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How to write a resume for a job with no experience

No experience resume – necessary yet tricky

The most difficult part of the entire career growth trajectory is the process of preparing for your first-ever resume. It is understood that a good career path requires a perfect start. This situation is mostly confronted by students for their first job. The tricky situation raised in this case is that there is no possibility of someone dodging this situation. Hence, all job seekers need to be better prepared to present a resume with no experience. 

The catch 22 situation here is that you need the experience to get a job and at the same time job to get experience too. But the situation should not create unnecessary panic. Crafting your first resume may not always require industry-standard experience and skillsets. But you must prepare well and develop a strategy to craft a resume that convinces the hiring official. 

Principles to apply in your first resume

❏   Concise resume

This is the most basic principle you have to keep in mind while you prepare your first resume. No hiring official will spend more than a stipulated time to look in detail at what you have written in your resume. Hence, the idea is to have maximum impact in short words. Always keep in mind the fact that the more you stretch, the less impact it will have. It is not wise to believe that a long resume is a powerful resume. 

The intention is to make it easy for the recruiter to understand the points you propose. 

❏   Reflection of your confidence

Your prospective employer will be interested in knowing if you are proud of your achievements and if you are confident in sharing those. It is important, therefore, to use language which expresses your confidence and makes your case stronger. 

In other words, you have to choose wisely among the achievements and certifications you have. It is better to provide those which you think will bring an edge for you over other candidates. Your confidence level can also be expressed by mentioning those skills and training you have undertaken which are relevant to the job position you are applying for.

❏   False proof resume

Grammatical mistakes and typing errors are the last things you want in your resume. It is bound to make mistakes but submitting a resume with the mistake is your own choice. You need to pull off ample proofreading to review all the typing mistakes, grammatical errors, and inconsistencies in sentences. 

Depending on the circumstances, you can seek help from your close friend or a mentor to look into the document before you submit it to the hiring official. It is suggested that you take maximum reviews and correct the mistakes pointed out by your friends and mentors. 

❏   Do not stretch the truth.

As a job seeker, you must overcome all your temptation to stretch truth or lie. This may bring your short-term benefits, but in the long term, this can seriously affect your career growth and prospects. 

The consequences of stretching the truth can have two effects. On the one hand, even if you make it to the job, you may find it difficult to deliver what is demanded of you. The impression the employer had about you will be changed. On the other hand, there are chances that you will be caught later and your contract being terminated. 

❏   No to padding

Understanding the necessary components that are to be put in a resume is equally important as avoiding those components which are unnecessary. You may be tempted to flex your certifications, hobbies, or other skills which are unrelated to the requirements of the job position you are applying for. 

Unnecessary information can be related to your contact details or even stating the possibilities of providing references upon request. 

What to include in a resume with no experience?  

❖   Resume format

Deciding on the resume format is the preliminary step in the preparation of your resume with no experience. The decision for the same has to be made among a pool of options, namely, chronological, functional, or hybrid. 

The varieties are self-explanatory. A chronological resume explains relevant details of the candidate in reverse chronological order. Usually, this is done for work experience. The functional resume puts its focus on the certifications, skill sets, and achievements of the candidate. There is a clear preference for the above concerning work experience. A hybrid resume, on the other hand, is a mixture of both a chronological resume and a functional resume. 

The decision for a job seeker is tricky here. For a job seeker with no experience, a functional resume seems attractive prima-facie, but it is to be kept in mind that most hiring officials prefer a chronological resume. A balance needs to be struck here, and it is to be kept in mind not to go to the extremes, that is, pursuing a completely chronological resume but with no experience. 

Another important thing is that the template you are using to prepare your resume with no experience should be consistent throughout. There should not be any discrepancy here as it will cost you dearly, projecting you as an underprepared and not-so-planned candidate. 

❖   Resume header

Receive header can be an attractive inclusion to a no experience fresher resume. The resume header is constituted by two components. These are your contact information and your resume statement. The contact information part is inclusive of all necessary and valid contact details, including your email address, phone number, location, and LinkedIn ID. You don’t have to explain the section rather, and you can be on point. This is one of the easiest parts of your resume, and all information for the session is handy. You have to be cautioned regarding your email address as it is required to sound professional. 

Alongside, ensure that there is no typing mistake in your contact details because the existence of one can make the entire process futile. 

