When job hunting for the first time, your work experience might be the smallest section on your resume. Don't panic. Most employers want you to have entry-level skills, but they don't expect you to reinvent the industry. Instead of feeling limited by your lack of traditional work experience, show employers you have the practical knowhow and work ethic to be productive and reliable from day one.
Write an Attention-Grabbing Summary
New job seekers tend to struggle with resume writing and they look at the stuffy, formulaic language on resume templates for guidance. Immediately stand out from the crowd with a well-written, personable summary that makes people eager to get to know you.
The summary should provide context for the rest of your resume. What is your field of study, and what activities enriched your skills outside the classroom? Make it obvious you use your time well, and briefly describe core interests or qualities that make you a good fit for the company. Write in first person with a friendly, natural voice to give the hiring manager a preview of your personality.
Highlight Your Training
As a recent grad, education is probably your greatest selling point. In this case, it's okay to list education and certifications before work experience. Reassure employers that you have the intelligence and training to succeed on the job, make good decisions under pressure and represent the company well. Include:
>The name of each school
>Your primary fields of study
>The dates you attended
>The degrees or certificates you earned
Leave out details about high school when you have a college degree, unless you completed a widely recognized career training program, such as allied health.
Prove Your Potential
Framing your activities the right way is the key to fleshing out a modest work history. List paid and unpaid work experience to give a well-rounded picture of your qualifications. Did you have summer jobs in high school or work study and internships in college? Do you routinely volunteer or complete unpaid work for a family business? What you achieved in these roles is more important than whether you were paid or had an official title.
Emphasize jobs in which you held a leadership role. You can write a brief one-line description about each employer or organization to help readers understand how your job fit into the big picture. Follow up with a short-bulleted list of your most notable achievements, projects or responsibilities to give employers a strong sense of how you think and perform. Always put the most relevant work experience in this section to keep hiring managers interested. If you have extra space on your resume, you can create another section for unrelated experience.
Summarize Skills and Awards
In today's digital atmosphere, good resume writing requires a smart use of keywords. Use the skills and awards sections to differentiate yourself from other candidates while reinforcing what the employer wants. For example:
>Proficient in SEO and social media marketing
>Multilingual with fluency in French, Portuguese and Spanish
Aim for a mix of hard and soft skills, tailoring your list to each job posting.
Look objectively at your school, church and recreational activities. Anything you do to build skills can be considered work experience. Gather references to back up your claims, so employers feel confident about hiring you.
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