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Choose the Right Resume Format
The first step is selecting a resume format that will highlight your skills. After all, it’s your skills, not your limited work experience, that will land you the interview.
The three main formats are the chronological resume, the functional resume and the combination resume. Each of them organizes information differently and they’re not interchangeable, so choose wisely.
We highly recommend the functional or combination formats for job seekers considering entry-level positions because they put your skills in front. You emphasize your skills and capabilities in your educational experience, internships, and volunteer activities demonstrating what makes you a valuable asset.
You can also consider using the combination resume format if you’re switching careers and don’t have a lot of experience in your new job field or are reentering the job market. The combination resume does have a work history section but if you’re changing fields you can add experiences from other jobs or activities that are relevant to your new career.
Creating a Resume When You have No Work Experience
1. Highlight your strengths in your summary.
Use your summary statement to feature the top qualifications that the employer wants. For example, if a babysitter job posting asks for someone energetic, you could write: “Enthusiastic and attentive babysitter with ability to take charge, prepare meals, and create engaging activities. Certified in First Aid and CPR.”
2. Your skills will help you shine.
Write down a complete list of your skills, and then organize them into the three categories below. Remember to adjust your skills to address the job you’re applying for — recruiters and hiring managers will likely list top skills in their job postings.
- Make a bulleted list of your soft skills. These are intangible abilities or personal traits that are not tied to one specific job and generally help you thrive in the workplace. For example: team player, well organized, fast learner, excellent communication, problem-solving, or critical thinking would be appropriate skills to add to this section.
- In a “Summary of Qualifications” section present up to three skills that you’ve learned or used in internships, projects or extracurricular activities that are relevant to the job you’re applying to, and briefly expand on them, as you can see in our resume example.
- You can dive further into your most-used hard skills in the “Professional Skills” or “Relevant Skills” section. A professional skill, or hard skill, is an ability acquired through practice, education and repetition that is job-specific. For example: Java Script, data management, editing, translation, cloud computing, or budgeting.
3. Think about your work experience in broader terms.
If you use a combination resume, that means you have some work experience and you should list them with accomplishments. If you have no work experience with an employer, this is where you start thinking broader.
Use a functional resume to capture how your skills and accomplishments qualify you for the position. Include internships, personal projects or extracurricular activities (like a volunteer experience) related to the position you are applying for. Having relevant experience is just as valuable as work experience.
4. Emphasize your education.
Show off special recognitions, like graduating magna cum laude or summa cum laude, below your school’s name. If you took relevant coursework or possess a certification that can help get you hired, you can create a separate section titled “Relevant Coursework” or “Certifications,” for this information. For example:
University of Florida
B.A. in Graphic Design
- Packaging Design
- Image and Concept Development
- Virtual Communities
University of Michigan
B.S. in Accounting
Magna cum laude
- Certified Public Accountant
- Certified Fraud Examiner
How including a Cover Letter can help you
Submitting a cover letter with your resume will help you look more professional in the eyes of the hiring manager. According to the Society of Human Resources Management, it also demonstrates your genuine interest in the job and company.
A cover letter is a blank canvas where you can market yourself, providing more details about your career story, while allowing you to include extra information about who you are, your achievements and your abilities. You can also provide further context about how you approached specific projects or any notable accomplishments. Finally, cover letters give hiring managers insight into your personality, traits, and how you can add value to their company.
Get started writing your cover letter by checking out our large selection of Cover Letter examples. You might find a design that complements your resume.