A resume statement is the crux of your aspirations. It describes the professional approach and career trajectory that you seek. A resume statement is crucial because no hiring official will spend enough time reading all the content you provide in your resume. In this situation, a resume statement plays a crucial role in determining your prospects in the selection process. You must understand the structure of a resume statement so that you can give your best. The primary objective of a resume statement is to catch the attention of the hiring official. 

An ideal resume statement must include the following components. It must include your field of study along with the training, experience, and skillsets you possess. The rationale of your resume should also find a place in this section. That means the reason behind your application for this particular job position needs to be hinted at here.

Samples:

1: 

Recent Economics graduate aspiring for the position of an assistant economic advisor at (insert company name here). Extremely punctual and self-motivated individual with great writing skills and critical thinking. Personal experience in economic modeling and problem solving gained through various college-level responsibilities under the banner of the Economic Society. Profound multitasking abilities polished through team leadership and cooperative working. Actively interested in learning ideas in depth and their application in the real world”

2:

HIghly self-motivated ready to adapt commerce graduate from (insert college name here) looks for opportunities at the assistant accountant levels at (insert company name here). Undertook multidisciplinary courses in management and problem-solving in addition to the high-performing commerce degree. Analytical talents demonstrated through successful inter-college mathematical competitions and societal leaderships“.

The WRONG way to write one:

“I am a fresh graduate from Delhi University desperately looking for an opening. I would like to join your organization as an assistant accountant to get real experience. I am a very motivated student eager to learn more and to be financially independent.

❖   Technical perfection

Technical perfection is an essential prerequisite for your resume. Needless to say, your resume must sound very professional. To achieve a desired level of professionalism, any mistakes concerning punctuation, spelling, or grammar cannot be tolerated. The effort you put into achieving technical perfection will reap benefits for sure. On the flip side, a resume with technical imperfections will be the first one to be more out of the shortlist. 

You can rely on the help of your family members or friends to avoid any sort of such technical imperfections. Active and enthusiastic proofreading can help you in this situation. Alongside, you must choose words wisely and make complete use of your vocabulary to seek the attention of the hiring official. One pro tip in the situation is that you can put into effective use action verbs as it holds enough potential to keep the reader engaged. 

❖   Non-work experiences 

The most important challenge in preparing a resume with no experience to find enough content that can increase your chances of selection. The only advantage a fresher has in this situation is that the hiring official is also aware of the situation. Hence, they may look for something extra other than work experience. It is therefore important that you think wisely and prepare strategically to include your non-work experiences. 

Non-work experiences can include other life experiences in your school life or internships, educational background, and skills that are relevant to the field of application. You mustn’t leave any of these components behind and prioritize according to the expectations of the hiring official. Organizational skills and communication skills hence become a necessity. Your academic performance can be channelized to increase your leadership and research abilities. 

❖   Education in the front seat

The most important thing that can nullify the effect of not having work experience is your education. The education section can replace the work experience. There are many things you can include in the section. These are the name of your degree along with the institution, yes attended location of the institution, and the score you gained. You may also include other course-related projects and works undertaken along with relevant exchange programs you were part of. You should keep in mind that the score is an optional field. 

Samples:

BSc in Computer Science (insert your degree qualification here)

Delhi University (insert you University here)

Arihant Desai Campus (insert the location here)

07/2015 – 05/2018 (insert the period here)

5.49 GPA (insert your score here)

Exchange Program in Soka University, Japan (other relevant details)

❖   Skills relevant to the field of application

This section of your resume has to be custom prepared. The background details necessary for the preparation of the skills section is a job advertisement that the prospective company provided. Your primary objective is to present your skills in such a way that the hiring official can draw direct links with the requirements of the job position you have applied for. You must understand the weightage that the skill section holds. A well-crafted skills section in your resume will increase the chance of you landing up in the next stage of the selection process. 

There needs to be a balance struck between technical skills and soft skills depending upon the various determining factors. This includes the nature of the job, your confidence level in each section, and the success rate of answering follow-up questions regarding the same. For example, soft skills like communication and interpersonal skills are relevant for all job fields irrespective of their domain. It is important to note that such soft skills are valued by hiring officials too. On the flip side, the absence of the same may confuse the hiring official. Examples of such highly rewarding soft skills are leadership qualities, team working abilities, rational thought, critical thinking, assertiveness, and a positive approach. 

On top of technical skills and soft skills, you may include language skills which may be of great interest to the hiring officials regarding the job location. 

