You've done some research and examined a few samples, and even though you've never created a professional resume before, you understand the basic idea and you're pretty sure you know what a winning resume should look like. You know that each section should be brief and clear, and you can tell the difference between an exceptional, show-stopping work history and a weaker one. There's only one problem: you know what a strong work history looks like, but that doesn't mean you have one.
If you've never held a serious professional job in your life, how can you create a work history section that can help you compete? Keep these tips in mind.
1. Maintain Some Perspective
Don't overestimate the amazing work histories that are likely to be presented by your competition. Recognize that if you're pursuing an entry-level job and you graduated less than a year ago, your fellow candidates probably are in the same boat you are. If you assume that your competitors are wunderkinds who entered the work world at the age of 12, you'll only discourage yourself. They aren't. And they aren't mid-career job seekers in their forties, either. If you're aiming too high, reset your sights onto positions that are more realistic and within your reach. There are plenty of them out there.
2. Make the Most of Your Coursework
It's true that you've never held a job…but you've worked. And you've worked hard. If you've ever completed a lab with a team, entered a contest as part of a class project, or led your classmates to victory on an assignment or creative endeavor, use this as experience. Describe the incident in your work history section using a line or two, and explain how this project or event prepared you for the job at hand.
3. Title the Section Appropriately
Cross out the heading that reads "Work Experience" and replace it with something more accurate. Try "Relevant Experience" instead. Then feel free to list your extracurricular activities, your volunteer efforts, your part-time gigs as a babysitter or lifeguard, or the work you've done for your church group or community. Just be ready to explain how these accomplishments are "relevant". Your employers will want to know how these projects demonstrate your teamwork skills, your resilience, or your ability to push through and stick with a difficult task until it's complete.
4. Shrink It Down
When mid-career professionals draft a resume, they usually dedicate most of the space on the page to the "Work History" section. The other sections, including "Education" and "Special Skills", tend to take up far less real estate and may be reduced to just a few lines total. But in your case, it's better to plump these sections up and add more detail, since this part of your track record can help you much more than your non-existent list of previous positions. Describe more of your relevant courses. Describe your ambitions and plans at greater length. Break your skills section into subsections for athletics, artistic accomplishments, and technological proficiencies. Use the space on the page to your best advantage.
For more on how to bring out the best aspects of your record, even if you don't really have one, use the tools available on MyPerfectResume.