One question I’m asked a lot is, “How do I write a resume with little or no work experience?”
Whether you’re entering the workforce for the very first time or you’ve had a gap in your work history, coming up with content to put on your resume might feel like you’re jumping through hoops.
But I promise, it can be done, and I want to help you learn how to write a resume with limited experience.
It is frustrating to write a resume with limited work experience, but the good news is that you can focus on other sections of your resume besides your work experience to impress an employer and help them see that you are an ideal candidate for the job.
Before we jump in to how to do this or what those other sections are, remember that creating a resume with little or no work experience will require you to think outside of the box; since you won’t have a traditional resume heavy with work experience, prepare to brainstorm things you’ve done that demonstrate your work ethic and commitment.
Start thinking of things like babysitting, dog walking, scouts, or fundraising, or even contract, freelance, or volunteer work. Are you ready to make your resume shine?
Here are 7 sections you can add to your resume that properly showcase your skills, talents, and abilities, even if you have limited work experience.
Section 1 – A Summary
A summary is great place to showcase who you are and what makes you an ideal candidate. It’s one of the first sections an employer will look after your name and contact information.
So in a few sentences explain some of your greatest attributes and accomplishments. You’ll also want to mention why are passionate about the position, the company or the industry. Here’s an example of a summary you could use and tailor for your own resume:
Reliable, energetic, and resourceful digital marketing major with a passion for social media and content development. Dedicated to digital and integrated marketing solutions, and has proven ability to effectively direct a team. Proficient in project management, strategic decision-making, and visual communications.
Section 2 – Education and Training
If you are a student or recent graduate with less than 5 years of work experience, your education section is the flagship of your resume and should appear at the top, right below your summary.
By going into more detail here, you can really get a leg up on the other candidates. Start by listing the name of the school you attended or are attending, followed by the location.
Then list the degree or major. If your GPA is 3.0 or higher, feel free to list that next. To really make an impact with this section, add academic honors, relevant coursework, or any clubs or societies you participated in.
Section 3 – Selected Achievements
To expand on your education and training and to replace what would otherwise be your work experience section, add a selected achievements section.
Think of this as the highlight reel of what you’ve accomplished so far in life. Include a bulleted list of 3 to 4 achievements you are most proud of.
These achievements can be anything you’re proud of that show initiative, skill, or character.
No matter what you choose to include, nail down accomplishments that relate to the position you are applying for and list them in bullet-point format in a selected achievements section.
Examples of these achievements on your resume may look like the following:
- Developed personal budget that allowed for 10% income savings every month for the past year.
- Received the highest test score out of a class of 50 as a result of dedication to learning.
Section 4 – Volunteer Experience
Employers absolutely love to see volunteer experience on a resume. In fact, it’s been reported that 41% of them consider volunteer work as valuable as paid work.
This is the place to demonstrate to an employer your willingness to take initiative and get things done. If you don’t have volunteer experience, go get some now!
To add volunteer experience to your resume, start by listing the organization or cause you volunteered for, followed by a short description of the organization and the timeframe in which you served.
Include a few bullet point items that showcase what you accomplished as a volunteer. Your bullet point items may look something like the following:
- Organized a fundraising event that brought in over $500,000 in contributions to provide underprivileged students with scholarships.
- Tutored up to 12 students in math and physics, resulting in a 3-letter-grade jump on average for each pupil.
Section 5 – Special Skills
A special skills section is a great way to highlight your strengths as they pertain to the position you are applying for. Use a combination of hard and soft skills.
Hard skills are skills you have based on your education and experience. Think of skills like computer programming languages, mathematics, and graphic design. Hard skills you list may look like:
Mastery of Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
Soft skills are things that represent your personality and behavior, like decision-making, creativity, and communication. Soft skills you list may look like:
Excellent communication skills with a focus on team-building and customer relations
Section 6 – Professional Memberships or Affiliations
Listing professional memberships or affiliations on your resume is the perfect opportunity to show an employer your desire to stay current in your industry.
It also demonstrates your willingness to network and connect with others in your same field. To really stand out from the other candidates, make sure that the memberships or affiliations you list on your resume are relevant to the position you are applying for.
If you are not yet a member of a professional organization or affiliation, do a Google search to find available options in your field.
Section 7 – Language Competencies
If you speak more than one language, make sure you include it on your resume in a language competencies section. This is an impressive skill that most employers will value.
To clear up any confusion regarding your fluency with each language, you can list your proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking each language. For example, you might write your competency in one language like this:
French: intermediate (reading, speaking); basic (writing)
Just For You
Now to make sure you get it right when it comes to writing a resume with little or no work experience, make sure you take a look at The Resume Writing Masterclass. It’s a free 5-Step System to write a resume that lands you more interviews and better job offers.