Writing a Resume with No Work Experience

Writing a resume with no work experience can be stressful. It’s easy to assume that you simply have nothing at all to write or offer and to talk yourself out of success before you’ve even begun. However, thinking outside of the box can help you create an outstanding resume that is every bit as competitive as the resumes produced by those with more formal work experience. It’s all in how you market yourself.

Don’t Get Fixated on Length

Resist the temptation to “pad” your resume in order to create a full page. Hiring managers don’t care how long your resume is. They care about how you’ll meet their needs. Quality is thus more important than quantity. The goal here is to highlight your strengths, not to hide your lack of experience.

Pay Special Attention to the Resume Objective Statement

The resume objective statement allows you to capture attention and to showcase your strengths right away. It’s also a good place to “freeform,” which gives you some room to express yourself. Read our article about the resume objective statement to understand more about how to turn this portion of your resume to your advantage.

Pay Special Attention to the Cover Letter

The resume cover letter is another great place to market your unique strengths. It gives you a much longer format in which to communicate your strengths and skills, as well as explaining why you think you’d be the answer to the company’s problems. Do you want this entry level event planning position because you successfully headed the senior prom committee? Then say so! Help the employer understand the personality and talents that will make you a great hire.

Don’t Overlook Unpaid Experience and Self-Employment

Unpaid volunteer work for clubs, churches community organizations and even neighbors can all count as experience, especially if you achieved anything noteworthy or duplicated any functions of any paid position from the more formal world of work. You may also have been self-employed without ever thinking to apply the term to yourself. Did you babysit? Then you worked as a self-employed child-care provider. Did you mow lawns? Then you worked as a self-employed groundskeeper. Work experience is more than a W2 and a steady paycheck: it’s all about contribution.

Focus on your Skills

Think about every skill that could aid you in this new position, and think about everything you’ve done that proves the skills. How fast can you type? Are you willing to take a typing test? Are you applying for a sales position? How many sales did you pull off during that big school fundraiser? Are you the family member that can make all of the other family members understand how to work their computers? Maybe you really are ideal for that tech support job. Skills are often more important than experience as almost every employer trains new hires in their own specific methods or procedures.

Add References

Your resume is a great place for references, especially if you’re adding self-employment activities. Make sure the reference will have something nice to say about you, of course, but list as many of them as you can to lend more credibility to your resume.

Add Relevant Awards

Add any awards which you feel are relevant. Did you win a programming contest? That’s great for the software development internship. Did you win a high school spelling bee? That’s relevant to the entry-level proofreader’s position. Almost any prestigious academic award is generally relevant. Do not list your GPA: that doesn’t count as an award, it’s less important than you think it is, and unless it is stellar it can only hurt your cause.

If All Else Fails, Temp

If you put together a no-work experience resume and you’re still having trouble landing a job you might find a solution in temporary work. Not only does temporary work give you experience and a paycheck, but it also gets your foot in the door with companies who might not have given you the time of day before learning what you could do. Temporary agencies temporary hire on the basis of skills test results and not on the basis of resumes. You can of course continue to seek more permanent employment while working for the agency.

Don’t Be Afraid!

Entry-level jobs are just that: entry-level. A lack of formal experience does not bar you from those jobs. Indeed, employers may even see it as a plus, something which allows them to train you as they’d like. You have as much right to put your name out there as anyone else does, so put your best foot forward and don’t ever give up!