Samples:

●    Leadership – Budgeting, Team spirit, Resource allocation, Project evaluation

●    MS Office

●    Languages – English, Malayalam, Hindi (basic proficiency) 

●    Professionalism – Professional communication, Office management 

●    Analytical proficiency 

●    Presentation skills

●    Quick learning

●    Interpersonal skills

●    Creative thinking skills

●    Strong work ethics

●    Proactive attitude

❖   Precision formatting

Apart from the resume formatting techniques discussed above, certain things are to be kept in mind before presenting your final resume with no work experience. Before going in length about those, you must understand the primary objective of this resume is to grab the attention of the hiring manager to the most marketable skills and most relevant experiences you have. If you are successful in highlighting this and presenting your resume in an easy-to-read manner, your job is half done.

The following are a few tips that will equip you to attain this. 

Left align your text is very basic and necessary. If by accident, any of your text in the resume aligns to the center, it will leave a bad impression about the efforts you have put in drafting the resume. Left align your text makes it easy for the reader also. 

The circumstance of this resume is that you do not possess any work experience. In this situation, you should try considering to title the section as “relevant experience” rather than “work experience”. There are two advantages for the same. This will help you to deviate from the trouble of presenting your resume without work experience. As well as, this title gives enough room for you to include your extracurricular activities, training, and volunteering works. 

A choice asked to be made regarding the selection of numbers in your resume. Focusing on the idea of a most readable resume, you should write 74% instead of seventy-four percent. 

❖   Custom made resume 

Targeting your resume is the mantra you need to apply when you do not have work experience to mention. Depending on the specific job requirements put forward by the company, you can adjust the priorities in your resume to increase your chances of getting through.

It is wise to expect that the companies look actively for the keywords in your resume. Hence, you must give importance to those domains and skillsets preferred by the company. In the preliminary screening process of resumes, the chances of getting shortlisted mostly depend on the way you craft your resume. Coupled with this, one cannot expect that the hiring manager goes in-depth in each of the resumes in the process of shortlisting. 

Custom-prepared personalized resume is decisive in this case. This is the sole way through which you can outrun those resumes with work experience. 

❖   Optional sections

You must take the positives out of your situation where you have no work experience to exhibit. The advantage you possess in this situation is that you have ample space in your resume to include many optional sections relevant to the job application. The purpose of such an inclusion is that you can present the multi-talented and gifted personality you are. 

One such section is about languages. Many companies in their new openings prefer multilingual candidates. As the significance of intercompany collaborations increases along with an extra-national approach, companies may appreciate your skills in an extra language. On the flip side, you should remember that showing extra confidence in language skills may backfire if you are not skilled enough. 

Certifications from online courses or short-term university programs may help you through—relevance of the section increases depending upon the requirements of the job opening that the company offers. Presenting unrelated online courses in your resume may give an impression that you lack enough points to validate your candidature. Your academic performance can also find a space here as optional papers from your graduate programs are equally good as skill certifications. 

Your solid passion and interest can be presented successfully through the hobbies section. But it is to be kept in mind that overstretching the section will reduce the interest that the reader has in your resume as their primary objective is not to look deep into this section alone.

Samples:

Hobbies

–      Basketball

–      Gardening

Certifications

–      Leadership 101, UnacademyXYZ

–      Social networking basics – CourseraXYZ

–      Organisational skills – UdemyXYZ

Cover letter for extra impact

Submitting a cover letter along with your resume with no work experience will increase your chances of being successful in the selection process. The importance of a cover letter is high because the lack of work experience in a resume makes it professionally less compelling. 

There are various aspects of the cover letter that you have to keep in mind while you draft one. You can make your cover letter an impactful one if you follow the following tips. 

❖ You must do a good background analysis to understand how a cover letter can be a professionally perfect one. You can put this into effective use by considering all aspects of a professional cover letter and including the same in your cover letter. This is inclusive of all basic professional formatting rules.

❖ The introduction part of the cover letter is the most important section as it is decisive in determining the continued interest of the reader. Your introduction has to be a catchy one that softly pressurizes your reader and encourages them to complete it. 

❖ The argumentative part of your cover letter should ideally include old skills relevant to the job application and must argue why you are a perfect fit for the job position. The multitude of ways in which you can potentially contribute to achieving the goals of the company should also find its space. Explaining those factors which enable you to be a perfect cultural fit for the company should also be mentioned. 

