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In my experience as a recruiter, career counselor, and professional resume writer, there’s no such thing as “no experience” — even for recent graduates and current students.
There’s plenty of other ways to fill space on a resume aside from listing paid work experience. Furthermore, if you’re applying for an entry-level job, it’s expected that you’ll have a slight if not non-existent job history. In fact, having less experience often works in the favor of entry-level candidates–since they’re viewed as open, ambitious, hungry, and above all else trainable employees.
Nevertheless, here are some ideas to fill an entry-level 1-page resume with more than just action verbs:
Start with this section first, making sure the degree/certification you received is front and center. Then list relevant coursework, key projects/papers, commendations from teachers, research, on-campus memberships, event contributions, honors, awards, scholarships, sports (intramural, varsity, junior varsity), unit load (if impressive), and jobs used to help pay your way through school. And that’s just off the top of my head.
Even if all you did was sit in the classroom, you can list coursework, theses, and favorite classes/projects.
Admittedly this section may be quite lean but don’t forget to list internships, volunteer work, hourly jobs, and non-paid tasks such as childcare, elder care, contributions at a friend or family member’s business, or assistance to a teacher.
Even unrelated, unpaid work, at the very least will show you have a solid work ethic and are eager to learn new things and support others.
Always include a list of soft skills such as Dependability, Good Listener, Punctual, Dedicated, Reliable, Meticulous, Organized….
These words will help inject your personality into the resume. Remember, when hiring people are trolling for an entry-level professional, they’re most interested in finding someone who is dependable, committed to helping the organization, and willing and able to learn new business processes and featured products.
For recent grads these days, it’s almost a no-brainer to include computer skills but you should still make a list. The most commonly sought-after skills are Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook), PC and Mac Skills, and sometimes Adobe Creative Suite (Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign). But don’t forget to include database knowledge, typing speed, and any industry-specific software skills.
If you’re actually pursuing a position in technology, this section may be one of your biggest. Go crazy; just use subcategories to break up extremely long lists.
This list should often go at the bottom of the resume since it’s more about what you’re looking for than about what the employer needs. Nonetheless, list your genuine interests related to your target job and target field.
In doing so, you’ll attract like-minded people. Also, should you land a job that aligns with your interests, it’s inevitable you’ll do well, impress people, and advance more quickly and deeper into areas you’re passionate about.
That should get you started. Again, there’s always something to say. And Congrats to you for embarking on a new career.
I love working with recent graduates and people in the midst of life transition. My background in Career Counseling really comes in handy, in this regard.
If you’re looking for some ideas, have a look at some easy-view resume samples here.
Or just give me a ring so I can help you realize just how much you have to offer.