Resumes

Best Things to Put on a Resume When You Have No Experience

In this ‘Best Things to Put on a Resume When You Have No Experience’ article:


The best things to list on your resume if you have no experience

No professional experience on your resume? No problem – as long as you read this guide on how to write a resume when you have no work experience.

There are plenty of reasons why you may not have any previous work experience to list on your resume. There are many other things you can add to your resume to show employers that you are the perfect candidate for their open job post.

When you don’t have work experience, it’s important to highlight past activities, skills and other experiences you’ve had to show you have unique skills, professionalism and competency. When managers are hiring entry-level employees, the top two characteristics they are looking for in your resume are attitude and aptitude.

That is:

  1. Attitude – a positive, hardworking, and likable personality
  2. Ability – aptitude to get up to speed quickly on the job

Keep these two traits in mind while writing your resume and add any relevant experiences that show that you have the attitude and aptitude for the job.

1. Professional summary (even if you have no experience)

Modern day resumes call for a professional summary instead of a career objective. Your professional summary should come immediately after your name and contact information and will include two or three sentences giving a broad overview of your background, interests and abilities.

Since you don’t have work experience, your professional summary should include one or two adjectives describing your work ethic, your level of education, your relevant skills and your professional passions or interests. Each professional summary should be tailored to the specific job you are applying for.

Professional summary example #1:
Proactive and personable aspiring restaurant server currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in hospitality from Coral Springs University. Collaborative, team player who strongly believes that the customer should always come first. Passionate about Italian food and strongly interested in working in a fast-casual restaurant setting.

Professional summary example #2:
Analytical and detail-oriented aspiring Data Entry Clerk possessing an Associate of Arts degree. Mathematical-minded as demonstrated by advanced college coursework in mathematics and statistics. Interested in obtaining an entry-level position in the data analytics field.

2. Key skills you’ve learned in school and other experiences

After your professional summary, list your skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. To get a good idea of the skills required for a job, simply browse job descriptions for that specific job title. Typically, within the requirements or qualifications section, there will be many skills listed that you can copy.

Don’t be afraid to list skills that you haven’t used in a professional setting. If you have learned about them in school or if you have practiced these skills during an extracurricular activity, list them! Just make sure you are honest during an interview about your level of competency.

Example of how to list less than 10 key skills in a resume:

  • Time Management
  • Professionalism
  • Public Speaking
  • MS Office
  • Organizing and Filing

Example of how to list more than 10 key skills in a resume:

  • Leadership: Team Management, Resource Planning, Budgeting
  • Math: Data Entry, Data Analytics, Statistics
  • Professionalism: Active Listening, Office Etiquette, Professional Communication, Time Management
  • Languages: English (native), Spanish (basic proficiency)

3. Education and academic achievements

After your key skills, create a resume section for your education. List any degrees you have obtained or any degrees you are currently pursuing. If you stopped going to school before obtaining a degree, you can list the credits or hours you have completed.

For each degree, list the school, the location, your degree, your field of study and the dates you attended. You should also include academic honors and awards, such as graduating Cum Laude.

Example of how to list education in a resume #1:
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs, Florida                       August 2018
Bachelor of Science in Biology; Minor in Psychology
Graduated Magna Cum Laude

Example of how to list education in a resume #2:
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs, Florida                       In Progress
Associate of Arts

Example of how to list education in a resume #3:
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs, Florida                       Aug 2010 – May 2016
Bachelor of Arts in Art History; 200 Credit Hours Obtained

4. Classes, training and certifications

Now it’s time to list any relevant classes, training, or certifications that are relevant for your resume.

For classes, include coursework that you took through school that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Just list the class title instead of the class number, such as ECON101. You can also write a brief description that is one to two sentences long to describe the course, if it is relevant to the job you’re applying for.

For every training session and certification on your resume, list where you received the training, the type of course taken, the date you received it, and the date it expires (if any).

Example of how to list a class in a resume:
Intro to Hospitality – Introduction to the hospitality industry, including various types of career paths. In-depth lessons on the food and beverage sector, including the categories of restaurants and the different types of food service.

Example of how to list training and certifications:
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs Florida                       Valid 9/2018 – 9/2021
First Aid & CPR Certified

5. Personal or academic projects relevant to the job

You can also list personal or academic projects relevant to the job you are applying for, such as a group project at school or a neighborhood summer bake sale. You just need to relate your projects with how you are a good fit for a company’s position. Before writing a project down, think about how you will explain its relevance during an interview.

Personal project relevant to a job:

For example, let’s say you hosted a bake sale in your neighborhood and are now applying for a job as a cashier at a grocery store. You could explain that while selling your baked goodies, you practiced your customer service, money handling, and food service safety skills.

