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 any previous work experience to list on your resume. There’s no need to be embarrassed about it. Whether you are a teen, a student, or have recently graduates, there are many other relevant 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 a job seeker’s resume are attitude and aptitude.
- Attitude – a positive, hardworking, and likable personality
- 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.
Here are 8 things to highlight in your resume when you haven’t worked before.
These 8 resume sections for job seekers with no experience should be written in ascending order on your resume, with #1 (professional summary) going first.
1. Professional Summary (Even With No Experience In Your Resume)
Modern day resumes call for a professional summary, rather than a career objective. Your professional summary should come immediately after your name and contact information and will include 2-3 sentences giving a broad overview of your background, interests, and abilities.
Since you don’t have work experience, your professional summary should include 1 or 2 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 – Real Resume 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 – Real Resume 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
After your professional summary, list your skills that are relevant to the positions 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.
If you have less than 10 key skills to list in your resume, you can list them in columns of 3 or 4 skills each, as seen in the first example below.
Key Skills (less than 10 resume skills) – Real Resume Sample #1
Organizing & Filing
If you have over 10 skills to list, you can break them down into categories, as seen in the following resume example.
Key Skills (if you have 10+ skills) – Real Resume Sample #2
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)
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, make sure to list that too – Just include how many credits or hours you have taken.
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.
Here are examples of how your education can be listed in a resume:
Education – Real Resume Sample #1
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs, Florida August 2018
Bachelor of Science in Biology; Minor in Psychology
Graduated Magna Cum Laude
Education – Real Resume Sample #2
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs, Florida In Progress
Associate of Arts
Education – Real Resume Sample #3
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs, Florida Aug 2010 – May 2016
Bachelor of Arts in Art History; 200 Credit Hours Obtained
4. Classes, Training & 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 positions you are applying for. There is no need to include the number of the class, for example A3004. Instead, just list the title. You can also write a brief description that is 1-2 sentences long to describe the course, if that information 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).
Here is two examples of how to list coursework, certifications, and training in your resume:
Coursework – Example
Intro to Hospitality – Introduction to the hospitality industry, including various types of career paths. In-depth lessons on the food & beverage sector, including the categories of restaurants and the different types of food service.
Certifications & Trainings – Example
Coral Springs University, Coral Springs Florida Valid 9/2018 – 9/2021
First Aid & CPR Certified
5. Relevant Projects
Have you completed any projects in school or at home that are relevant to the job you are applying for?
This could be anything from an academic group project to a summer bake sale you did in your neighborhood. As with everything else, you just need to remember that your projects must tie into how you are a good fit for a company’s position. Before writing a project down, figure out how you will explain its relevance during an interview.
Relevant Projects – Personal
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.
Here is how you would list this relevant project on your resume:
Relevant Personal Projects – Example
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.
Relevant Projects – Academic
For academic projects, it will be a little more straight-forward. Include where the project was taken, what class it was a part of, the title of the project, the date it was completed, and a short summary of the project purpose.
This is a real resume example of how you would list a relevant project from school in your resume, including the basic project information and a short description.
Relevant Academic Projects – Example
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 the PowerPoint presentation.
6. Awards & Accomplishments
This resume section is where your awards will count into your job application!
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 2nd 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 if you want, a brief description.
Awards & Accomplishments – Resume Example #1
Green Valley State, Green Valley, Michigan Spring 2018
Intro to Hospitality – Best Group Presentation (McDonalds Restaurant Analysis)
Awards & Accomplishments – Resume Example #2
Big Paws Swimming, Green Valley Michigan August & October 2018
100 Meter Butterfly – U18 Gold Metal
7. Extracurricular Activities
Do you love competitive sports? Do you know how to play an instrument? Do you regularly babysit for your neighbors?
After you awards and achievements, create a section for extracurricular activities. List anything you are passionate about, as long as it will look good to an employer.
For example, it shows responsibility that you babysit twice a week. But playing video games for 5 hours a day might not be something that you want to include (unless you are applying to be a video game tester, that is).
For each, list the activity and include a brief description.
Extracurricular Activities – Resume Example
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 Activities
Last but not least, 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.
Volunteer Activities – Resume Sample
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 When You Have No Experience
With the content in place, it’s time to format your resume. A clear, easy to read, and consistent format is essential for grabbing employer’s attention, especially when you don’t have past work experience.
Length of a Resume
When you have no experience, your resume should never exceed 1 page in length. It is important for your resume to fill 1 entire page though, so you may need to write more or play with the text size, as described later.
Don’t get too creative with the fonts. Either pick Times New Roman or Arial and use this font throughout the entire page. Never mix two fonts on the same resume.
Choosing Text Size For Your Resume
The size (or point) font you use will depend on how much you have written, as you need your content to fill up 1 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. At these sizes, if your content only fills up 50% or 75% of the page, you can scale up one or two points and see how it fits.
The simpler, the better. Don’t go crazy with colors, borders, or graphics. Plain black lettering on a white page is perfect.
How To Choose The Right Paper
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.
Consistency is key for your 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.
Sections & Formatting Resumes
Clearly define your resume sections by formatting them in underlined and bold using a size that is 1 or 2 points larger than the rest of your text. This helps a hiring manager easily scan through your resume and pick out the important information, keeping in mind that most employers only spend 6 seconds or less.
When creating a resume, especially when you have no experience, it saves a lot of time to use a resume building template. This online resume builder from Resume.com is super easy to use, and most importantly, completely free! Using a resume template really helps with getting the ideas flowing and it allows you to focus on writing the content without worrying too much about formatting.
The Traditional, Blue Skies, Heavy, and My Employment resume templates on Resume.com are perfect for people with little or no experience. Each of the resume sections can easily be swapped out, for example, you can change ‘Employment History’ to ‘Relevant Projects’ or ‘Volunteer Activities’.
Congrats! These 8 things should give you more than enough information to fill your 1 page entry-level resume.
Remember, if you end up needing more content, just write another sentence or two for each of your awards, projects, accomplishments, or activities.