You know the old catch: employers are asking for 25 years’ experience when you have only 20. You need the experience to get a job but you also need a job to get experience, so it is kind of a vicious circle.
If you are a fresh graduate or an entry-level applicant, it is normal and understandable to not have a lot of experience to list in your resume. But you also need a resume to apply for a job, so how should you build it?
The best solution is to find a creative and nice way to present yourself and show your qualities. For sure you had some experiences that helped you learn something.
Here are some effective tips and tricks that will help you build an amazing resume that will stand out from a pile of resumes and will help you get the job you want.
#1. Choose a Resume Template
There are a lot of templates on the internet that can guide you to create an eye-candy and appealing design for your resume that will catch the attention of the recruiter.
The first trick to catch attention with your resume is to not choose a classic design that is used by a lot of other people. For example, the Europass format.
Everyone is using it because it is so easy to personalize your resume. But it is hard to stand out with this type of format because there are thousands of resumes using the Europass template.
#2. Summary Statement
Most resume templates have a summary statement, where you can give more information about your current situation. You can state your career and developmental goals and how you can help the employer accomplish its goals.
It should be about two or three sentences long and it should encourage the recruiter to read even further. Even if you do not have any prior job experience, you can let the recruiter know that you are motivated to learn and improve yourself.
If you do not have any job experience, then education is your superpower. Include all the details necessary about your educational level, educational degree, and the university. Remember that you should stand out with something, and education is your leverage.
Build an impressive section where you write the most important knowledge acquisitions from your college years.
And if you have not graduated it, be honest. There is no problem to write that you are in progress with education. A good idea would be to let them know the expected date of graduation.
What should you include in this section if you haven’t had a job? There is no reason to worry, here’s the trick. Experience can be acquired not only through a classic job, but also while working and not being paid for it. For example, your summer internship counts as experience.
You got to see how to work in a team, how to communicate effectively and solve problems. Think about your academic experience, maybe you have participated in a contest.
For sure you have learned something from your experiences, so list them in your resume.
#5. Volunteering Experience
Volunteering experience is similar to work experience. Why? Because most projects volunteers get to work on are about real-life problems. They want to help other students succeed in their education and career and organize training sessions for them.
Or maybe engineering or writing contests. Or job fairs. The thing is, for sure you had worked on some awesome projects while volunteering. List them in your resume and write short descriptions of the project you have been involved in.
Another resume section should be a listing of your skills. If you think you do not have any, you are wrong. Every experience you had taught you something. It developed your skillset and perspective on the world.
The most complicated and important thing is that you should include only the skills relevant to the position you apply for. For example, if you apply for an HR job, the fact that you can hold your breath for 5 minutes is not a relevant one. But conflict solving or assertive communication is important for this domain.
If you do not know how to identify your skills, then write on a piece of paper all the responsibilities you had. Analyze them and identify which skills you have developed while doing that.
Choose the most relevant ones and list them here. The skills that are appreciated at every company are time management skills, research skills, conflict management, and effective communication.
Besides this, you should be passionate about your job because you will develop both the company and yourself.
If you do not have any work experience, for sure you have completed some courses. No matter if they are online on Coursera or other websites, or offline at the university, you can list them here.
Choose the ones relevant to the job you apply for.
A recruiter will understand essential things about you: that you aim to develop and improve yourself and that you are multi-skilled. That you are a real asset and you are worth the shot.
#8. Pay Attention to Details
To stand out, you need to have a resume without mistakes. If you do not have any job experience, you need to impress the recruiter with your professionalism and desire for development. This is why you need to pay attention to all the details in your resume when you are editing it.
You should not have any grammar or spelling mistakes, nor punctuation ones. Because you are the one who is doing it, you can ask a friend or family member to read it.
They will spot any mistakes you have made easier and like this, you will avoid having a resume with typos or grammar mistakes. And the level of professionalism will be high.
#9. Use Keywords
When you apply to a job, you should firstly read the job description. You will find information that is helpful for you. From tasks and responsibilities to benefits and what is the employer looking for are pieces of valuable information.
There you will also find keywords to include in your resume. There are a lot of people who are looking for a job and recruiters do not have the necessary resources to check all the resumes.
They use an applicant tracking system that scans all the resumes and looks for keywords. Even though you might think that this is not fair, this is the reality.
So, how to do to combat this method of choosing the right resumes? Read the job description and identify the keywords.
Avoid including overused buzzwords as experienced, skilled, leadership or detail-oriented.
However, if you find them in your job description, then find a way to include them in your resume only if they describe you and your way of working.
#10. Customize Your Resume
It is nice and helpful to have a resume to send whenever you find an interesting job. However, you should always keep in mind that this is what everyone is doing.
So, to stand out, you could customize your resume depending on the job you apply for. It takes time and resources, but this is another way to maximize your chances to get hired.
So, customizing does not mean that you should choose a different design for every resume version you make. Instead, it is about the information you include in your resume.
For example, you may have a lot of skills, but not all need to be included in your resume. If you apply for a software developer job, do not include obsolete skills or ones that everyone has nowadays, like Microsoft Office. Focus on the information about you that is relevant for the job you apply to.
#11. Add a Cover Letter
Some might think that cover letters belong to the field of the past and that no one is writing one nowadays. This is false. People continue to add a cover letter to their resume, as it enriches their story.
Especially if you do not have any work experience, a cover letter will help you stand out from the crowd.
Why? Because a cover letter is used to let your personality come out and expand the information in your resume. It is the thing that can convince a recruiter to call and invite you for an interview.
And this happens also in the case when your resume is not convincing enough or if you do not have the skills necessary. A cover letter maximizes your chances to be noticed and brought in for an interview.
#12. Languages Section
The world is constantly evolving and preconceptions about foreigners begin to disappear. Globally, more and more companies are embracing a multicultural environment and fresh perspectives are welcomed. For sure you will work in an international setting, so knowing foreign languages can prove to be a valuable asset.
Add a language section and list the languages you know and your level. You may be more proficient at speaking than writing, and this is a detail to be included in your resume.
Most companies offer foreign language courses to upgrade or develop your skills.
#13. Do Not Include References
Think about one thing: recruiters spend about 5 to 7 seconds to skim a resume. So, keep the information in your resume short and simple and try to not exceed one page.
Keep in mind to skip adding references, as they will make your resume even longer. And who wants to read a resume with over 5 pages?
References are important though. So, you need to have some that recommend you for the position. To let the recruiter know, you can add a brief statement at the end of your resume and let him or her know that you can provide references upon request.
Building a resume without having a job experience can seem difficult and can prove to be disheartening. But if you follow these effective strategies, you will build a strong resume that is your business card whenever you apply for a job.
You just have to find the best way to shed a light on your extracurricular experience, skills, and education.
About the Author!
Tobias Foster is a journalist and editor with more than 5 years’ work experience at a Resumes planet. Recruitment, marketing, and business are his passion, and he has a wealth of knowledge in that field. He is a master of his craft shares his knowledge with students and multinational companies.