Get your resume in shape
Recent graduates, those looking for their first job, or jobseekers making a dramatic career change have a few challenges to overcome in order to write a successful resume. Mainly, there’s the question of how to write an entry-level or first-job resume with no experience.
And writing an effective entry-level resume is essential to landing an interview or getting that first employment offer. Resume templates go a long way, but writing a resume is no easy task and requires careful planning.
Unlike a student resume, where the focus is largely on academic achievements, a first-job resume is geared for entry into the professional working world. An entry-level resume markets limited experience as transferable and relevant for a particular job.
What follows is a guide to writing an entry-level resume and tips to help jobseekers write a successful first-job or entry level resume.
There are a few tips to keep in mind when writing an entry-level resume or even when writing a resume for freshmen looking for their first job.
Once they are ready to write their first or entry-level resume, a jobseeker should think about what sections should be included. The content of every first resume will vary, depending on the job and the qualifications needed. But there are 4 important sections that employers always look for and that should always be included on every entry-level or first-job resume.
Most entry-level jobseekers should add an objective at the top of their resume. An objective states what kind of job an applicant wants and the industry they are interested in.
For entry-level candidates or those applying for their first job, the objective is critical, as it immediately gives a potential employer a sense as to whether or not the candidate will be a match.
An effective objective will catch an employer’s interest by confidently stating what a candidate is seeking.
A poorly-written objective will confuse a potential employer and make a resume get rejected.
The objective statement should not be confused with the summary statement, which is more appropriate for experienced candidates writing a professional resume.
The education section is also important on entry-level resumes. The education section tells a potential employer that a jobseeker has the required degrees and/or training to perform a given job.
First-job applicants can find this section especially useful to demonstrate high academic achievement and honors. These are good things to mention, as these are often correlated with excellent performance in the workplace.
Plus, if a jobseeker has little or no relevant work experience in a given industry, but has complementary coursework and extracurricular activities detailed in the education section, this can make a significant difference as to how a candidate is perceived, as transferable skills are often learned in these settings.
The work experience section can be one of the trickiest to write for first-time or entry-level job applicants. This is mainly because most entry-level candidates may have limited work experience, while first-time job applicants may have no work experience at all.
There are a couple of different ways to work around these challenges. Generally, a jobseeker should begin by considering the employer’s requirements and writing an entry-level resume with this in mind.
Choosing the right resume format can go a long way. Resume layouts are critical to ensure that a candidate’s strengths are emphasized. Entry-level candidates can choose the functional or skills-based resume format to detail any relevant experience. The functional resume emphasizes a candidate’s skills instead of the chronological development of their career.
Another option for both first-time and entry-level jobseekers is to use the experience section to list relevant volunteer experience, internships, hobbies etc. While a candidate may not possess professional, paid experience, extensive volunteer work or internships in an area suggest that a candidate is eager to transition into the working world.
First-time job applicants should also not underestimate the power of hobbies. A jobseeker interested in digital media may not have any professional experience, but if they have spent countless hours editing videos, this can be considered relevant experience all the same.
An entry-level resume should also include a list of skills that have been learned or sharpened through any kind of work or volunteer experience. These can include skills like software training, foreign languages, and any other special areas of knowledge.
First-time job applicants can also include skills on their resume. Those without any relevant work experience can list skills learned in academic, athletic, or even artistic settings, like communication, public speaking, or organization. Potential employers want to know that a potential employee has skills that can transfer to the workplace.
The format of an entry-level resume can make a huge difference as to how it’s received. This may prove less surprising considering that potential employers take a matter of seconds to scan a resume and decide to interview or not.
Jobseekers don’t have to start from scratch every time, though. Resume templates are helpful in giving jobseekers a basic resume layout to work with, allowing them to concentrate on content.
Resume builders are also essential tools in allowing jobseekers to make their resumes however they like, and to give candidates a preview of what the final product will look like. Resume builders also often have first job resume templates, which are useful for jobseekers applying for their first job.
Choosing the right resume template is critical, as it can make the difference between getting a call-back and getting rejected.
A jobseeker is not considered unqualified just because they lack the relevant work experience. Often, other factors like typos or messy formatting lead to a candidate’s elimination more than a lack of work experience. The key to landing that first or entry-level job lies in how well a jobseeker can help an employer focus on what they have done, and not on what’s missing.