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How to Write a Resume with No Experience & Get the First Job

How to Write a Resume with No Experience & Get the First Job

Consider this catch-22 situation:

 

To get a job you need some experience. But to get some experience you need a job.

 

Bummer.

 

That’s exactly what lots of job seekers get frustrated about when writing your first resume with no work experience.

 

But let me share a little secret:

 

To get a job, you don’t really need to show you’ve got some experience. What you must prove is that you have— 

 

Relevant experience.

 

And this little detail makes all the difference.

 

In this guide, we’ll show you how to leverage your relevant experience to get a job you want. Even if you think you have no experience to put on a resume. Plus, you’ll get to see how to write a resume from beginning to end, and what to focus on when your employment history is (close to) non-existent.

 

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.

Create your resume now

 

sample resume with no experience templates

Sample resume with no experiencer—See more templates and create your resume here.

Looking for other type of advice on resume writing? Here’s a selection of our guides:

 

Sample Resume with No Work Experience

 

A. Peter Medina

Marketing Consultant

+1-23-456-78900

apmedina@email.com

linkedin/in/apmedina

 

A motivated and personable student pursuing a BA in Media Studies at the University of California Berkeley (GPA 3.89). Eager to join ABC Inc. as Marketing Consultant to help establish quick and long-lasting relationships with customers and assist in developing and implementing marketing materials. Strong theoretical background in consumer behavior, skilled at organizing events and copywriting (incl. 20+ reviews, brochures, and others).

 

Education

 

2018—present

University of California Berkeley

Media Studies

GPA: 3.89

Relevant coursework:

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Sociology of Culture
  • Science, Narrative, Image
  • Virtual Communities/Social Media

Extracurricular activities and achievements:

  • Dean’s List all semesters

 

2018

George Washington High School, Los Angeles, CA

High School Diploma

GPA 3.90

Combined SAT score: 1450 (Math: 650, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 800)

Activities:

  • Member of Basketball Team, Grade 10-12

 

Experience

 

2017—

Freelancing & Volunteering

Los Angeles, CA

  • Helped local community develop marketing materials to promote a series of garage sales events by designing posters and setting up a Facebook group.
  • Wrote promotional texts and 20+ professional product reviews for a local technology website.
  • Turned a friend into an Apple customer by effectively communicating the advantages of iOS over Android for his purposes.
  • Created a fan site for a musical band, as well as built and managed a team of two regular news and content contributors. The website was mentioned in a Loudwire article.
  • Organized and led games and activities for groups of 10+ school children.
  • Completed a training course on the principles of effective marking on Udemy.

 

Skills

 

  • Analytical skills
  • Creative thinking
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Motivation
  • Oral and written communication
  • Organizational skills
  • Presentation skills

 

Languages

 

  • Spanish (Advanced)
  • French (Conversational)

 

Certifications

 

  • Marketing 101—Udemy Certification

 

Hobbies and Interests

 

  • Coffee culture (Certified Barista)
  • Basketball

 

And this is our bulletproof writing formula—

 

How to make a resume for your first job:

 

  • Pick the right resume layout.
  • Make a meaningful education section.
  • Focus on your relevant experience.
  • Sprinkle the entire resume with your key skills.
  • Include additional sections to boost your chances.
  • Compose a powerful introductory paragraph.
  • Format your resume for maximum readability.
  • Write a cover letter to tell your story.

 

Read on for detailed instructions and examples.

 

1

Choose the Best Resume Structure

 

You’re about to write a resume with no job experience, which suggests… you haven’t had much experience writing a resume at all.

 

The resume you’re about to write will consist of the following sections:

  • Header that includes your contact details.
  • Objective, i.e. a short paragraph summarizing your skills.
  • Education, where you add info on the schools you attended.
  • Experience section. Paradoxical? Yes. But it may come in handy. You’ll see.
  • Skills section, where you list your key abilities.

 

Apart from these, your resume will surely benefit from such additional sections as languages, hobbies, certifications, etc. Anything that you can do that’s relevant to the job you’re pursuing should end up on your resume with no work experience.

