5 Resume Tips for the Inexperienced


Tips for Experience-Lacking

Resumes To get a job you need a resume, to have a compelling resume you need experience if you just graduated or are early in your career a single-page resume can seem like a lot of space to fill up. Lacking experience in the industry you are trying to work in doesn’t have to kill your chances when applying for jobs. Below are ten tips to give your no-experience resume a lift so you can get the job you want. (Related topic highly recommended, LinkedIn is your resume) 1. FOCUS Do some research into the industry, specific jobs, and the skills required for that job.  Check out a bunch of similar jobs and make a list of the required skills, the nice-to-have skills, and anything else that might be relevant.  Then go on LinkedIn and review the profiles of the people in those jobs to identify the skills they have and the backgrounds they have as a template for what you need to highlight in your resume.  Make a list of skills, companies they worked for, schools they went to, and degrees or certifications they have.   Where do you have similarities with the list you created when you compare the job skill set requirements and your background? Do you share any soft skills? Now look at the profiles of the people in similar jobs; what similarities do you have with them, are they near your location? Could you meet someone in your targeted job for coffee to hear about the role and the best way to get into a similar role?  People are flattered when someone wants to do what they do and hear about how they got where they are. You should at least have a handful of similarities between your background/skill set and the role you are targeting.  If you can not list one thing that you have in common from skill sets or background then the path to entry is going to be more difficult, not impossible but will take more work. Let’s discuss the skill set piece. 2. Skills You might not have an impressive list of companies you have worked for or impressive job titles to list but everyone has skills. Sometimes it’s hard to evaluate and see your own skill sets but you got to remove your ego and focus on what you have done up to this point in your life. If you get “writer’s block” or can’t think of skills you have to take a moment and think of friends or family and what they might say about you.  You could even ask them to get the ideas flowing. Make a list of skills. Now think in broader terms from your list and tie those skills to things you have done in life, volunteering, mentoring, tutoring, babysitting, etc, and then think about responsibilities that correlate to those jobs.  Take that list of skills used in those activities and add them to your skills list.  Did you play sports? Were you a member of clubs? Make a list of things you participated in over the years and build out a list of skills you used in those programs. If you have a degree or certifications what skills were required to get that degree or certification? Did you complete projects or a thesis that you could describe or highlight a skill you learned/used to complete?  Again add those skills to your list.  Don’t worry about how to incorporate it

into the resume yet we just want to build the list right now.  We will build the list out into correlating job skills to highlight specific to your job interests later in the list.

3. Don’t Focus on the Resume Yet

Great, I have a list of skills but they don’t relate to a real job, hang-on we will get there. If you are a recent grad or early careerist you need to think outside the confines of a job title for the experience you can list. Getting paid for demonstrating a skill is not the only way to demonstrate a skill or ability.  As mentioned earlier in the blog did you work on a research project in college, or did you hold a part-time job? Even if these are not directly related to your desired job, the skills you used to perform them are often broadly similar. Take some time to make a list of any tasks or projects you performed that relate to your skills in step one. Any awards, speeches that were given, or special projects you completed should be noted and could be strong examples of how you demonstrated skills that correlate to the job you desire.    A great way to get this done quickly is to review the groups, charities, and school programs’ part-time jobs and look for people who were in the group with you or were in it in the past and review the skills they listed on their LinkedIn profile.  DON’T lie but use those profiles and other people’s writing to give in insights into skills and how they correlate to the job.  Lastly, I would recommend networking with others who share your background experiences to detail skills you developed/exercised skills and how those skills correlate to the job you are interested in.  4. Be Specific Things get a little tougher: you’ll need to take all these skills, experiences, and other things you’ve accomplished outside the office environment and distill them to fit a resume. Instead of writing long paragraphs about your fundraising activities, try to get to the point, and put them into a bulleted format for quick and easy reading.  For example: Raised $10,000 for a fundraising project in two months, benefiting a charity. Maybe you won you first place in a science fair, with 500 students competing. Hiring managers often only have time to quickly scan a resume; numbers will pop off the page. Quantify any skill you have, especially if it shows you added to the growth of a group or project somewhere. Basically, you need to highlight what the objective was, what action you took, what resulted from that action, and what you learned.  (Check out this article for more info on STAR)

Tons of people list clubs, scholarship groups, sports they played, etc which is great to highlight but to be differentiated you need to give more details.  What did you learn in those clubs? What skills did you use?  What obstacles did you overcome? How did you accomplish those goals? What are you most proud of from being in that group?  Think like a hiring manager who might not know about the club, team, or group you are a member of, why should he/she care?  5. Focus on the Positive Now that you’ve made a nice list of skills, with non-job experience and specifics, you’ll probably wonder: what do I list first on my resume? Start with your strongest asset, what skill set or accomplishment do you have that matches others in the role or industry? If those are weak correlations then list your bachelor’s degree and related certifications first. If you don’t have any experience or education then you need to get creative.  I would start by listing the skill sets that most closely relate to the job you are interested in.  Take your list of accomplishments from steps one, two, and three above. Focus on the positive; you have lots to offer, even if you don’t have the corporate title to show for it. If the page feels skimpy then add a section titled “Interests and Hobbies” to highlight the things you are interested in and describe you as a person. While this might seem like filler or unnecessary your hobby or interests might catch the attention of a Hiring Manager or recruiter with similar interests. Be truthful, if you lack education and experience and the one hobby that the hiring manager is interested in discussing with you is fake your chances of a job will evaporate quickly.  You should be truthful no matter, think fudging on your resume is OK?

5. Always Be Growing

Keep and build on the research and data you gather about the roles and industries you are interested in using those insights to guide your development as a person and professional.  If everyone in your target job or industry has a specific degree or certification then you should plan on getting that degree or certification.  Use the research, discussions, and connections you have made building your resume to create a game plan for your professional life, great careers don’t magically happen because you wish for them. Create an action plan for the next 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, 5 years, etc. Then do what is necessary to get to those goals or to put yourself on a path to get there. Your resume will grow over time with each new accomplishment that enriches your skill and abilities. 

So what if your resume is still not getting you the job? Consider volunteering or non-profit to get the skill and experience you need. There’s no paycheck, but the career benefits and skill sets you learn can be great. You probably won’t find volunteering or non-profit to match your job industries perfectly but find tasks that would allow you to list skills you need on your resume.  The skills that impact the hiring manager’s view of your ability are skills and experience managing people/projects and organizing people /projects. Managerial and Organizational experience and skills can have a fast and lasting influence on an organization, so hiring managers are always looking for them.  Most volunteering and non-profits won’t be 9-5 jobs so you have time for your part-time jobs or however you are making money.  Volunteering or non-profits provide you with even more opportunities to network and get connected with people in your industry of interest. 

The Take Away

Look for ways to shed a positive light on your skills. Remember that everyone lacked experience at one point, so think outside the corporate box for ways you can showcase the great skills you have to offer employers.