Careers, and how to get one when you have no work experience

The prospect of writing a resume can make even the most seasoned professional queasy. It’s even worse for you if you have just recently graduated from school and have little or no professional experience yet. Under these conditions, how can you make your resume rise above the rest to attract the recruiter’s positive attention? Here are five ways to minimize your lack of professional chops and maximize the skills you have accumulated:

  1. Make your email address work for you. Everything about your cover letter and resume must, with laser accuracy, pinpoint your interest in a specific profession and a particular job. Since your email address is one of the first facts about you that a recruiter sees, make it count. Choose an address such as or If your first choice is already taken, add details such as your area code, zip code or city name.
  2. Include a target job title. Put it immediately after your contact information at the top of your resume. It will focus your reader’s attention on the exact job you want. Furthermore, it will make your document more discoverable in databases and give you a theme to focus on throughout the rest of the page.
  3. Instead of including an “Objective” statement, replace it with a “performance Summary.” This follows naturally from your target job headline, highlighting your unique skills and explaining why you are the ideal candidate for the position on offer. Remember, it’s all about showing the employer how you are the perfect choice to meet his needs.
  4. Look carefully at the job posting and match your employment experiences to it. Use the employer’s wording as much as possible and show how your jobs helped you hone the specific abilities the employer is now seeking. Remember, “work experience” can also include volunteer jobs, church work and community activism. Make the most of each and every relevant professional or quasi-professional experience you have had—as long as it pertains to the job at hand.
  5. Place important words and skills carefully. Algorithms and recruiters’ search engines place more importance on keywords that are at the top of your document. To accomplish this, craft your resume to include a “professional skills” section directly below the performance summary. In this section, place the most critical information about your work experiences and skills, both paid and unpaid. Don’t forget to include important abilities such as Internet expertise, social media savvy and fluency in computer operating systems.

As a newcomer to the professional world, your prospects of gaining a foothold might seem slim at best, but take heart. Remember, virtually everyone who now holds upper management positions was, at one time, exactly where you are today. Take the time to craft your resume in a way that shows the myriad strengths and skills you now possess, and you will have an excellent chance of getting that all-important first “real world” job.

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