❖ Your cover letter should end in a positive note calling for action. It is essential that you ensure your cover letter is of the right length, as an unnecessarily lengthy cover letter may hinder your chances of getting through to the next stage of the selection process. 

The pro tip in the situation is to remember that the intention of a cover letter is not to reiterate what you have already mentioned in your resume. It should aim to fill the gaps in your resume and explain why you are a perfect fit for the job even though you lack work experience. 

Further queries in education

Since the education section in your resume is very important, there may be a few queries related to the inclusion of it. 

  • How important is your score?

Even if it is known that most hiring officials do not trust too much in your grades, a higher grade can help you sell yourself better. But the decision to put your grade in your resume has to be taken wisely as a seemingly low grade will lower your chances and give a confused impression. So, the decision here should depend on the requirement of your grades in the resume and your confidence level regarding the same.

  • Can you include a half-finished degree?

Yes, that is the answer here. This is based on the assumption that hiring officials will like to see something rather than nothing. An almost completed degree can do good in many situations. But, it is to be kept in mind that a very short time at college, for example, a semester, does not make the same impact. 

  • How crucial is your school education?

School education deserves to be mentioned in your resume. But the preference should always be for the graduate or undergraduate programs. College programs are supposed to take up much of the space in the education section of your resume. If it is the case that you do not own a degree, it is worth mentioning your school program.

  • Should you elaborate on undergraduate papers?

The decision to include different subjects for papers you have studied in your graduation program has to be made depending primarily on the impact it may bring along. As long as the papers are relevant to the job position you are applying for, it is worth mentioning in your resume. It has the advantage of giving an impression to the hiring official that you own some expertise in the field. In most cases, basic compulsory courses don’t bring much of an impact. 

Substituting work experience

In the scenario of you not having enough work experience to flex in your resume, the decision has to be made regarding the inclusion of other sections, which can bring an almost equal impact of work experience. In this section, those possible fields are discussed.

  • Internships

Internships are highly rewarding in a resume with no work experience. If the internship is relevant to the field of application, it can be a proxy for work experience. There shouldn’t be any hesitation whatsoever about the inclusion of those internships which you think will bring you an edge over other candidates. But, you must take into consideration all essential components of presenting an internship in your resume. 

The location of the internship section in your resume is really important. It must have a compelling position close to the education section. This will help grab the attention of the hiring officials. A complete title of the internship is necessary. This is to avoid any sort of confusion that may arise regarding the same.

The internship title has to be followed by the title and role of the internship position. This has to be as specific as possible because its relationship to the job position is a higher advantage position. 

The final component of the internship is the name of the company, along with the location and duration of the aforementioned internship. Following this format leaves an impression on your professional way of presentation. This also holds the idea that the resume must follow a systematic approach that makes it easy for the reader to understand. 

One additional component that can be added in the internship section is that of the list of responsibilities you enjoyed and undertook as an intern at the organization. You can customize the responsibility section by giving priorities according to the requirements of the job position you have applied for. This, combined with any tangible achievements, will make your case stronger for the selection process, even if you don’t have work experience as such.

  • Projects

Projects, dissertation, and thesis is a valuable addition to your resume with no work experience. This can act as a good indicator for your areas of interest to validate your hard work and your curiosity. Your projects are of great importance if you are applying for a job position that synchronizes with the area of your graduate study. This will help to make the projects a proxy for your work experience, even if it’s not an exact substitute. 

A few things are to be kept in mind while you submit details of your projects or dissertation. The necessary components for the same are the title of the project along with its type, related organization specifying the area of research. You must mention the period of the study just like the way you do for the work experience. This is particularly helpful if your research has just been concluded. One additional component that is worthy of inclusion in the section is the related certifications or publications you have successfully pulled through concerning the aforementioned research. 

  • Extracurricular performance

Needless to say, extracurricular activities can fetch you an advantage in such situations where there does not exist much difference among the resumes of candidates. Extracurricular performance is important in two aspects. 

At one level, if it is a case that the extracurricular performance you are mentioning is related to the relevant field of job application, it will help you get additional points in comparison to other candidates. Remember that, in a situation where your resume does not have work experience, extracurricular performance is highly rewarding. On the other hand, even if the extracurricular activities you are mentioning are not related to the relevant field, it can still benefit you in the sense that it leaves a positive impression on your hard-working mentality and level of motivation.