Would you like to add something more to your resume? Head straight to our guide: Resume Sections & Categories (with Tips on Order & Titles)

Now let’s move on to actually writing something.

 

2

Add the Education Section

 

Here’s the thing:

 

On a first time resume with no experience, education could be your main strength.

 

Especially, if you really have nothing to put in the experience section. Speaking of which—

 

Here’s what the education section on a resume with no experience for a college student can look like:

 

Resume for College Student with No Experience—Education Section 

 

2018–present

University of California Berkeley

Media Studies

GPA: 3.89

 

Relevant coursework:

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Sociology of Culture
  • Science, Narrative, Image
  • Virtual Communities/Social Media

 

Extracurricular activities and achievements:

  • Dean’s List all semesters

 

High School Student Resume with No Work Experience—Education Section

 

George Washington High School, Los Angeles, CA

Expected graduation date: 2020

Relevant coursework: Digital Media Arts, Social Media, Negotiation

 

Extracurricular activities:

  • Member of Basketball Team, Grade 10–12
  • Psychology Club, Grade 11–12

 

As you can see in the example above, the education section on a resume with no work experience is more than just the name of the school and dates attended. It also includes:

 

You can also consider putting cum laude on a resume, as well as study abroad programs you participated in.

 

But beware—

 

Don’t fall into the trap of listing everything you can. Stick to the things that matter in the context of the job offer.

 

Our example shows off high academic results because the job offer states that the role will require absorbing daily training sessions on product knowledge and strategy. Also, the candidate’s field of study is related to the job—that’s why listing relevant coursework makes perfect sense.

 

Also, if your education is your only strength, consider putting it higher up on your resume than the experience section.

 

And—just like before—this works exactly the same for a college graduate or high school student resume with no work experience. You’d be just listing different schools.

If you still need more information on how to make the most of the education section on your resume with no experience, read our guide: How to Put Education on a Resume

3

Include Your Relevant Experience

 

Listen:

 

Recruiters only want one thing—

 

Hire the candidate who’ll get the job done better than the rest.

 

And the best way for a recruiter to get an idea about what candidates can do is to get a glimpse of what they did in the past.

 

This is where your relevant experience comes in.

 

The first step to identifying your relevant experience is to look at the job ad closely and take note of what exactly the role you’re pursuing involves.

 

Here’s an excerpt from an offer for an entry-level marketing consultant:


job offer

 

As you can see, the position requires a certain set of skills that you could either have developed during an internship (but this counts as experience, so we’re not considering this scenario), while at school (e.g. as a member of student societies), or pursuing your hobbies, volunteering, helping your family members, etc.

If you completed an internship (paid or unpaid) learn how to put it on your resume from this article: How to Put an Internship on a Resume [Guide and Examples] 

Pro Tip: When writing a resume for the first job you shouldn’t be targeting random offers. Focus on the ones in line with your education, personal interests, or the things you’ve done before. If you don’t, your job search may last forever.

Now—

 

Take a step back and think about all the things you’ve done that are related to the skills and duties the employer put on the job ad. Note them down. Your list could look something like this:

  • Wrote product reviews for a local tech-oriented website.
  • Convinced a friend to switch to an iPhone after explaining to him the advantages of iOS over Android for his purposes.
  • Prepared posters and set up a Facebook group for a series of local garage sales events.
  • Created a website from scratch for my favorite band and found two collaborators to help me with writing content. The website was mentioned in a Loudwire article.
  • Organized several birthday parties for a younger cousin and prepared games and activities for her friends.
  • Completed an online Marketing 101 course on Udemy.

 

All the above are in some way relevant to what the job ad says, so you can include them on your “no-experience” resume. But the problem is—

 

They lack the right resume keywords.

 

In short—

 

A lot of companies use the so-called ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software to streamline their recruitment processes. ATSs look for keywords on candidates’ resumes to assess whether or not the candidate has relevant experience. Thanks to this initial screening, recruiters have fewer documents to look at and they aren’t distracted by applications that don’t match criteria set out in the job ad.

 

This type of screening requires you to write an ATS-friendly resume.

