Don't let lack of experience discourage you from applying for the job you want!
If you are a student, recent graduate or entry-level applicant, it is understandable
that your experience might be a bit thin.
Lack of relevant experience is a common problem for many people entering the workforce
or even changing careers. Here's advice from professional resume writers on how
to create an effective resume, even if you don't have a lot of experience.
Where to Start: Your Summary
Make sure there's a Summary section at the top of your resume. A Summary is made
up of 2-3 sentences that describe who you are and what you can do for an employer.
It is your resume's “elevator pitch”. Since you lack experience, you will want to
highlight your skills and education in your summary.
Here's an example:
Recent graduate with BA in economics. Excellent research, time management and problem
solving skills. Highly organized with the ability to manage multiple projects and
consistently meet deadlines.
Which Skills to Include in Your Summary
From the example above, you might notice that there are several skills listed. Which
skills should you include? The answer is simple. Look at the job description or
ad. In the qualifications section of the job description or ad, you'll find a list
of skills that the employer is seeking.
If you're not responding to a specific ad or don't quite know exactly what job you
want, then take a few minutes to search job boards online. Look at 2-3 job ads for
some jobs in industries you are considering and make a list of the common skills
that appear in these ads.
Make sure that your summary includes the skills that they have listed. Of course,
only list skills that you actually have. If you don't have all the skills, then
only include the ones you do have. If you don't have any of the skills listed, you
probably should think twice about applying to the position.
Having the exact same skills an employer is looking for displayed at the top of
your resume, will give you the best chance of getting noticed by the recruiter.
Tackling the Dreaded Experience Section
For entry-level candidates, the experience section is probably the biggest challenge.
What you want to avoid is having an Experience section that is almost empty or one
that is filled with experience, like summer waitressing jobs, that are not relevant
to your target position.
The approach that most experts recommend for candidates that lack experience is
to focus, again, on your skills. Refer to the job description or emphasize the same
skills that you mention in your Summary. Then, group your experience under these
Here's an example:
Time Management Skills
- Developed and conducted surveys to measure current attitudes towards personal financial
- Evaluated reliability of online and offline information sources for inclusion in
- Met weekly editorial deadlines as Sports Editor for university newspaper.
- Managed detailed project plan to coordinate activities among team members for final
Since you may not have a lot of experience, it is important to include coursework,
class projects, volunteer work or extracurricular activities that are related to
your target job. While these may not be paid experiences, they are still valid experiences
that you can list in your resume.
You'll notice that company names and job titles are not mentioned here. That's because
these will be listed later under Work History. A resume that is structured this
way, where the experience is listed under skill or “functional” headings is called
a Functional Resume.
Since employers inevitably want to see dates and positions, include this information
in the Work History section. You've already described your experience, so you don't
need to describe what you did in each position.
Also include any internships or volunteer positions that lasted 3 months or more.
If you do not have any work experience at all, then leave this section off.
If you lack experience, the secret to writing an effective resume is to emphasize
your skills. For students, recent graduates or entry-level candidates, a functional
resume more powerfully showcases your skills and highlights your true potential
as an employee.
Highlight your skills in minutes using Resume Builder's examples and tips.
Click here to try it free.
Let a Certified Resume Writer create a professional resume for you. No writing skills
required. Email our resume writers at
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.