience?
The heading of a resume for any professional, whether executive, high school student, college student or even a resume with no experience will always consist of your name, contact info such as email address, and phone number, along with some possible additions such as your address and social media links. These are the main things that you can find in a header.
Name: Write out your full name. This will be in large font and be very apparent at the top of the resume.
Email address: This is one you need to watch out for. It is time to get rid of that old email address that you had as a kid. I remember mine was FreshPrince111@Hotmail.com. For your resume, use something professional. You can use your initials and then your last name or a combination like: PChesney@Gmail.com or Philip.Chesney@Yahoo.com. Create a variation that is close to your name. You may need to add a number or two because that email may not be available. It could be Philip.Chesney1985@Gmail.com . You get the point.
Phone Number: Always add your area code. If you consider sending your resume for jobs or even internships abroad, make sure to add a +1 before your phone number (if you are from the USA) to let the other person know it is a US number. The number would look like +1 (518) 346 – 2230.
Address: Most resumes will have an area for your address. Most people do add this, but some don’t. The reason for not adding it is because some recruiters may not want a candidate from out of town. Professionally speaking, it is much better to get your foot in the door and prove that you are a great candidate, instead of being dis-considered because you are not in that region. In many cases, you may be willing relocate for the right position. Choose what you feel is best.
Skype ID: Since a lot of interviews take place over Skype, it is a good idea to add your Skype ID to facilitate future communication. Once again, try to use your name as the Skype ID and not something that might be perceived as childish or unprofessional. PhilipC1985 would be fine.
Click here for more tips and how to prepare for a Skype Interview
Social Media: Many sites will leave a field for you to add your social media links when you apply for a job; you can also have them on your resume. It is best to include a Linkedin link. If you choose to add Facebook, make sure you have cleaned up your profile and any pictures that may tarnish your professional image.
How to write a resume with no experience tips: From the sections above, definitely make sure to clean up social media and create a professional email address. Don’t risk it!
A summary or professional objective on any resume, is used to convey what you want to do, what you are looking for, or even to highlight your top accomplishments. I know I mentioned top accomplishments here and I know you are learning how to write a resume with no experience, so you’ll learn what do add here in that case. Summary/ professional objective, or statements can help create more relevance to your resume and be a nice addition.
Let’s say that you mentioned that you are a college student skilled in ABC, etc. If later on in your resume you demonstrate your knowledge of ABC (at a former job you held or at a volunteer position, or even at school), the ATS understands your summary/objective to be more relevant with this experience. In other words, this is good news! Also, if this is a skill that the job description requires, you will rank higher because it has been mentioned in a few different areas on your resume and in different ways. Therefore, a summary/objective can actually be helpful. If you write one, write a great one.
Bad example: A determined person looking for a great career.
This was not very inspiring and very bland – too general.
Good example: Passionate marketing and business student that is looking to put her/his knowledge into practice and start career in the marketing department.
Much better and it tells more about you and what you are looking for.
More Example Statements and Professional Objectives:
- Land a position that will effectively use my skills and education and the opportunity to work with a great team and continue learning.
- I aspire to hone my skills, put my education to use, and grow both personally and professionally in a great company.
- An enthusiastic graduate with a go-getter attitude and strong communication skills. I am ready to put my academic knowledge and extracurricular experience to the test and help grow the company.
- Looking to land an entry-level position that will give me the opportunity to put my leadership, teamwork, and education experience into practice.
This is one of the key sections on a resume for someone who has little or no experience on their CV. In this case, you are going to need to put the spotlight on your profile with your educational achievements and experience.
Start by adding the name of the school where you studied/ are studying, degree focus/major, start date and end date or presumed end date, followed by awards, certifications, your GPA if it was high, and any special projects you took part in.
Bachelor’s in international Relations 2014 – 2018
University of Albany
- Graduated with a 3.9 GPA
- Started an exchange student department and helped host 11 exchange students.
- Participated and later led the debate team.
If you notice in the example above, you presented your course, the dates you studied at the particular school, along with your accomplishments. That is a great start. Always look for things you have done, led, organized, or participated in that could make a nice addition to this section.
More examples to highlight your educational experience:
- Honor roll or GPA award etc
- Rank in school – Top 5% of school
- Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar
- Foreign language award
- School specific award
- Led (specific) group
Work Experience? What Work Experience? – What To Put If You Don’t Have Any?
Yes, now to the main aspect of how to write a resume with no experience. There are a couple of things you can do to approach this section.
First approach: when you structure your resume, you leave out the work experience section altogether. If you decide to do this, MAKE SURE you have taken the time to highlight your educational skills, awards, recognitions, etc. and your other extracurricular activities. If you do not do this, your resume won’t have much weight behind it and probably won’t compete well with others.
Second approach: Consider listing informal jobs that you’ve had or have. Informal jobs have certain transferable skills and can elicit your skills to the recruiter.
Informal example: suppose you worked doing lawn-care for a few clients. You could mention how you always aimed to give great customer service and impress the client with your quality of work and work ethic e.g. calling to confirm an appointment. You could also mention how you were able to get new clients from word of mouth marketing.
May 2019 – Present
- Currently take care of 4 neighbors’ lawns each 2X per month.
- Constantly aim to deliver a high-quality service and push for word of mouth recommendations. Acquired 2 new customers from my current clientele.
Third approach: Label certain volunteer experiences as work experience. Here’s the catch, if you decide to take the third approach, make sure to select volunteer experiences that are RELEVANT to the job/position you are applying. In other words, say you are going for an entry-level position e.g. an Entry Level Marketer and you’ve worked as a volunteer in the marketing domain. This particular volunteer experience would be relevant to include as work experience as it is similar to what you are pursuing.