 

In other words:

 

If you want to make your experience count, you have to phrase it appropriately by falling back on the wording of the job offer itself. Here’s what it could look like:

 

Resume for Someone with No Work Experience—Example

 

RIGHT

2017—

Freelancing & Volunteering

Los Angeles, CA

  • Helped local community develop marketing materials to promote a series of garage sales events by designing posters and setting up a Facebook group.
  • Wrote promotional texts and 20+ professional product reviews for a local technology website.
  • Turned a friend into an Apple customer by effectively communicating the advantages of iOS over Android for his purposes.
  • Created a fan site for a musical band, as well as built and managed a team of two regular news and content contributors. The website was mentioned in a Loudwire article.
  • Organized and led games and activities for groups of 10+ school children.
  • Completed a training course on the principles of effective marking on Udemy.
WRONG
  • Writing product reviews for a local website.
  • Convinced a friend to switch to an iPhone from Android.
  • Helped with Facebook and posters for a garage sale.
  • Made a fan page for my favorite band.
  • Helped with several birthday parties for a younger cousin.
  • Took marketing classes via Udemy.

 

See the difference?

 

You’re talking about the same things but using the language of the job offer. It’s not a fancy trick, it’s what you need to do if you want to pass the ATS screening.

 

Plus—

 

As you’re typing up your experience bullet points, make sure you start each one with a resume action verb such as collaborated, designed, improved. It’s also a good idea to put numbers wherever you can. Numbers demonstrate your real-life impact.

 

Finally:

 

The examples above will work regardless of your education level. You can use exactly the same approach when making a college or high school student resume with no experience.

If you’re not sure how to describe your experience effectively, read our guide on Making the Best Work Experience Section for a Resume

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

4

List Your Key Skills

 

You need to convince the recruiter you have what it takes to be successful in the role you’re pursuing. All the more so as your resume has little (or no) work experience.

 

That’s why you must give your skills as much prominence as possible.

 

How?

 

Go through the job offer carefully and make a list of all the skills you see there.

 

On the basis of the job offer we’ve used as an example, the list could include such skills as:

 

Examples of Skills for a Resume with No Experience

 

 

Now—

 

Take a good look at the list you end up with, pick the ones that you have and can prove.

 

If you decide to put a skill like leadership on your first job resume, make sure there’s an achievement or activity that testifies to this. In our sample resume with no experience, the candidate’s organizational skills are reflected in the bullet point that says the candidate organized activities for children, for example.

 

Such connections between skills and experience are even more important during the interviewing stage when recruiters will be asking you about the details.

 

Remember:

 

Your skills section should only contain the skills that are self-evident from your experience (or education section) or the ones you’re able to prove otherwise.

 

Don’t be tempted to lie on your resume because if you make it to the interview, all the lies will come out. And once they do, you’ll end up in a very uncomfortable situation.

Pro Tip: Sprinkle your skills throughout your resume for first job. Include some in the experience and education sections, as well as in your resume objective.

Not sure how to make the most of your skills on a resume? Read our guide 99 Key Skills for a Resume (Best List of Examples for All Jobs)

5

Add Extra Sections for Maximum Impact

 

When your resume’s experience section is wanting, you must jump on every opportunity to make up for it elsewhere.

 

If you have language skills to show off, do it by all means. If you want to put certifications on a resume—list them as long as they’re relevant. If your hobbies and interests on a resume prove you’re a cultural fit, don’t hesitate to mention them.

 

Everything that’s relevant to the job should make its way to your resume—that’s how you can make a resume with no experience stand out. 

 

Here’s a couple of examples of extra resume sections to give you some ideas:

 

Languages

 

  • Spanish (Advanced)
  • French (Conversational)

 

Certifications

 

  • Marketing 101—Udemy Certification

 

Hobbies and Interests

 

  • Coffee culture (Certified Barista)
  • Basketball

 

6

Write a Compelling Resume Objective

 

At this point, your resume with no experience has all it needs… except for the beginning.

 

And no, it’s not a joke. The best moment to write the opening paragraph of your “starter” resume is when everything else is in place.

 

Why?

 

Simple—

 

You need to highlight the best parts of your resume… which is only possible once the entire document is ready.

 

So read your resume closely and find up to 3 things you’d like to show off to your reader immediately.

