If you are trying to land a job and have a resume with no experience, don’t lose heart. You can still create a powerful document that will make your interviewer sit up and take notice. Here’s how.
1. Change Your Socks
Write your resume with the reader in mind. Get inside her head and slip on her socks and shoes. (I hope she’s a big lady – I wear size 12.) Think about what business the firm is in and what they might be looking for. Don’t be afraid to invest some time digging around their website and/or use social media. Look for keywords that describe what this company holds most important. Just for fun, I did a search on “Google Jobs” and I learned that they are looking for people who can:
- Take on Challenges
- Be unprecedented
- Live on the edge a little
- Have drive
- Be the bridge
Get these key words from your target company’s website and/or literature and build your resume around these key phrases. Don’t worry….I’ll show you how in a minute. For now, just get a dozen key phrases you know will ignite and resonate with the HR department.
2. Brain Dump
You might not think you have much related experience. But I’m not sure if that really is the case. My daughter was recently putting her resume together and she faced a similar challenge. She put all her energy into school and didn’t hold a job during her 4 years in undergrad. She was anxious about putting her resume together.
I reminded her that just because she didn’t get paid didn’t mean she didn’t work. She thought about all the organizations she was an integral part of and realized she had more work experience than most kids her age.
Think about your situation. Where did you demonstrate your ability to:
- Take on responsibly.
- Inspire others.
- Show initiative and motivation.
- Bridge the gap between others to get them working together.
- Build something that wasn’t there before you got there.
- Meet a challenge in an innovative way.
Don’t worry if you lack practical experience. Many times you can get that practical experience and get paid at the same time. For now, do a brain dump of all the experiences that have made you the exact person your perspective employer is looking for. Think back to the times in your life when you’ve been able to “bring it” and write them down. Smart employers are looking for people who can solve problems rather than create them. In putting your resume together, your mission is show proof that you’ve had plenty of experience doing just that. This mindset is critical if you are trying to start a new career.
Most people but their resume together chronologically. They talk about the jobs they’ve held and the order in which they held those positions. This is the preferred method because it’s what your potential boss is used to seeing. But if you haven’t got much experience, this may not be a good option. Instead, present a skills-based resume. This is where you highlight the skill you mastered (rather than the place you worked) and talk about where and when you acquired that skill.
If we go back to the example of Google (above) we know that they are looking for a driven person who knows how to innovate. Let’s say you are putting together a resume for this company and didn’t have a ton of work-related experience in a tech firm.
In that case, one of your headings might be “Initiative”. Under that topic you would talk about one or two jobs you held in the past that highlight your abilities in that area. Maybe you’d talk about the wildly successful job fair you pioneered and managed for your senior class. Let’s say you thought up the idea and turned that dream into reality. Not only that, let’s say you made it into an institution so future students benefit from your work for years to come. Talk about that and don’t be shy. If you were this employer, wouldn’t you be interested in a person who did that? I would.
If you think about your past this way, you might have a huge competitive edge as compared to another candidate. Maybe they have a long tenure at a job. But did they do anything other than punch a clock? That’s what matters most to your future employer and that’s what you need to address.
4. Who Else?
Before you send in that resume, show it to professional people you respect. Even if you don’t know the person that well, ask for their input. Tell them what you are trying to do and show them your resume. Ask for their suggestions on how to make your presentation even more powerful. Then ask if they know someone at the target firm or at a competing firm who might give you their input as well.
This step is extremely powerful. Your objective here is to get as much targeted feedback as possible but of course there are other benefits too. By talking to other people who are in the industry, you might very well develop person relationships that could give you a significant boost when it comes to the job interview.
5. Resume….Who Cares?
At the end of the day, your resume is only a support document. It’s not going to get you a job offer. You’ll do that on your own. Business networking (as I’ve described above) is far more powerful in getting job interviews than blindly sending out resumes. Still, it’s important to have a strong C.V. as collateral to help seal the deal when interview time rolls around.
Are you intimidated a little when you think about putting your resume together? Do you think these ideas would help? If not, is there a better approach? How did you get the best job you ever had? Can you use those same techniques? Was your resume important in that process? How?
Elizabeth Heron says
I can’t help but feel like a resume with experience, no matter how good you make it, is still going to be pretty weak. I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone puts in their resume that they’re “drive” and like to “take initiative”. Is there anything anyone can honestly write that’s going to really get an employer’s attention that isn’t related to some sort of past experience in the field?