Resumes

How to Make a Resume for Entry Level Jobs

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What is an entry level job?

An entry level position is one which is designed to be filled by an individual without prior experience in the industry. Most commonly these positions are appealing to college graduates and individuals who have been out of the workforce.

When applying for an entry level position, you can still highlight skills learned in your nonworking life or in unrelated jobs. For example, when applying for a sales position, a recent college graduate who worked the front desk at a gym may opt to showcase the sales skills they learned while converting gym visitors into paid members. This article will explain the recommended way to create a resume that focuses on your skills when applying for an entry level job.

How to write a resume for an entry level position

Applying for an entry level position is not the same thing as applying for a higher position in a field where you are already established, and it should not be treated in the same way. By customizing your resume, you increase your chances of landing an interview where you can showcase your qualifications. 

Here are the steps to prepare your resume for an entry level position:

1. First, choose a resume format that will highlight your skills

The traditional resume format featured a heavy emphasis on prior work experience, with each major job listed in reverse chronological order and prior accomplishments and responsibilities detailed extensively. When you are lacking in applicable work experience, however, this is not the ideal approach to laying out your resume.

A functional resume format de-emphasizes your prior jobs, moving them down the resume and decreasing the amount of space each job is afforded. To replace work experience, the skills section of a functional resume is moved to the top and given increased space for elaboration.

This is the ideal resume format for an entry-level position, as the majority of an applicant’s most relevant skills and experiences are likely to come from outside of their working history. You can opt to note both skills directly applicable to the position, as well as general traits, such as a strong work ethic or the ability to learn quickly, which are useful at any job.

2. Second, update your methods of contact

Although it’s essential for everyone to have professional points of contact when applying for work, this is particularly important for entry level positions where the ability to present yourself well can be essential in convincing a potential employer to hire you.

If your given phone number has a voicemail message, make sure that it is professional and to the point. A simple message is best, such as, ‘You have reached Pat Johnson. I am not able to take your call at this moment. Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you!’

Similarly, while an email address with a handle like ‘Go_Steelers_2001@email.com’ may be fine to send to your friends, your professional email should simply be based upon your name. For example, ‘Pat_Johnson@email.com’ would be a better email address to use during your job search.

3. Third, write an effective opening statement for your resume

Often, a hiring manager may narrow the field with only a small period of time devoted to each resume during the initial sorting phase. Including a brief summary of one to two sentences at the top of your resume is an effective way to catch their eye and encourage a more thorough reading.

The traditional approach to an introductory statement was to state a goal you hope to accomplish at the company. While this can still be effective, it is not the only option available to you.

A summary statement which focuses on your best traits is a great way to put your most compelling attributes in front of the hiring manager, even if they are only affording a few seconds to each resume in the stack.

4. Fourth, adapt the relevant details in your resume that match the position’s job description

When you’re applying for many jobs at the same time, it can be tempting to rely on sending the same resume over and over. While this does allow you to fill out more applications in a shorter period of time, you can improve your overall success rate by tailoring your resume for each position. 

Pay attention to the job posting and make note of any particular abilities mentioned in the listing. Adjust the resume highlights to better match the offered position. The gym-working college graduate, for example, may opt to remove the special attention to sales when applying for a job as a customer service agent, choosing instead to focus on their experience helping gym members improve their daily experience.

5. Fifth, note your accomplishments

Just as a thorough accounting of your relevant skills will make you more appealing to employers, you can also use personal accomplishments to demonstrate your value. While work-applicable awards are most beneficial, other accomplishments that show your general character are also useful to highlight. A college graduate who received a citation for their charitable work while in school is demonstrating strong moral fiber and that is appealing to an employer.

6. Next, style your resume professionally

When a quick scan of resumes is being used to sort a pile of applications, those with unprofessional styling are unlikely to make the cut. Use a font that is easy to read both digitally or on paper, and clearly mark the different sections of your resume with headers.

7. Finally, include a cover letter

Although a cover letter is not a required part of a resume, you should treat it as if it is part of the process and attach one with every application you send out. The cover letter is not only another opportunity to call attention to your best attributes, but it also shows a willingness to put in extra effort for the position.

Functional resume structure

Choosing a functional resume for an entry level job application is an excellent way to make your strongest case. 

Here is a sample structure for the different sections of a functional resume:

  • Contact information
  • Introductory statement
  • Key qualifications
  • Skills, accomplishments and life experiences
  • Job history
  • Education history