If you have little to no formal work experience, putting together a resume may seem like a daunting task. The good news is that even with a limited employment history, you can still create an impressive resume that showcases your skills and the value you can bring to a job. The key is formatting, and knowing the right content to include.
Rather than listing your chronological work history, a functional resume highlights your experiences in a way that showcases what you bring to the table. This type of resume works best for candidates new to the workforce, going through career changes, or applying to positions that have nothing to do with their employment history. Though it may be tempting, it’s important to not stretch the truth here –you probably have more experience than you think you do. It is a matter of identifying what skills you have learned in everyday life that will translate to relevant skills in the workplace.
A summary statement on the top of your resume will provide an overview of who you are as a candidate, and your potential as an employee. For example:
Recent graduate with BA in Psychology. Excellent research, problem-solving, and time management skills. Organized and able to manage multiple projects while maintaining strict deadlines
(This will be more attention-grabbing than an objective statement, which we’ve written about here).
With a limited employment history, it’s appropriate to list any casual jobs you may have held in the past, like babysitting or yard work, to show that you have a sense of responsibility. It’s important to home in on the skills you learned by holding these positions: time management, leadership, organization, etc. You can also include any organizations you are a part of, especially if you hold a position of importance or are a board member. Don’t list hobbies though, unless you can think of a reason they would be relevant to the position you are applying to.
If you don’t have any casual jobs to list, volunteer work is an excellent way to add color to your resume. Through volunteering, you are able to learn skills that should be easily transferable to the workplace. Volunteering also puts you in a position to ask a supervisor for a reference, and they should be able to reaffirm your work ethic to hiring managers. Also take this opportunity to list academic achievements, including any awards you have won, group work you have led, and any projects that you are particularly proud of; bonus points if they showcase “tools of the trade”.
To identify what skills you should include, first read the job description and hone in on what they are looking for. That way you are able to prioritize what to include, and what is better left off. Show examples of how you have used these skills to give employers a better understanding of your abilities.
Ex: Research Skills –developed and conducted surveys to measure attitude towards club activities and general perception. Time Management: Met bi-weekly deadlines as a contributing writer for X Publication.
It’s important that your resume is easy to read and has an organized layout. Double check for any spelling and grammar mistakes –you want to make a good impression, and errors will tarnish your chances of getting an interview. Finally, make sure that the contact email you’ve listed is professional looking: no firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t have one that is appropriate in a business setting, it takes a matter of minutes to set up a new one. Try combinations of your first and last name until you find a username available that you won’t be embarrassed to say out loud.
It’s possible to create a stand-out resume, even if your experience is light or you are new to the workforce. By using a functional resume that shows off your skills and experiences, employers will be able to gain a sense of your qualifications. There’s no one way to create a perfect resume –but by playing with formatting and tailoring the content in a way that highlights your qualifications, you can still make a great impression.