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Writing a Resume When You Have No Work Experience
It’s one thing to write a resume when you’ve been in the game for years and have plenty of experience that demonstrates your expertise, but when you’re just starting out, you may need to get a little more creative.
Aside from emphasising your education, you should also try to work out which transferable skills you may have gained during:
- 2Summer jobs
- 3Extracurricular activities
According to Deb Hornell
Business consultant, career coach, and founder and president of Hornell Partners.
Employers primarily want to know what differentiates you from other candidates, and you don’t necessarily need work experience to convey this.
“Reflect on the experiences you’ve had – internships, volunteer work, entrepreneur activities, awards and honours,” Hornell says.
“What have you learned about yourself? What sets you apart and how would you bring value to a potential employer? These descriptors can be woven into the resume, cover letter or email,” she explains.
“If applicable, include a thesis or dissertation title; GPA (especially if it’s high); and extracurricular activities like internships or roles which require you to apply and be selected, such as teaching assistant, resident hall assistant, or other paid work on campus.”
Forget about using an objective.
Use a “Summary of Qualifications” instead of an objective, and use strong, action verbs and adjectives that are important in your chosen field.
Some examples include things like: “patient-centred care”, “self-motivated, driven, willing to take on new challenges with creativity and enthusiasm;” “organised, compassionate, professional with strong work ethic.”
Don’t be generic
Make your resume a reflection of who you are. Let your personality come through. What feeling or message do you want to leave with potential employers?
Back up your resume with real-life examples
A savvy interviewer will ask you to elaborate on items you’ve listed on the resume. Practise speaking about “how” or “when” you’ve demonstrated the skills referenced on your resume, or why you were chosen for an award, or why you chose a particular major.
Keep it brief
Potential employers will not want to read a narrative or long-winded letter or resume. Be concise with both your resume and cover letter or email. Use bullet points and words that “pack a punch.”
Be strategic when distributing your resume
Figure out which companies and roles would be a good fit for you at this point in your career. Think about who you already know who could introduce you to a hiring manager or pass your resume along.
According to the HBS alumni association, 65-85% of jobs are secured through networking. Networks open the door. Once you’re in the door, you need to sell yourself and close the deal.