When you’re ready to start your job search for the first time, you might feel as though the deck is stacked against you. With limited work experience, or perhaps none at all, you’ll need to craft your resume so that it effectively applies your education and life experiences in such a way that they are relevant to the job you are looking for. Let’s go over some tips and tricks that will help give you the edge you need be successful in your job search, even if you have no prior work experience.
Your Summary Statement
This section is typically featured first on your resume. Your summary statement should be a small paragraph, around three to four sentences, and it should act as a sort of “hook” that summarizes your experience and how it can bring value to an employer.
If you have no work experience, your summary statement should include a bit about your education, along with any skills you gained that you feel are relevant. For example, you could say you have excellent written and verbal communication skills, or that you are skilled in managing your time. These are called “transferable skills,” and will show an employer that you will be confident in speaking with customers, or dealing with a fast-paced environment. Below is an example of a typical summary statement.
Graphic Design major with a BFA from the Pratt Institute. 4+ years’ experience in using Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design, and After Effects. Excellent written and verbal communication skills, adept at managing time while working on several projects simultaneously.
The above format can be reworked to show experience in just about any field, as long as your education is relevant to the job you are applying to. You can also tailor your summary statement to be specific to each job you apply for. Take the above summary for example; if the job requires the applicant to perform web design, they may want to emphasize their experience with After Effects.
Use Your Internship
This might go without saying, but an internship can do wonders if you have no prior work experience. Many companies offer internships to both students and recent graduates, so even if you’ve just completed your degree you could still get one. If you had an internship that was directly applicable to the job you are applying for, you may list it in your summary statement and include all the relevant skills in your experience section on your resume.
In the absence of any work history, an internship is the next best thing. It will show employers that you’ve got hands on experience in your field, and it is very simple to determine and thus include your skills and accolades from said internship on your resume. In the event you are unable to get an internship, you could try using a different resume format known as a “Functional Resume,” which we have talked about previously. Just make certain that the functional format will work best for your unique situation if you’re going to try and use it.
Engage in Thought Leadership
This one is a bit unorthodox, but can be extremely helpful if you lack work experience in your field. If you regularly engage with companies or individuals in your field through the use of social media, especially if you post education material with regards to your field, you can include certain aspects of your interactions in your resume.
For example, you created a post about emerging trends in the field of software development and how these trends could have a long-lasting impact on the industry as a whole, and it received numerous engagements from other professionals or company pages; this can show an employer that you possess a higher knowledge of the field than your limited experience suggests. You can include links on your resume to such exchanges in the absence of hands-on experience, and better yet – such examples are quantifiable.
Taking this idea further, if you have a blog, vlog, or a podcast that details your field, it would be extremely helpful to include such material on your resume. A word to the wise, though – be extra careful what types of social media or video content you share with prospective employers, as controversial topics or exchanges will almost always eliminate your candidacy.
Know Your Limits
In time you will gain experience and hone your skills, which will allow you more flexibility in the range of jobs you apply for; however, when you’re just starting out you should focus on entry-level positions that require little to no experience. The reason for this is simple: you want to apply to jobs you’re likely to get in order to mitigate rejection emails as a result of your limited experience, as receiving constant rejections from job postings you’re not qualified for will be very frustrating and can even deter you from working towards the career you really want.
Remember, this is your first rodeo. On your second and third rodeos, you’ll be able to say “this ain’t my first rodeo,” so, you know…well… I just wanted to say rodeo a bunch of times. The bottom line is to remain positive despite any rejections you might receive. This happens to the best of us, so try to see rejection as a stepping stone towards your goal; sort of a necessary evil, if you will.
Lastly, be professional. Take extra care when crafting your resume so that you come off as someone who is dependable, reliable, motivated, and driven. Take examples from others and use the above advice while making it your own. Even with a lack of experience, you should be able to find a great first job with a little bit of effort.
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