You actually have experience – your schooling and volunteer work is your experience!
The trick is to focus on what you have achieved, tailor it to the job you are applying for and then create a stunning resume that tells the company how your skills and experience match what they have asked for in the advert.
For practical tips on what to put on your resume when you have no relevant experience, we culled some advice from an article from themuse.com.
Relevant and transferable skills
Most resumes will begin with relevant work experience (or education followed by relevant experience if you’re a new grad). That becomes a problem when relevant experience isn’t your strong suit. But rather than waste that prime real estate on your resume on things that will just confuse the recruiter, start instead with your relevant skills.
And don’t tell me you don’t have any. There must be a reason why you think you can do this job. You might have transferable abilities from a previous, unrelated experience, or maybe you developed skills while in school doing academic projects. In any case, if you’re a career changer, try tying all your skills together with a summary statement at the beginning of your resume. New grads, pop your skills section from the bottom of your resume to the spot right under your education.
Related side and academic projects
Speaking of academic projects, it’s important to note that those are fair game and should definitely be included in your resume. The same goes for side projects that you’ve tackled outside of work or school. As long as you are clearly labeling this experience as project work, there is nothing preventing you from including it in your resume—and you absolutely should! Don’t make the assumption that only full-time, paid experiences can be on your resume.
One way to do this is to create a “Projects” section. Here, you would write about your project work the same way you would for work experience. Think about the experiences you’ve had that helped you realize your career interests. Was it a class project? Maybe you volunteered to help with something that ultimately sparked your newfound career goals—that’s experience that you can include on your resume under a “Projects” section. Format it similarly to help the recruiter understand that this, too, is valuable experience that should be evaluated when considering your candidacy for the position you are interested in.
An enthusiastic and specific cover letter
Okay, this isn’t technically part of your resume, but have to couple a resume with a strong cover letter. This is especially important if you have no relevant experience or a winding career path. Find a way to connect your passions and life experiences with the company, then explain how that will translate into you hitting the ground running once you’re hired. You’ll find that link is exactly the kind of experience employers are looking for from recent grads.
This is true for career changers, too, but you also have a little bit more experience to work with. The cover letter is the perfect opportunity for you to connect the dots between the company’s needs and the skills you’ve built across your eclectic career. Be specific here. You want to really spell it out for hiring managers and explain why your non-traditional background might even be an asset, so that when they’re done with your letter they have a good understanding of why it makes sense for them to hire you.
You may not have had relevant work experience or a showy career, but we are positive that with a little re-working of your resume, a focus on the job description and a positive-spin you can make a fantastic resume.
Hope these tips helped! Tell us in the comment box!