No Work Experience, No Problem: What Your Resume Should Have If You Don’t Have ‘It’
Is no work experience really starting to impede your job search? Believe us, it happens to everyone at some point in their lives. Usually right around graduation day when you need to start repaying the thousands in student loans looming overhead.
We know it can seem hopeless, but you have more going for you than you think you do. In the following article, we’ll be addressing this dilemma by sharing eight things that can beef up your resume and make you an attractive candidate even if you’re thin in the “Work Experience” department. Let’s begin!
1. A Solid Objective
The objective of your resume isn’t just “to get a job because I really need the money.” You likely already know this, but what you may not know is that your objective isn’t a throwaway line that every resume “must have” while doubling as a section no hiring manager will pay attention to.
They really do read the things if the “things” are readable. What makes it readable? Well, a lot more than proper syntax, grammar, and punctuation. Your objective is an opportunity.
It’s an opportunity to show the recruiting folks that you know exactly what you’re applying for. It can demonstrate understanding, knowledge, wisdom, and ability. But to do that, it has to be very specific to the position for which you are applying.
Take some time to read through the job description. Break it down by your strengths and shortcomings. Focus on your strengths when crafting an objective. Optimize it to show them you know what you’re doing, and that taking a chance on you isn’t really taking a chance at all.
2. Student Club History
So you don’t have any work experience per se — what to do, what to do? The first place to start is with your formal interests. Those are typically illustrated by the clubs with which you are involved.
You can be involved in numerous clubs or just one. Whatever you’re “in” to, make sure it serves two functions: 1) That it’s marketable, and 2) That it fits your major. More on that in a moment.
As an active member of a club like one of these, you can ingratiate yourself to a number of companies, recruiters, CEOs, etc. But you have to be involved if you’re going to get the most distance from this into your career.
3. Special Projects You Have Worked On
Many clubs get involved in special projects that you can piggyback on to, but you don’t have to be a club member to have your own special projects that can benefit your career. The best place to start for these is a hobby.
If writing is a passion, for example, start trying to place articles with newspapers and online publications now. To do it effectively, either write what you know or write what you want to know more about. Either path will trigger rich content.
That rich content will be born from either the personal experience you have or the depth of research you bring to the table. Need to borrow someone’s expertise? See if you can interview a local expert on a topic near and dear to you and relevant to your area; then pitch it to your newspaper editor.
One caveat to special projects: it may be difficult to get others to notice you or want to pay top-dollar for you when you’re “unproven.” Never feel badly about working for free if it gives you a means of proving you’re the real deal. It always leads to better-paying work.
This reality is transferable to other industries as well. Welding, wood-working, website-building. You name it.
4. Volunteer Experience
At a loss for clubs and hobbies? Just see where you can help others in your community. These community service opportunities open doors in ways that are not always expected.
For starters, you could pick up valuable wiring or construction experience volunteering to help build a shelter for the homeless. You also might make relationships with pillars of the community who will appreciate your willingness to give back and make your town a better place.
These are the types of relationships that often lead to someone “taking a chance” on you. It can be hard to push yourself down this path when you are worried about paying your bills. But the payoff goes beyond anything you would expect and also makes you feel better about yourself.
5. Extracurricular Activities
Involved in sports, choir, band, or some other extracurricular activity we’ve yet to mention? The same rules apply for networking and opening doors.
Get out of the mindset that networking is Facebook and LinkedIn and really start pressing the flesh. Have real relationships with people, and you can end up helping each other.
Besides, extracurricular activities often involve mastering a skill. Mastering a skill of any kind is a work quality that is transferable to a multitude of professions.
6. Special Skills
Maybe you’ve spent some time perfecting a skill that few in your graduating class have. Or, it could be a skill that’s in very high demand but more based on results than degrees. (Coding comes to mind.)
Whatever your skill is, there’s probably a market for it. Look around. See where you can be useful. Then, start actively pitching individuals who may not realize they need someone like you to help them achieve their objectives.
Some college courses, particularly those in high-demand majors, are impressive in themselves. Look back over your transcript. Make note of the classes that taught you something that would be beneficial to a job. Emphasize that work when you’re putting your resume together and reaching out to potential employers.
This is where all the effort and energy of the first seven can really come home to benefit you. Throughout each of these endeavors, you will be meeting a number of people from all walks of life. Some will be peers, some instructors, some colleagues, bosses, and co-workers.
All have the potential to serve your career search well as you move further away from college and into the workforce. Keep those relationships fertile, and ask for a letter of reference or, at the very least, a willingness to speak on your behalf. Keep good notes on their most recent contact information, and you’ll always have a plethora of possibilities to put on your resume.
No Work Experience Does Not Have to Derail Your Job Search
Just because you have no work experience, that doesn’t mean you’re unqualified. Get creative with how you set up your resume, and you will see enormous possibility. If you’re having trouble getting started, read back over this list and put our suggestions into practice. You won’t regret it!
[Featured Image by Pixabay]