Modern jobseekers are under more pressure than ever before to demonstrate prior experience. The problem is that not everybody has that experience, and it can be off-putting to apply for entry level roles that ask for it.
That’s when it becomes more important than ever to create a winning resume that will catch recruiters’ eyes and encourage them to pick up the phone and give you a call. But how exactly do you go about doing that?
Here are six top tips to help you to create a winning resume without having to rely on work experience.
1. Accentuate Your Skills
Employers tend to look at your work experience to get an idea of what you’re able to do, and so you’ll want to make up for it by focusing on specific skills instead of specific job roles, like software engineer jobs. Better include both soft skills (e.g. communication skills, management) and hard skills (e.g. HTML, Photoshop) and list them in order of how important they’re likely to be for the job that you’re applying for.
2. Start a Portfolio
Even if you have no commercial experience of something, that doesn’t mean you can’t create some examples of your work that can be added to a portfolio and shared within your resume or included as a separate attachment. It can help to revisit the skills that you listed and to identify a way to apply them to a challenge – so if you listed Photoshop as a skill, create some imagery to prove it.
3. Share Your Grades
If you can’t focus on your work experience, you’ll want to focus on your academic results instead. Most employers won’t be too worried about the grades you got back in high school, but if any of them are particularly relevant to the job then you’ll want to include them. Otherwise, you’ll want to give prominence to your strongest, most recent and most relevant qualifications – and to explain how they relate back to the job that you’re applying for.
4. Share Your Vision
The potential employer may be more likely to hire you if you take the time to explain why you want to take the job and how it fits into your long-term plan for the future. In the absence of a work history, sharing this vision will at least give recruiters a good idea of what you’re all about. Remember, when you’re applying for an entry level job, most employers look for passion just as much as they look for hard skills and previous experience.
5. Include Hobbies and Interests
Remember, when you have no previous work experience, you need to put more of a focus than ever on trying to communicate your personality. A great way to do this is to share your hobbies and interests – especially if you’ve given your time to charity or helped out in your community. Include anything creative that you do, whether you keep a blog, paint landscapes or play guitar. At the same time, though, avoid including anything that could potentially reflect badly on you, and keep this section to just a short, bulleted list to make it easy for potential recruiters to read and absorb.
6. Work with Professionals
If you want your resume to really stand out, you can work with a professional writer or designer. Look through writing services reviews and get quotes from different designers to make sure that you’re getting a combination of talent and value for money, and ask for testimonials and previous examples of their work. Make sure that everybody understands what your resume is supposed to achieve before you start.
Writing a winning resume is all about relevance. Potential employers want to see that you know who they are and what they’re all about, and they want you to show them why you’re the best person for the job. That’s why it’s a good idea to tailor your resume for every different role that you apply for.
Remember, while work experience is all well and good, most companies would prefer to hire someone who fits in with their culture and who has the right attitude than someone who has the right experience. Skills can be taught, but passion can’t be imitated.
On average, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes. According to one report, work experience is the top thing that recruiters look for (67%), but cultural fit comes a close second (60%). If you don’t have one then you need to accentuate the other, which is why it’s so important for you to make your resume a reflection of yourself.
At the same time, it needs to be short and to the point, both well-written and professional. Get it right and you’ll be an employer magnet. Get it wrong and you’ll have to head back to the drawing board.
This article is written by Robert Morris. He is a freelance writer and the blog editor at the educational website AskPetersen.