Whether you’re a recent college graduate or a career changer, writing a resume with no relevant work experience can be challenging and discouraging. You might feel your chances of getting an interview are slim to none. However, many people have been in a similar situation and landed their dream jobs. So rather than think the odds are against you, here are tips for writing a resume if you have no relevant work experience.
1. Don't skip the career objective
Some people don’t include a career objective on their resumes. This section isn’t a resume requirement. However, if you don’t have relevant work experience, a career objective provides a snapshot of your skills, character and personality. This section tells employers why you’re the right person for the job, and how your skills can benefit their company.
The truth is, you only have a couple of seconds to wow employers. And if you feel you have no relevant work experience, you need to start with an impressive career objective statement. In two or three sentences, state the position you’re applying for, why you’re qualified for this position, and how you can benefit the company.
2. Sell your skills
Under your career objective, you’ll need a section highlighting your professional skills and qualifications. Here is where you’ll expand on what you wrote in the career objective. Make sure you read the job posting carefully. The employer no doubt included specific keywords in the job description. You need to use these keywords when describing your qualities. For example, if you’re applying for a staff writer position and this is your first time applying for a writing job, you’ll need to mention skills employers look for in a writer — but only if you possess these skills. These might include, good organizational skills, excellent time management skills, an ability to meet tight deadlines, superb verbal and written communication skills, an ability to take constructive criticism, etc. If you don’t have work experience, you’ll have to compensate with skills and knowledge.
3. Expand your education section
If you don’t have relevant work experience, your resume should include any and all education that can show you’re qualified for the position. This includes relevant degrees, but also one-time courses, seminars or workshops you’ve taken. Include the names or titles of courses and seminars. And if you’re a recent grad, include your grade point average and any honors or awards received.
4. Pull from non-relevant work experience
Even if you don’t have relevant work experience, you might be able to include duties from previous jobs as experience, although your old job was the complete opposite of the job you’re applying for.
Let’s say you’re applying for a job as a staff writer. This may be your first time applying for a writing job, and maybe your past jobs only involved general clerical work. Although your previous jobs didn’t involve writing articles and columns for magazines, you probably used your writing skills on a regular basis. Maybe you wrote and proofread memos and other documents for your employer. This work experience counts and it can give you an edge when applying for a new job.
It’s possible to get a job with no relevant work experience, but you’ll need to sell your skills and make sure your education shows you’re competent and able to get the job done.