 

Once you find them, you’re ready to write your resume objective statement. It’s a short introductory paragraph showing who you are and what skills you have that the company could benefit from.

Pro Tip: Don’t write a summary for a resume if you have no experience. Summaries are for those who already have some professional experience under the belt.

Here’s what a resume objective can look like:

 

Objective (Not a Summary) for a Resume with No Experience—Examples 

 

RIGHT

A motivated and personable student pursuing a BA in Media Studies at the University of California Berkeley (GPA 3.89). Eager to join ABC Inc. as Marketing Consultant to help establish quick and long-lasting relationships with customers and assist in developing and implementing marketing materials. Strong theoretical background in consumer behavior, skilled at organizing events and copywriting (incl. 20+ reviews, brochures, and others).

WRONG

I am a student looking for my first job. I am a dedicated and motivated person with strong work ethics and willingness to develop. I would love to join your company to gain some hands-on marketing experience.

 

Take a good look at the examples above.

 

The good example follows a simple formula: who you are, what you want, what you can give back to the company. This is all you need to communicate in this section of your resume.

 

Here is how a good resume would nail it:

  • Start with your strong character traits (motivated, personable). It’s best to take a look at the job ad to see what the employer needs rather than put random stuff here.
  • Say who you are (student pursuing a BA in… ). You can mention your academic achievements here (high GPA for instance).
  • Mention the company you’re applying to by name to personalize your resume.
  • Say what you want to do for the company. You can take a look at the job ad to see what tasks are listed.
  • Say what your strengths are. You’re welcome to plug in a couple of your biggest achievements here as well.

 

The bad example has nothing of the above. It just expresses what the candidate wants, not what they can give to the company or what they want to do.

 

Plus, it’s generic enough to fit any role at any company—and this is how you can quickly tell a poorly-written resume objective from a great one.

Not sure how to write a captivating opening of your resume? Head to our guide on How to Write a Professional Resume Profile—Examples, Statements & Tips

7

Format Your Resume for Readability

 

Your resume is almost done.

 

The only thing you need to do now is format it properly:

 

This is it! Your document is ready to be sent out to the recruiter.

Want to learn more about resume formats? Read our guide: Resume Formats—Find the Best One for Your Needs

8

Write a Cover Letter to Boost Your Chances

 

Here’s the thing—

 

About 50% of candidates send a cover letter along with their job application. Since your resume doesn’t exactly abound in professional experience, you can boost your chances of landing an interview by writing a great cover letter.

 

This is how to write a great cover letter:

  • See to it that your cover letter format follows all the formal correspondence formatting rules.
  • Write a captivating cover letter intro that introduces you to the reader and encourages them to read on.
  • Say what skills you have and they can be of benefit to the company.
  • Explain why you’re a great cultural fit.
  • Always end your cover letter with a call-to-action.

 

Also, make sure your cover letter has the right length.

 

Remember—

 

A cover letter shouldn’t repeat the content from your resume. Use it to tell the recruiter about your motivations, fill in the gaps on your resume, and convince them you’re the best candidate hands down.

Here’s a guide that will show you how to write a cover letter in several simple steps: How to Write a Cover Letter in No Time

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

 

matching set of resume and cover letter

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

How to Make a Resume With No Work Experience?

 

  • Structure your document properly. Use the right formatting and elements.
  • Present your relevant experience. Come up with as many examples as possible.
  • Use the right keywords. They can make or break your resume.
  • Add information on your education. Focus on relevant aspects (e.g. GPA, honors)
  • List your key skills. Focus on those relevant to the position.
  • Add extra resume sections. They will boost your chances.
  • Write a compelling objective. Highlight your selling points.
  • Compose a cover letter.  Tells the recruiter your story. 

 

Thanks for reading my guide! Now I’d love to hear from you:

  • What are the biggest challenges of writing a resume with no work experience? 
  • What part do you struggle with the most? 
  • Let me know. Let’s get the discussion started!
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Maciej Duszyński
Maciej is a career expert with a solid background in the education management industry. He's worked with people at all stages of their career paths: from interns to directors to C-suite members, he now helps you find your dream job.

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