A Volunteer Experience To Use As Work Experience
Jr Marketer – Company ABC
- Held a volunteer position as a JR Marketer for company ABC.
- Helped answer incoming social media inquiries on Facebook and Twitter pages.
- Assisted in writing How-to blog articles for the company and have additional social media content to share.
- Co-wrote Youtube how-to video Scripts for the company. The Youtube channel has helped create 130+ new leads and generate 51 new paying customers.
- Worked with a marketing team of 15+ members to help produce creating and engaging content.
How To Quantify Your Experience?
Although you might not have had a formal job, your volunteer or informal experiences can be quantified. Let’s look at some questions you can ask yourself to see if you can quantify your experience and add it to your work experience section:
- Were you able to improve your departments ranking in comparison to others?
- Did any of your actions/ideas help make the company more money? How/Why?
- Did any of your ideas/actions help the company grow?
- Did you have any ideas or ways to cut costs and save the department or company money?
- Did you meet your goals? Did you go above and beyond?
- Did you find ways to increase job efficiency or improve company processes?
Whenever possible, use real numbers in your work experience. Show how you brought the company results.
The skills section on a CV with little or no experience is a place to show your knowledge in certain areas. Just like the education section earlier in the article, this is another section that you MUST emphasize. Besides labeling your general skills, focus on mirroring the job description. In other words, match your skills in your resume to what the job description is requesting. Remember how we talked about the ATS in the beginning, the more your skills and CV match the description, the higher likelihood it will get a Yes and then be viewed by a human being.
For skills, focus on things like language fluency, computer skills, knowledge of different software, and other technical skills you have. Next to each item you list, mention your knowledge level of it. For instance, if you put down Spanish, add a hyphen and then e.g. fluent or proficient etc. Let’s look at a few more to make it stick.
Remember, for each resume you submit, it is best to tweak your skills section to fit the job description. If you have the desired skills, tweak them to better match the job description. This will increase your chances of getting past the ATS, having your resume read by a recruiter, and getting your foot in the door for an interview.
Do not forget the volunteer experience section on your resume. I know we talked about this earlier in the article, but that section was to use specific volunteer experiences as Work Experience. This section is for more generic volunteer experiences.
Volunteer experience or taking on specific roles can demonstrate your skills, dedication, and help convey why you are the right person for the job. Additionally, volunteer experience can be a great ice-breaker as the interviewer might be interested in your experience, want to learn more, or may even be part of the organization. Hey, you never know. It is a great way to establish rapport!
As mentioned previously, some of your volunteer experiences may be a good fit for the work experience section. Divide your experiences accordingly. Experiences that are relevant (have similar job descriptions, desired skills, or tasks) to your volunteer experience might be good to add.
For different volunteer experiences with no relationship, keep them in your volunteer section.
This section is optional but can be a great way to showcase your skills, “trophies”, and can be great conversation starters. You might mention sports achievements, stellar grades, or other things you deem relevant.
Other Possible Achievements to list:
- Grants or scholarships received
- School related awards
- Awards from a volunteer position
- MVP in a sport
- Most improved Player award in a sport
- Or other achievements that you deem relevant and you believe would help distinguish you from other candidates.
The extras section is totally optional. If you choose to add it, you could add things like, hobbies, interests, publications, projects you have worked on, community activities, etc. A few examples below:
- Boxing Coach 2015-Present
- Blogger and Vlogger for exercise industry 2018-Present
- Language learning: Portuguese and Arabic
Although the extras section may not be the dealmaker to get you hired, it will, however, demonstrate that you are active and like to learn etc. If your hobbies or extras are related to the job or have transferable skills, all the better.
Complete Resume Look And Feelhow-to-write-a-Resume-with-no-Experience
General Tips On How To Write A Resume With No Experience
- Your resume should be 1-2 pages long. No sending a 7-page resume! No one reads these.
- Focus on your Skills and Education – Mirror the job description with these.
- Use PDF or Word format. More importantly, when you submit your resume on a site, check to see what file types they accept. Often their ATS can only read a certain type of file. Always have both formats ready.
- Always customize your resume. Match your resume to the job description. Just don’t BS though. Make sure you do have those skills when you do this.
- No need for references on the resume. In many cases, the company will request references in a specific field on the application or will ask for them afterward. You can then furnish them.
- Be careful with formatting. Do not use borders or tables as the ATS cannot read these. Go for bullet points as they can help organize the information and can be read by the ATS.
- Name your resume: Philip Chesney – Resume
Download the template from this article
How to write a resume for high school students
How To Prepare For A Skype Interview
How to write a resume for college students
Whether you are in high school, college, a recent grad or someone who has not had any work experience, you are going to need a resume. More importantly, you are going to have to prove to the recruiter that you are the right candidate for the position.
Don’t worry if you do not have much experience. Put the spotlight on your academic, volunteer work, skills, and other interests of yours. Show who you are and why you are the right person for the job. Remember, although it is nice to have previous work experience to put on your resume, it isn’t always a must. Employers are willing and expect to train you. Showing your willingness and eagerness to learn and grow is one of the best things you can do in an interview.
Lastly, don’t forget to prepare for your interview!
For high school resume writing, check out the article on Resumes for High School Students.
For college student resume writing tips, check out College Resume Examples.
I wish you success on your career journey!
For more articles on job search and interview tips, check out the CareerPrep blog and for how-to videos on interview tips, check out the EnglishInterviews and CareerPrep Youtube channels.
This is a great article to reference to successful write and promote your talent.
Thanks for commenting Eugenia. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.