How to write an excellent resume if you have no or little experience.
Your resume can help you succeed!
Really stop and think, make notes, and with just a few hours work you will have a captivating resume that will stand out to prospective employers!
Look at the past:
What are your major accomplishments in school, jobs you did have, special projects, volunteer positions? You can list these in an "Accomplishments" section of your resume.
Were you ever trusted with something in a previous position (volunteer, school, family business, or previous job) i.e. keys, opening/closing, cash register, only employee in a store? Make sure to list these in the job/volunteer/school descriptions. They show that you are trustworthy.
Have you ever had your own business as a child or young adult (no matter how small, i.e. lawn mowing, babysitting, selling plants, cookie stand)? Add these in as jobs, word them to highlight that you started your own small business, and give the dates that you did it.
Did you help out with a family business or help your parents at work? Make sure to add this!
Did you do any internships in school?
Did you do any extra curricular activities that could translate into a business skill? Did you start or run a club?
Look at your skills and strengths in a business context:
What skills do you have that employers want to see?
Some ideas include: computer skills, programs, ability to learn new computer programs, typing, 10-key (take an online test to find out what your speed is), phone skills, are you good at helping customers, do you love to talk to people, finish big projects, are you focused, energetic, have excellent math, reading, or writing skills, good communication skills (written or verbal or both), the ability to work on multiple things at once?
Make a list of these and then write them out for a "Skills" section of your resume.
Training/Classes/Seminars: Think back to any education you have had that may be important to a prospective employer. Even if it was a 1 hour lecture or course. Make a list of these and add an "additional" training section to your resume. Examples include: Computer courses, classes on industry information (real estate, finance etc.), languages, customer service, etc.
Listing previous jobs:
Do not give a laundry list of the duties. Only list duties out on your resume if you are applying for a similar position, or if the duties were abnormal for that type of position. Only list duties that highlight if you were a trusted employee, had gradually increasing duties, or if they are an accomplishment or highlight your skills/experience in some way. i.e. you would not want to list opening mail, and sending faxes for an office assistant position, but you would want to list if you revamped the filing system, or were trusted with the bank deposits.
Make sure to put at least the month and year, job title, and company name for each. It looks very unprofessional to list just the year if you have only a few jobs.
If you have had very few jobs, you should list every position that you held, even if not for very long, but keep the descriptions brief.
List volunteer positions and internships: List these in chronological order with job listings, just add "volunteer" or "intern" to the job title.
Re-word it! Look at what you have left and look at how it is worded.
"Helped customers" becomes "provided excellent customer service"
"Worked in store alone" becomes "responsible for entire store operations during my shift"
"Answered phones" becomes "answered and routed all incoming calls on a busy 4 line phone system"
Careful with the Objective: (or take it out altogether) Make sure your objective highlights things about you that a future employer would want, and fits the position you are applying for. Also, if you are looking for employment in a certain area, or for only part time, temporary etc, make sure to list these. Examples include:
"To obtain a position in a small company where there is an opportunity to use my strong customer service skills, and an opportunity to learn about real estate." - this one highlights a skill, targets it to a small real estate company, and shows that you are eager to learn new skills.
"To obtain a long term position in a company that will be able to utilize my customer service and computer skills, and that has opportunities for growth and advancement." - this one highlights two skills, and would show that you are interested in career growth, and want to find a company to help build your career.
References: At the end of the resume say that references are available on request, and have a printed page ready to hand out. The rule is to list at least 3 business references and at least 1 personal reference.
If you do not have 3 past jobs, look for other types of business references. Past volunteer positions, school teachers, coworkers, neighbors, or other people that are not your friends and family that you know in other contexts.
Do not say you are a "quick learner." Almost everyone with very little experience adds this somewhere, and it is impossible to guess which people actually are. You can highlight your ability to pick up things quickly, by adding content specific sentences to your resume. (i.e. if you learn new computer programs quickly, add this after skills or computer skills, if you picked up or learned something else very quickly, highlight this in your resume.)
Do not have spelling/grammar mistakes. Use the spell check, read, reread, and have someone else read your resume until you are sure you have no mistakes. You can not say you have good communication skills, or good computer skills if your resume has errors on it.
Do not have inconsistent formatting. This will quickly show that your computer skills are not up to par, and more often than not the employer will not actually even read the resume if the formatting is inconsistent, has errors, or is hard to follow.
Do not list anything that is going to seem overly personal to someone that does not know you, and does not apply to the position.
Do not send the same cover letter for every position. Pay very close attention to the qualifications in the advertisement or job description. Make sure you address every one in your cover letter.
Do not send the same resume for every position. Look at the job description, research the company, and add and remove parts of your resume to highlight your major skills in context to the company and the job you are applying for. If you have too many skills listed, it will seem unrealistic and be tedious to read, if you have just a few, and they are targeted to the position you are applying for, you have a better chance at being the ideal candidate! At the very least change your objective to match the position. I can not tell you how many applicants I have not looked at twice just because their objective did not match the position I was hiring for.
Unless I get a totally overwhelming response, I will review anyone's resume and recommend changes, re-wording, additions, etc as long as they have already followed my advice here! Please let me know if you are willing to let me post the edited version (without your name) for other people to use for examples!
Second Article to come: Tips to building your resume before you have the experience!
Books on writing a great resume.
Other Related Hubs by Elizabeth C:
- How do you get the job to get the experience when you don’t have the experience to get the job?
An article with great resume building tips for before you have the experience to get the job you want.
- Virginia Tech Resume Page
This page has examples of skills based resumes, perfect if you have no experience or very little experience!
- Resume Writing by the Rockport Institute
A very long detailed description of how to make your resume stand out.
- Resume Advice at Yahoo HotJobs
- Basics of a Good Resume
This is a Hub Page that is a great pep talk about making sure you spend the time on your resume that it deserves.
- Targeted Cover Letter Information
This is an article about writing targeted cover letters, with samples.