Everyone has to start somewhere: that’s something you want to keep in mind if you’re entering the job market for the first time. Even the most powerful Fortune 500 CEOs were where you are now: a job seeker with no formal work experience. The key is to make sure you choose the best resume format for your situation.
When You Have No Experience, Highlight Your Skills
While most of us are used to seeing chronological resumes where an applicant lists each job in order from most recent to longest ago, the best resume format for someone without a job history is a functional resume. Rather than forcing you into a blank list of nonexistent jobs, this gives you the opportunity to talk about the skills you’ve obtained through other means that make you a strong candidate for the position.
What to Include When You’re a No-Experience Job Seeker
Whether you’re entering the job market at 16, 20, or even older, life has given you more experience than you think. Consider the skills that are needed in the job for which you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying for a retail position and, during high school, you sold candy or other fundraising materials, this means you have experience with sales, customer service and likely inventory control as well. The best resume format allows you to highlight these skills, even if you weren’t paid for your time.
Though many people still start a resume off with an objective, stating what position they’re seeking, it really isn’t necessary and often looks like filler. It’s assumed that your objective is to get the job for which you’re applying, and the best resume format for first-time job seekers goes immediately to the list of skills. Similarly, with privacy concerns being more rampant now, some people opt to leave their street address out of their resume. This is acceptable, but be sure to include a correct phone number and email address (you would be surprised how many people don’t).
Formatting for No-Experience Job Seeker Resumes
Your resume is there to get you noticed; it won’t get you the job. The first rule is to make sure it presents an attractive appearance to the person on whose desk it lands. Don’t crowd it with wide margins and dense paragraphs. Stick instead to short statements, bulleted lists and anything else that is likely to stand out to someone whose eyes are just skimming your resume.
Whenever possible, you should concentrate on listing your accomplishments rather than duties or responsibilities. Saying you were responsible for your church’s food drive, for example, is all well and good. Describing how you raised a specific number of pounds of food or how you exceeded the previous year’s results by 10 percent is going to sound much more impressive.
A few other tips for the first-time no-experience job seeker:
- Include your college information, but not high school, unless you’re still there.
- Age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, hobbies and other personal information don’t belong on your resume.
- The phrase "references available upon request" should be left off. It’s old-fashioned and seen as filler.
For More Information
Few tasks can seem as daunting as getting your first job. Take a deep breath and remember that everyone else was in your position at some point in life. For more help with building that first resume, you may want to check out LiveCareer as they offer helpful tips and tricks regarding the best resume format to set you apart from your competition.