You’re looking for a job to get some experience, but all the jobs want you to already have some experience. What do you do?
Prove you have relevant experience. Relevant experience doesn’t have to be confined to job experience. It is experience you’ve gained during your lifetime that qualifies you to the position you’re seeking.
Follow these guidelines of what to put on a resume with no experience to land an interview.
Include 5 sections on your resume with no experience:
Within each of these sections you will focus on your relevant experience, highlight your key skills, and add additional information to boost your chances of landing that interview.
- Header Section
The header includes your contact information. There is some debate as to whether to include your home address. I’m of the opinion that it is important. This can be especially valuable if the job requires you to be in-person. Definitely include your LinkedIn profile, phone number, and a professional email. HipsterGeorge@mysite.com is fun in college, not at the workplace.
- Write Your Objective
This is also a grey area on the resume. If your resume is plump with experience, I would say ditch the objective to save space. But we’re writing a resume with no experience. Having a stated objective and introduction will likely help you. In the objective you want to make three points: who you are, what you want, and why you’re the perfect person. Here’s an example:
Motivated and career driven student in the Applied Arts and Design program at UCLA (GAP 3.87). Ready to work with ABC Company as Junior Illustrator to grow professionally and drive ABC Company’s message to its customers using graphical illustration and 3D modeling. Strong background in 2D and 3D illustration and computer animation.
- Taunt Your Education
If you have absolutely no experience, your education section will likely be the strength of your resume. In some cases when you cannot come up with any experience relevant to the position (this is unlikely by the way!), the education section will replace the experience section. List where you’re going to school or went to school, your major, and GPA – if it’s over 3.5. If you have a low GPA don’t worry about it, but definitely don’t highlight it! After you have some experience under your belt, your GPA becomes much less relevant anyway.
In this section, you will highlight your relevant coursework. If the title of the course is clear, no description is necessary. However, if the education section is going to replace the experience section, I recommend describing, in brief, your coursework. Always be specific and pointed towards the job description.
If you completed a capstone project or had your thesis published, include that. Or you can include any extracurriculars or achievements. If you choose to include both extracurriculars and achievements, use two separate subheadings.
Continuing with the sample above, your education section may look like this:
2016 – 2020
University of California, Los Angeles
Design and Applied Arts
- Tangible Media
- Three-Dimensional Modeling and Motion
- Network Media
- Topics in Video and Animation
- 3D modeling of XYZ product to increase in-app purchases for Fun, Inc.
Extracurricular activities and achievements:
- Dean’s List all semesters
- Highlighting Relevant Work Experience
Go back to the job posting. Read it carefully for keywords. Chances are that your resume will have to pass an applicant tracking system (ATS). This is a software program used to scan resumes for relevant experience using a set of keywords/phrases.
Next, you’ll want to write down everything you’ve done relevant to the position. Include internships, volunteer work, what you’ve done in pursuit of your hobbies, and helping friends, family, and neighbors. For now, leave nothing out. After you have your list, tailor your bullet points using the language in the job posting. This will help your resume get through the ATS screening.
If you have actual job experience, be sure to list employers, dates of employment, and bulleted relevant job duties. If you do not have actual job experience or very little, list your employers as noted and also include a subheading for relevant experience.
Use resume action verbs to begin your bullet points: collaborated, designed, improved, organized, etc. Continuing with our example:
- Created an illustrated manual showing how current-year updates interfaced with older versions of the software program for my local Illustrator’s Club.
- Developed an animated model of a kid using a vacuum cleaner for a member-only Facebook group.
- Illustrated a manual for a computer software program.
- Made an animated model of vacuuming.
- Refining and Listing Your Skills
Use this section to convince the hiring team you have what it takes to be successful in the role you’re applying for. Return to the job posting and the list of relevant experience you created. Look for the skills being asked of you. Pull out the skills you used in your list of relevant experience. For example:
Created an illustrated manual showing how current-year updates interfaced with older versions of the software program for my local Illustrator’s Club.
- Creative thinking
- Organization skills
- Presentation skills
- Leadership skills
Does the job posting ask for any of these skills? Remember – you will have to prove you have these skills, so be truthful. Choose to include skills that are backed-up in the experience section of your resume. Be sure you can go into more detail related to your skills during the interview.
Finally, you can include any parting “extras” that make you stand out. A great example is knowing different languages, taking relevant certification courses, or membership or hobbies that show your human side.
Most importantly, your resume should be one page and one page only! Following these guidelines for what to put on a resume with no experience. Use headings and bullets to highlight relevant sections. Be succinct. And don’t forget about ATS screening! Once you’re all done writing, go back to see if you can find keywords or phrases that will get your resume through the first round of screening without sounding like you are keyword stuffing.
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