For expected 2016 graduates trying to enter the workforce with no applicable experience, this is becoming a daunting top priority. There is also an overwhelming population of recent graduates within the last 1-3 years who have no relevant work history and are still trying to break into their field. The biggest mistake that they make is thinking, “Any job and the responsibilities held must be good to list on my resume.” This is not true! First and foremost, do not waste valuable space by listing irrelevant education, experience, skills, and additional content. Do not double space or have empty unused space.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If your current resume hasn’t had any success in getting you an interview, it’s time to change it up. Here are some new things you can try:
Header: use a definitive statement
Think of this like a universal business card, or billboard. For example, my header could be:
Phone Number / Professional Email Address
“Helping companies hire Superstars”
Summary: craft your “elevator pitch”
Your summary should be 3-4 sentences using specific skills and/or measurable accomplishments that would make you stand out among your peers.
For example: Recent graduate with BA in Accounting. Proven ability to take leadership roles and meet aggressive deadlines exhibited through “Mock Audit Project”. Highly motivated and on CPA track.
Objective: keep in mind how each company benefits from hiring you
Many job applicants make the mistake of using the “Objective” section of their resume to be very selfish and use the same vague statement throughout their entire job search process. Instead, make your resume stand out by crafting objectives that are specific for each company.
For example: To utilize my education and leverage the fresh perspective on social media in assisting the growth of Creative Financial Staffing.
Education: keep it relevant
Unfortunately, many recent graduates will waste valuable resume space by listing their high school diploma, additional classes, and unnecessary certifications in this section. Keep it relevant and include your GPA if it makes you stand out among your peers.
University of Connecticut; Storrs, CT 2012-2016
BA: Political Science
Overall GPA: 3.5/4.0 Major GPA: 3.79/4.0
Experience: don’t be afraid to tackle this section
Get it out of your head that you need to include irrelevant of your work experience. Instead, focus on the skills that you can bring to benefit the department by analyzing the job description.
For example: If you are targeting a Financial Analyst role and the job description states, “Conduct research of market trends and competitors”, you can list “Research Skills” and include your experience you have gained in writing your research paper or final project. You may also list skills such as: time management, leadership, organization, problem solving, communication, multitasking, prioritizing, dependability, and taking initiative. Tailor this section based on each job description and include specific examples. Be prepared to validate each of the skills listed on your resume during an interview.
Work History: the inevitable
As you may have noticed, I did not advise to list any employers, titles, or responsibilities in the “Experience” section. The “Work History” section will satisfy those employers who ultimately would like to see specific dates of employment. This is the short and brief section where you can list your summer jobs, internships, and volunteer work. Since you already described your skills in the section above, you do not need to list anything else other than company, role, and dates.
Italian Restaurant: Waitress January, 2016- Present
Office: Receptionist June 2015- August 2015
Summer Camp: Counselor June 2014- August 2014
Nonprofit: Volunteer December 2013
The key to drafting a resume without prior experience is to tailor it to each job based on specific skills with examples. Put yourself in the hiring manger’s shoes: ask yourself if you would hire you and why.
Do you have a success story or additional tips? We’d love to hear them in your comments below!