Example of how to list a personal project in a resume:
Summer Bake Sale – Hosted a summer bake sale in my neighborhood every weekend from April to August 2018. Created and handed out flyers, took and fulfilled customer orders, handled cash payments, and home baked all products. Skills learned include customer service, money handling, and food service safety.

Academic project relevant to a job

Including an academic project in a resume is straightforward. Include where the project took place, what class it was a part of, the title of the project, the date it was completed and a short summary of its purpose.

Example of how to list an academic project in a resume:
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs, Florida                       August 2018
Intro to Hospitality Course – McDonalds Restaurant Analysis Group Project
Worked within a team of 4 to analyze data on the revenue, size, and customer base of a popular fast-food chain in Florida. Created and presented findings during a course presentation. Was personally responsible for collecting data on McDonalds’ revenue and creating a PowerPoint presentation.

6. Awards and accomplishments

After relevant projects, create a section for awards, achievements, and accomplishments. You can list academic or school accomplishments, like ‘Best Presentation’ in a class or ‘Highest Grade’. You can also list any personal achievements, such as winning a medal in sports or coming in second place during a spelling bee.

For each award, achievement, and accomplishment, list where you received the award, the name of the award, the date you achieved it and a brief description, if necessary.

Example of how to list awards and accomplishments #1:
Green Valley State, Green Valley, Michigan                       Spring 2018
Intro to Hospitality – Best Group Presentation (McDonalds Restaurant Analysis)

Example of how to list awards and accomplishments #2:
Big Paws Swimming, Green Valley Michigan                       August & October 2018
100 Meter Butterfly – U18 Gold Metal

Related article: How to add academic achievements to a resume 

7. Extracurricular activities, sports and clubs

After you awards and achievements, create a section for extracurricular activities. List anything you are passionate about that shows your positive attitude and aptitude for the job you’re applying for, such as playing a musical instrument, clubs, sports and other activities. In your resume, list the relevant activity and include a brief description.

Example of how to list extracurricular activities, sports and clubs:
Piano – Has played piano for 8 years and practices, on average, 4 hours per day.
Babysitting – Babysits neighbors, 8 and 3 years old, twice a week.
Swimming – Competitive swimmer, having won multiple gold and silver medals in state competitions.

8. Volunteer work and activities

Lastly, create a section for volunteer activities. This could be formal or informal volunteering, such as serving food at a local homeless shelter or helping your neighbor rake leaves. For each volunteer activity, include who you volunteered with, what your role was, the dates and hours you volunteered and a brief description.

Example of how to list volunteer work and activities in a resume:
Coral Springs Soup Kitchen, Coral Springs, Florida                       January 2018 – Present
25 Hours – Meal Prep and Serving
Prepares, serves, and cleans up after meal service at a local homeless shelter on a bi-weekly basis.

How to format a resume with no experience

A clear, easy to read, and consistent format is essential for grabbing an employer or hiring manager’s attention, especially when you have no formal work experience.

How long should your resume be?

Your resume should be one page long if you have no experience. It is important for your resume to fill one entire page though, so you may need to add more detail in your resume or experiment with formatting so that it is a full page-long resume.

Related article: How long should my resume be?

The best fonts for a resume

Choose a traditional font like Times New Roman or Arial throughout your resume. Do not use more than one font type on the same resume.

Related article: Best fonts for a resume

The best font size for a resume

The size font you use on a resume will depend on how much you have written, as you need your content to fill up one entire page. A good place to start is using 16pt for your name, 12pt for your section headers, and 11pt for the body of your text. Experiment conservatively until your one-page resume looks complete.

The best color scheme for a resume

When you do not have a lot of work experience, it is usually better to use a simple black and white color scheme. Using plain black text on a white page is a safe choice on a resume.

The best paper to print a resume on

When printing your resume, print it on a crisp white page of printer paper. There is no need to spend extra money on fancy thick paper or colored paper.

A good resume is a consistent resume

Consistency is important for creating an impressive resume. This means all similar items on the page need to be aligned and formatted the same way. For example, if you decide to write your dates out in long-form and italicized, they need to be long-form and in italics every place there is a date on your resume. If you decide to put your school name in bold, every school name needs to be in bold.

Formatting sections on a resume

Clearly separate resume sections by formatting them in underlined and bold using a size that is one or two points larger than the rest of the text. This helps a hiring manager easily scan through your resume and pick out the important information fast.

When creating a resume, especially when you have no experience, it saves a lot of time to use a resume building template. Using a free resume template allows you to focus on writing the content without spending too much time on formatting.