Most of us know that for a successful job hunt, you need a resume that lists both experience and education - but what if you don't have relevant job experience to list? Maybe you're a recent college graduate, a stay-at-home parent getting back into the workforce or someone looking to make a career change. Lacking experience doesn't have to kill your chances when applying for jobs. Here are six tips to give your no-experience resume a little boost, so you can get the job you want. (For related reading, be sure to check out 6 Resume Must-Haves.)


IN PICTURES: A Bigger Salary Or Better Benefits?

  1. Start with Your Skills
    Maybe you don't have that long list of impressive corporations and job titles, but everyone has skills. What are you good at? If you're not used to thinking of your own contributions in a positive light, ask your family or friends. Are you the person people look to for advice? That means you have good people skills, you're a problem solver. Maybe you always take charge at fundraisers - those are organizational skills that would make you a valuable employee. Think in broad terms for this step; you'll work on making these skills work in a resume format later. For now, just take a moment to look at your skill set, and make a list. (Learn more in Sell Your Skills, Not Your Degree.)

  2. Think Outside the Cubicle
    But none of these skills relate to any real job, you say. For your no-experience resume, think outside the confines of a job title for experience you can list. Just because you didn't get paid to perform a task doesn't mean it's any less valuable. 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 given or special projects you completed count.

  3. Be Specific
    Now comes the tricky part: you'll need to take all these skills, experiences and other things you've accomplished outside the cubicle, and distill them to fit a resume. Instead of writing long paragraphs about your fundraising activities, try to get to the point. For example: Raised $2,000 for XYZ fundraising project in two weeks, benefiting ABC school. Or: Won third place in science fair, with 200 students competing. Hiring officials 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 bottom line somewhere.

    IN PICTURES: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs

  4. Focus on the Positive
    Now that you've made a nice list of skills, with any out-of-the-cubicle experience and specifics, you'll probably wonder: what do I list first on my resume? Start with your strongest asset. Did you just graduate? List your education first. If you're lacking both education and experience, start with a listing titled "Qualification Summary," and list your list of accomplishments from step one, two and three above. Focus on the positive; you have lots to offer, even if you don't have the 9-to-5 title to show for it. (Find out more about improving your resume, read 7 Ways Your Resume Dates You.)

  5. Add Personality
    If your resume feels a little skinny, add a section titled "Interests and Hobbies." You may feel like that's not relevant to the job, but it shows what kind of person you are. Use your cover letter to add some personality to your application, as long as you keep your letter and resume professional - don't add your scrapbooking samples or photos of your pets. You never know: your hobby may just make a personal connection with a hiring official.

  6. Volunteer
    So what if your resume is still not getting you the job? Consider volunteering. There's no paycheck, but the career benefits can be great. If there is no volunteer position like your desired job, look for tasks that allow you to list the skills you need on your resume, like managerial or organizational skills. Volunteering doesn't have to take up a great deal of your time, but can boost your resume and even give you new networking opportunities plus the work offers fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment while you're waiting to land a paying job. (For more on networking, see 4 Career Networking Tips That Work.)

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

For the latest financial news, check out Water Cooler Finance: The End Of The Recession.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Small RIAs: How to Level the Playing Field

    In order to compete with larger firms, small RIAs have to get a little creative. Here are a few ways to kickstart growth.
  2. Taxes

    Top Tips for Minimizing Taxes on Severance Pay

    A look at the top ways to lessen the tax burden on severance pay.
  3. Retirement

    These Are the Top Jobs for Retirees

    Learn some of the best jobs available for retirees who want to stay busy. These include retail, driving, call center work and tutoring.
  4. Personal Finance

    8 Profitable Majors For The College-Bound In 2015

    Choose your college major wisely to justify the rising cost of higher education. Here are 8 majors that lead to good jobs and high salaries.
  5. Professionals

    Scholar vs. Entrepreneur: What's Your Calling?

    You don't need a bachelor's degree to launch your own company. But which path — school or entrepreneurship — offers a better start to your work life?
  6. Personal Finance

    8 Reasons Why Valued Employees Quit

    Salaries are important, but retaining top employees requires more than just providing competitive pay.
  7. Professionals

    How Advisors Can Minimize Their Own Risks

    Risk management is important in any enterprise. But when it comes to the financial advisory business, the stakes are higher.
  8. Personal Finance

    Top 5 Ways to Retain Your Best Employees

    You need to think beyond salary to make the most talented people want to stay on for the long term.
  9. Professionals

    The Financial Advisory Business: More Women Wanted

    It's no secret that women are underrepresented in the financial advisory business. Here are some reasons why and what's being done about it.
  10. Professionals

    Why Women Choose Women for Financial Advice

    Women often prefer female financial advisors because client and advisor can relate to each other on a variety of levels.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    A federal law designed to ensure equal pay for all workers, regardless ...
  2. Age Discrimination In Employment ...

    A federal statute protecting "certain applicants and employees" ...
  3. Society of Actuaries (SOA)

    The SOA is a professional organization for actuaries in the U.S., ...
  4. Networking

    A process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas ...
  5. Credit Business Associate - CBA

    A designation awarded to those who show mastery in financial ...
  6. Unsolicited Application

    1. In insurance, this is a request for life insurance coverage ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    The asset management industry has a variety of different career paths. Depending on what asset management area you would ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Other than accounting, what does a corporate finance job involve?

    While a corporate finance job almost always involves accounting in some capacity, there are many additional job duties and ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What qualities are necessary to be an effective member of the c-suite in a publicly-traded ...

    Several qualities are needed to be a member of the c-suite of a publicly traded company. The c-suite is business jargon term ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Which professional athletes are on pace to join Michael Jordan as billionaires?

    Michael Jordan is perhaps one of the most well-known and richest athletes in the world. However, two notable athletic giants ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!