  • Volunteering activities

Volunteering activities you have been part of in the past also need to be given a proper title, intention, duration, and location. Volunteering activities will help you secure a position in the next level of the selection process after reading your resume. The basic assumption that helps things to unfold this way is the love of hiring officials for a committed employee. This is an expression of your interest to be productive and efficient even in your free time. 

Volunteering activities may not be closely related to the field of application. Still, it leaves a great impact by increasing our chances to be selected among other candidates. 

Samples on the perfect presentation:

Each content is presented in a suggested way and also in a way that is discouraged. 

Suggested way:

–      Idealised promotional content and facilitated 10+ product reviews for a local enterprise

–      Completed an online course with a capstone project on social networking in CourseraXYZ

–      Organised and planned recreational activities for senior citizens at old age shelter 

Discouraged way

–      Wrote simple product reviews for a local grocery shop

–      Social marketing classes via courseraXYZ

–      Had fun with granny during festivals

Miscellaneous queries 

Many queries need to be answered before you finally draft your resume with no experience. This will help you to complete the process of preparation and to perfectly craft and customize your resume to leave a powerful positive impression.

➔   How lengthy should your resume be?

About the ideal length of a resume, many considerations are to be given importance. In the case of your resume with no work experience, the ideal length should be around a page. Going beyond a page and still not having work experience may give an impression to the recruiter that you are stretching too much. At the same time, a resume shorter than a page will give an impression that is converse. So you must right strike a balance and attempt to prepare a resume which is one full page with ample details. You can also incorporate formatting tools to make your resume a good-looking one.

If it is the case that you have to stretch your resume beyond a page, keep in mind to present all the top priority qualifications and sections on the first page itself. Pro tip here is that most hiring officials do not expect a multi-page resume from an entry-level candidate with no work experience. 

➔   Fonts in resume

Regarding the application of fonts for your resume, you should stick to the most applied and traditional fonts like the Times New Roman or Arial. More importantly, the usage of two different fonts in a one-page resume has to be strictly eliminated. It will not demand a professional look for your resume and is not worth taking a risk. 

➔   Font size

About the font size to be applied in your resume, the most decisive factor that is to be taken into consideration is the content of your resume. By default, you can use 16pt for your name. Section headers can be 12pt, and the rest of the content in your resume may be 11pt. Always remember that there is no thumb rule regarding the same, and you can apply slight changes depending on the content of your resume to make it one full page. 

➔   Colors in resume 

The application of color in your resume can be in two different dimensions. When you are submitting an entry-level resume with no work experience, the best idea is not to experiment too much and go with the basic black and white color scheme. Printing your resume on colored paper is also not advised when you do not have too much work experience to boast about. In situations like this, a safe choice is the best.

➔   Consistent resume

Consistency in presentation needs to be given prime importance while you draft your resume. This indicated that all items of your resume which are similar need to be aligned and formatted in the same manner. For example, if you are using a particular date format, it has to be consistent throughout your resume. Similarly, the font size you use for subheadings should not be different in one resume. Any deviation from this or when you are inconsistent in this will leave a bad impression on you regarding your background preparation.

➔   Perfect formatting

The primary objective of a resume is to catch the recruiters’ attention to the subheadings and content of it. Perfect formatting is a necessity. The focus should be on the contents, prioritization of subheadings, and conservative formatting. This is so because you are presenting a resume with no work experience. 

Key Takeaways 

Structuring the document perfectly by inputting the right formatting and content is the first step to making a resume with no work experience. You have to ensure that the keywords you use in your resume perfectly match the job advertisement and the job position you have applied for. This, coupled with your educational qualifications relevant to the field and the key skills, including soft skills, will manifold your chances of impressing the hiring manager. 

Since there is a lack of work experience, it is to be ensured that it does not reflect in the overall goodwill of your resume. This can be done by adding extra sections, which may boost your probability of getting the job. 

On top of everything, the resume statement for the resume objective has to be a compelling one that invariably highlights your performance history. 

It is not wise to assume that your experiences during your college days relevant to the field of application are of no use. It should be put to effective use by mentioning and stressing it in your resume. 

Last but not least, the aesthetics of your resume matter. You have to put real effort into the selection process of the resume template along with its crafting. Even the color combination, font size, and the font itself will play a role. Keeping consistency in the above-mentioned aspects will give the impression of you being a professional candidate and will provide great reward.

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