Applying for your first job and don’t know where to start? This step-by-step guide will teach you how to write a resume when you have no work experience by focusing on skills and accomplishments such as internships, school projects, extracurricular activities and more.
Although students struggle with unemployment more than most, you’ll be surprised to learn you have plenty of skills and resources to land a job without work experience. And, we’ll show you how to write a resume that reflects this.
Keep reading to learn how to fill your resume work history with internships, academic experiences, school projects and extra curricular to get the entry-level job you want.
Resume example for first job
Copy and paste this free text version of one of our resume examples for a first job on any resume template. Remember to always edit the text version of the resume sample to fit your unique achievements and skill set, and for a fully personalized resume, you can always try our Resume Builder.
How to write a resume
with no experience
When you have no work experience, writing a resume consists of taking non-work-related experiences and accomplishments and framing them as valuable knowledge and skills for a specific job.
Your resume with no experience should consist of the standard sections you can learn about in our complete resume-writing guide.
On this page, however, we’ll go into detail about tailoring each resume section to fit your lack of formal work experience with the help of practical examples.
Let’s get started.
Pick a resume format for your
level of experience
Before you write your resume sections, you need to organize the layout of your resume by choosing one of the three established resume formats.
What is the best resume format
when you have no experience?
Out of the chronological, functional and combination formats, the functional resume is the best choice for applicants with little to no work experience.
You can create any of the three resume formats in our Resume Builder by easily adding, renaming and reorganizing resume sections. Plus, our builder automatically organizes your resume’s layout so all your content fits neatly into one page. Ready to get started?
Write a compelling
The first section of your resume will be the resume objective. This section is where you introduce yourself and your career goals in a short paragraph.
A resume objective should have some, if not all, of the following:
- Your current or desired job title
- Your degree or any certification relevant to the position
- What you hope to achieve in the role
- The skills that qualify you for the position
- A specific achievement that helps you stand out
Let’s visualize it with a college student’s resume objective for an internship position
Resume objective example
Although the resume objective is the strategy that makes the most sense for applicants with little or no experience, the resume summary is a more common approach these days and can work for any type of applicant.
Replace work history
with other experiences
If you’re writing a resume to apply for your first job, you don’t need to leave the work history section blank.
You can use non-work-related experiences that demonstrate you have the skills and knowledge to thrive in a particular job.
A few examples of everyday work or volunteering experience where you can develop valuable professional skills are:
- Volunteering at a nonprofit
- Manual labor (mowing lawns, cleaning pools, etc.)
- Lifeguard duty at your community pool
- Volunteer camp counseling
- Helping out at a family business
- Free lessons (art, crafts, sports)
You can list these experiences as you would with any job in a traditional work history section.
Here’s an example of how you could list volunteering experience in your resume:
Boys & Girls Club of America | New Orleans, LA
Tutor Jan 2022 – Current
- Supervised homework completion and assisted in clarifying instructions for over 12 children ages 10-15.
- Imparted math tutoring every Tuesday and Thursday, arrived on time, prepared material beforehand and graded all worksheets.
- Helped all 12 students pass their mathematics class with individual grade point averages of 90 and up.
Compensate with a
strong skills section
If your work experiences are lacking, you can keep the work history minimal and focus more on your skills, which is where the functional resume comes in handy.
When you use the functional format, the skills section becomes your resume’s primary source of information.
To build your functional skills section, you will:
- 1 Pick three or more hard and soft skills you have mastered that are either
a requirement for the job or highly relevant.
- 2 For each skill, you will add a couple of bulleted phrases describing experiences demonstrating that you have mastered the skill.
- 3 Draw experiences from volunteer work, schoolwork or extracurricular activities. Remember that the focus is on what skills you’ve developed, not where you learned them.
Check out what a functional skills section looks like for a college student applying for a barista job:
- Answered phone calls and replied to texts and emails sent to Howard, Gleason Hanes legal office daily.
- Greeted students requesting information and services from college mental health clinic. Treated them with tactfulness and followed established safety procedures.
- Awarded as Best Latte Artist in CoffeLab’s barista graduation showcase among 15 other students.
- Completed certification from CoffeLab’s barista training course with flying colors, excelling in latte art, espresso machine handling, pour-over coffee-making technique, French press and cold brew preparation.
- Led volleyball team to back-to-back state championships during my junior and senior years.
- Organized a mentorship program for computer science students to teach underserved students from minority backgrounds to learn basic computer skills and the essentials of programming.
Showcase your education
When writing a resume with no experience, you’ll want to put more effort into your education section.
You want employers to know that even though you don’t have that real-world savviness just yet, you have all the necessary knowledge and education to excel at your job.
Your education section should, at the very least, include:
- Your highest level of education
- The name of your degree if you possess higher education
- The university name
To make the education section more impactful, you may also add:
- Your GPA
- Your minor or concentration
- Distinctions like valedictorian, salutatorian, summa cum laude
- Relevant coursework
Check out this education section sample for a resume with no experience:
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Minor in Public Relations and Advertising
University of Nashville – Nashville, TN
- Class of 2022 Valedictorian
- 4.5 GPA
- Relevant coursework: Client Consulting Project: Strategic Management
Include custom sections
for additional accomplishments
Another way to add value to your job application when you have little or no work experience is by customizing your resume with additional sections that accurately reflect all you have accomplished.
Some common extra sections you can include are
- Volunteer experience
- Extracurricular activities
In our Resume Builder, you can easily add any of these custom sections to your resume, and the Builder automatically organizes them all into one page. This way, you don’t have to spend time figuring out the layout or worrying about overlapping sections.
Build my Resume
Resumes with no work experience
If you need extra help on how to write a resume with no experience, check out these resume examples for a first job.
Convince employers of your strengths with a cover letter
The cover letter is an underused resource when applying for a job without work experience.
Learn how to explain a lack of experience and showcase your professional strengths with our guide to writing a cover letter for a first job.
If you’re already dreading writing yet another document, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is easy and quick when you use our Cover Letter Builder.
Draw inspiration from our best cover letter examples for 2023, and get a fully personalized, AI-generated cover letter that’s legit and done in minutes!