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

    5 Career-Killing Facebook Mistakes

    Facebook might be a great way to show off those cute pics from your vacation -- but your page isn’t so great if it hurts your career.
  2. Investing

    How To Create a Winning Elevator Pitch

    Whether you are talking to potential investors, partners, customers or employees, the skill of being able to concisely summarize your business is critical.
  3. Personal Finance

    Top Universities for Getting an MBA Abroad

    Going abroad for an MBA can add cachet when it comes time to get a job.
  4. Personal Finance

    Five Things To Avoid at Your Next Interview

    Do you have an interview coming up? Avoid these five mistakes and leave a lasting impression on your potential employer.
  5. Personal Finance

    6 Reasons To Get Your MBA Abroad

    Given the number of high caliber business schools outside the United States, it may make sense to venture overseas for your MBA. Here's what you can gain.
  6. Personal Finance

    Insider's Guide To The Top U.S. Business Schools

    The best business school for you depends on your skills, career goals and interests. We help future MBA's make a more informed choice.
  7. Personal Finance

    10 Habits of Successful People

    10 of the most-often cited habits of people who have enjoyed success in business and in life.
  8. Savings

    5 Ways To Be Irreplaceable At Work

    Companies most value five certain behaviors, and the employees who exhibit them establish themselves as essential to an organization.
  9. Economics

    What Does a Relationship Manager Do?

    A firm’s relationship manager works to maintain positive relationships with its customers and partner firms.
  10. Personal Finance

    10 Tips for Strategic Networking

    Learn the rules of networking so you can operate like a pro. After all, maintaining a strong network is essential in today's job environment.
  1. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. 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 >>
  3. 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 >>
  4. 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 >>
  5. 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 >>
  6. 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 >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Ex Works (EXW)

    An international trade term requiring the seller to make goods ready for pickup at his or her own place of business. All ...
  2. Letter of Intent - LOI

    A document outlining the terms of an agreement before it is finalized. LOIs are usually not legally binding in their entirety. ...
  3. Purchasing Power

    The value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy. Purchasing ...
  4. Real Estate Investment Trust - REIT

    A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges ...
  5. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  6. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
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!