Creating a Resume Without Experience

Here at the CCD, we often hear students say that they don’t have any experience yet. Students typically mean that they don’t have previous internship or job experience. However, it’s important to remember the various ways that you’ve already gained experience and skills inside and outside the classroom.

Employers and graduate schools look at the sum total of your experiences, not just your major, GPA, internships, and jobs. Research, volunteering, projects, study abroad and travel, leadership, student organizations, athletics, and fellowships are also valuable experiences.

At first, your resume will include your high school experiences. As you have new experiences in college, you’ll update your resume and remove high school items to make room. Keep in mind, you want a single-page resume so that it’s easy for your reader to see quickly and clearly how your background aligns with their needs.

Here’s a few things to consider when building your resume:

Course and/or personal projects: You can add projects that have been substantive and demonstrate relevant knowledge and skills. These can be formatted similarly to other experiences on your resume with supporting bullet points that highlight the steps taken and outcomes. You can also list 3-6 relevant courses under your “Education” section.

Student organizations: Once you’ve found student organizations that you enjoy, look for leadership roles and/or other ways to take on more responsibilities, contribute further to the group’s goals, and build new skills.

Part-time positions: You can add part-time positions to your resume that may not be closely related to your longer-term career goals. Focus on the transferable skills, like communication, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, that you want to communicate to your reader. For example, a student who waited tables and took orders might write, “Developed excellent customer service skills at most popular restaurant in town; served 100-200 customers per shift and earned up to $150 in tips daily”.

Skills: In a “Skills” section, you can add languages, computer programs, tools, techniques, etc. Be sure to include your proficiency in the languages listed. If you’re not sure what skills might be relevant to add, take cues from the skills and qualifications included in the position description.

As you reflect on your experiences, think about the knowledge and skills you’ve gained; that’s really what employers are looking for. Consider how your background relates to your target (the internship or job) and make it easy for your reader to see that you’re a match for the opportunity.

Lastly, remember that your resume is a living document. Seek out opportunities to continue building your skills and exploring areas of interest, and update your resume as you add new experiences.

Get started by exploring resume resources on our website and blog. We’d also recommend you take advantage of VMock, an online tool that will analyze your resume in 30 seconds, giving you an instant and detailed assessment, including specific tips for making it better.

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