How to Make a Resume for a First Job

So you are fresh out of college and you are looking for a job. But you cannot find a job if you do not have experience, but in order to get experience you need a job. Sounds like a catch-22, right? Fortunately this is not a mission impossible situation. So how do you write a resume that takes into account the fact that you lack traditional work experience? Here advice on how to write a winning resume even if you have never held a real job. Think of it as a “my first resume” guide.

What to Include in a Resume

Summary of your skills and abilities

There was a time when a good resume needed to include an objective statement. It was a general statement about your career goals. These days when you make a resume, you want to stress how the employer benefits from hiring you, not the other way around. These days, your job resume should include a summary statement in which you describe in a sentence or two what you would bring to the table if hired. When done right, this can hook the hiring manager and persuade them to continue reading. 

Choose an appropriate format

There are essentially two types of resumes that are most commonly used today: the chronological resume format and functional resume. When creating a resume, you need to decide which one is more appropriate taking into consideration your circumstances. Since the chronological type puts the focus on past jobs, this option would make no sense if the goal is writing a resume with no job experience. The functional resume focuses on your skills and achievements, so you would almost certainly want to choose that type for your first resume. Keep in mind that in the future when you do have some work experience, you will be able to use aspects of both types.

Do not forget about editing resume

Anytime you are making a resume, you want to make sure you have not overlooked any details such as formatting mistakes, spelling errors and the like. The fact that this is your first job resume is not going to gain you any sympathy. Also make sure to use variety so that the resume does not sound robotic. Ultimately, you want to write a resume that is at least somewhat interesting to read. 

Do not underestimate the importance of your participation in student activities

If you want to know how to get a job with no experience, it starts with demonstrating to a potential employer that you had a productive student life outside of the classroom. So in this case, what should you include in a resume? If you were involved in student organizations, you would definitely want to let them know. If it is something that is especially relevant to the position you are applying for, that is even better!

Focus on your education and skills

If you are lacking work experience, demonstrating that you were a high-achieving student would be enough to forgive you. Furthermore, if you took courses and worked on projects that are relevant to the job, it would demonstrate that you have practical experience that you can apply. 

Internships

Internships - whether paid or unpaid - can really enhance a “no experience” resume. Not only does it allow you to highlight your work achievements, your supervisor would be able to put in a good word for you. In essence, it would be just as valuable as having held a job. 

Avoid several common mistakes

If you know how to write a resume properly, you likely understand that it can serve as a reflection of your character. For this reason, you would want to avoid using ridiculous-sounding email addresses like sweetbaby4u@hotmail.com that convey a sense of immaturity. At the same time, do not discuss your snowboard hobby unless you are applying to teach snowboarding. The job interview would be the time to let your potential employer know who you are, and even then only if they ask. You also should not include photos of yourself, references or writing samples unless specifically instructed to in the job description. 

Keywords are essential

Most employers these days scan and sort their resumes using an applicant tracking system. If you do not include a list of keywords for resume, they could very well pitch it without so much as a glance! The best way to find these keywords is to look at the job description itself, or other similar positions. When possible, avoid using cliché expressions such as “fast learner” “team player” and “highly organized.” Instead, you will want to provide evidence of these characteristics in your resume, preferably through results that can be quantified or otherwise measured. However, sometimes the job descriptions themselves will include overused keywords. If you must resort to using them, try to find a creative way to insert them, especially if you can in fact provide specific examples. 

Include a cover letter

Now that you know how to build a resume, you should also understand what goes into a proper cover letter. Although not every job description will require it, sending a brief cover letter along with your resume would be entirely appropriate. The cover letter specifically highlights how your skills and qualifications align with the duties and responsibilities of the job position. It can really help them understand your personality, especially if it is and could be the thing that leads to a job interview, even if your resume itself is lacking. 

Customize your resume for each job you apply 

Finally, make sure to create customized resumes based on each job you apply. Each job description will contain different keywords, different responsibilities, etc. By focusing on the things that are most important to the employer, you will increase your chances of getting noticed.

Ultimately, there is no standard method for writing a resume. You should update your resume regularly, even if you have a job. At this point, you will have some experience, which means you will be able to incorporate aspects of both chronological and functional resumes. Just be patient as you look for your first job. It might not happen when you said out your first application and resume, but in no time you will find an employer who wants the skills and traits that you have.

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