Writing a resume can be a big challenge for first-time job seekers. Although your work experience may be limited, we’ll tell you how to minimize the white space and fill your first resume with content that is meaningful for today’s employers.
A great resume is a job search necessity, but it won’t get you hired. If you’re lucky, your resume will buy you the opportunity to impress the employer in a personal interview. So as a first time job seeker, it’s important to maintain perspective – create a solid resume, but don’t obsess over the fact that you don’t have a ten or twenty year employment history to beef up your credentials.
The simple truth is that you can’t hide a lack of employment experience in a resume and that’s okay. Employers who are looking for candidates to fill an entry-level position are more concerned about education, skills and other criteria. But most of all, they are looking for resumes that clearly communicate your potential to be their next great hire.
What to Include in a First Resume
- Education. In the education section of your resume, you will want to include the degrees you’ve earned, starting at the high school level. Your major(s) and coursework should be discussed and you can also include your GPA – but only if it was over 3.0.
- Work History. So you don’t have any experience working in your desired industry. But you probably have worked a number of jobs before, during and after your college career. The idea is to create a work history that briefly demonstrates your ability to handle responsibilities and a chain of employment success.
- Relevant Skills and/or Experiences. Internships look great on a first resume, especially if they were held with recognized companies in the industry. In the relevant skills and experiences section of your resume you can also include any other specific skill sets, technical proficiencies (e.g. computer skills), training events or other accomplishments that directly relate to the position.
- Personal Characteristics. Many resume writers elect to create a section about their positive personal characteristics. From an employer’s perspective, the usefulness of this section is questionable, but it might help your resume stand out in a crowded field. The caveat is that you need to be prepared to provide examples of instances in which you exercised those characteristics during the interview.
What to Leave Out in a First Resume
- Fluff. Resume writers (especially first-time resume writers) are prone to filling their resumes with fluff – words and phrases that have no useful value. Instead, fill your resume with action words and concise content that has real value to employers.
- Exaggerations. Avoid the temptation to bulk up your resume with gross exaggerations or misleading statements. For example, if you managed a pizza place in high school, don’t try to pass yourself off as a gourmet industry supply and distribution executive.
- Irrelevant Skills or Achievements. Your ability to juggle seven balls at once is a certain kind of accomplishment, but you should only include it on your first resume if you’re applying for a spot in a circus.