There’s no doubt that work experience counts a lot when you’re looking for a job, especially when you’re writing a resume. But what can you do if you have little to no practical experience in your chosen field?
First of all, don’t give up. Writing a resume that gets results can be done even without work experience.
One good option is to use an online resume builder that can help you quickly design a professional and smart template. Yet, it’s still important to know how to work around little to no work experience in practical terms.
In our guide below, we’ve looked through the key ways to organize all your info so that your lack of work experience won’t hold you back.
No Experience, No Problem?
Work experience is your resume’s main selling point. There’s no getting around that, but there are ways to make it so that you’ll still be in contention even if this area is lacking.
Your resume is tenacious and can be modified in many ways that will keep you in with a chance. Not only that, but depending on your educational and previous working background, there are lots of things you can include to patch up the gaps.
We’ll take a look over these in the sections below.
What Should My Resume Focus on Instead?
Your resume has lots of sections that can sell you just as well as your work experience section alone.
First of all, there is the resume summary. This short blurb at the beginning of your resume is perfect for telling the reader why you’re the person to pick.
The summary can be used to highlight your skillset, a little about your motivation, or provide some explanation as to why you lack experience. For example, if you’re newer to the job market or you’ve been out for a sabbatical, or you’re changing careers.
Additionally, your skills section can pick up a lot of the heavy lifting your work experience section would usually manage. In many careers, skills matter as much as, if not more than, your hands-on background.
Look back over your career and education so far for inspiration. Did you do something that demonstrated positive communication skills, good organization, or leadership? Most employers will want to hear about that.
Last but not least, let your education carry a bit of the weight. Any eye-catching resume needs a fully-fledged education segment, and if you have any especially useful qualifications, this can be of great use for you.
What Can Fill In For Conventional Work Experience?
Did you know you can still use a work experience section on your resume even if you don’t have much background in your sector?
There are a few ways to have experience in your target sector without having worked in it formally.
This doesn’t mean any work experience can fill the gap, but there are many ways to show that you’re worth hiring.
A few of the details you can add instead of hard work experience in your sector include:
- School or college projects
- Volunteering experience
- Non-relevant work experience in other sectors
Obviously, in a perfect world, you’ll try to tailor everything for the job in question. This would typically involve cutting older, more unconnected work experience.
That said if your only real work experience is waiting tables or working in a fast-food restaurant, that can still be used to show you’re a reliable worker. Making the most of your transferable skills in other positions is the best trick to keeping recruiters interested in this case.
SWITCH UP Your Format
There’s more than one way to organize a resume. This gives you a few options to choose from.
Different resume formats highlight different types of expertise. There are three commonly used examples which include:
- Reverse-chronological: best for highlighting experience.
- Functional: best for highlighting skills.
- Combination: Good for highlighting both experience and skills equally.
In a normal scenario, a reverse-chronological resume would almost always be recommended. However, in this scenario, you can change things up a bit.
This is one of the few cases where a functional resume may work better for you as it doesn’t rely heavily on conveying your work history.
The same can also be said about combination formats. This might be a better choice if you’re able to leverage some previous practical experience when targeting specific jobs on your search.
Don’t Skimp on the Design
Your resume can still look great even with a lighter work experience focus. To get the best from your resume, you’ll need to ensure that:
- It’s easy to read
- It’s tidy and organized
- It’s just long enough (about 1 page)
Making things easy to read isn’t too tricky. This can be done by breaking down the key sections into relevant one-line bullet points and choosing a nice clear font.
Getting your organization sorted is also a cinch. Using clearly marked sections arranged over 1-2 columns will help keep everything organized and easy to skim-read. Using a resume builder can help speed up this process.
Also, focus on keeping all your details down to one page. Extending to 2 or more pages is a common mistake you won’t want to make.
Keeping it to just a single sheet will help the recruiter quickly pick out your most hirable details from the page and draw attention away from any lack of experience.
Takeaway: Draw Attention to Your Proven Strengths
The ultimate goal of a resume is to provide a review of your core strengths. This is still the case even if you lack a good amount of work experience.
As we’ve seen in the examples before, you’ll need to be clever with how you draw these from your life experience, but there is plenty you can do.
Most of this will be shown through your skills and education sections. This will help draw attention away from the hands-on knowledge that you’re lacking and demonstrate that you can still deliver the goods for the role in question.
About the Author: Communication and Public Relations Manager at Resume Coach, A lover of communication and interpersonal relationships, Tina Morris helps the online CV and cover letter creation platform to become a reference in the US market for recruitment and document design