What Do You Put on Your Resume When You Have Little or No Work Experience ?
We all have to start somewhere. Whether you’re a recent college grad or just got your high school diploma, don’t miss out on the job you want because you aren’t sure how to write your resume when you have very little or no work experience.
- Begin by writing a brief (2 or 3 sentences) summary of who you are and what you have to offer. We’re talking about a professional/performance summary here. Take the top requirements from the job listing and highlight any transferable skills, related coursework or volunteer time that showcases your suitability for this job. You have more experience than you think.
- Use the job listing as a guide, placing their keywords throughout your resume. Many companies have an automated resume scanning service that looks for the relevant keywords to help the hiring managers weed out those that may not be worthy of further review. Use the keywords when describing your skills and how you can bring value to this job.
- Be sure you have a professional email address in your contact information. That cute, clever email address you used in college isn’t going to work. Use something that won’t embarrass you or cause the recruiter to decide you’re not ready for a professional job.
- Most resumes start with a list of recent work experience: but in your case, your education is your most recent experience, so start with that. List your level of education and when you graduated. If you’ve taken any classes outside of school that are related to this position, list those. Maybe you went to a leadership conference with a community group or took a computer skills class at the local community college. Those are important experiences to share.
- List any volunteer work. It shows employers that you’re motivated, that you’re willing to take on extra work and that you can manage a busy schedule. Even better if you’ve volunteered in the industry at an event, helped sell tickets or answer guest questions.
- Did you win any awards or earn any certificates? If you were captain of a team or earned high honors in school, those skills show leadership and dedication. Only list these if they were significant and generally recognized achievements. Getting a “participation award” isn’t something you want to add to your resume.
- If you speak another language, that is a huge benefit in the hospitality industry. Be sure to list that on your resume.
- Take the time to develop and list the link to your professional, social profile. And don’t forget to clean up any other social profiles while you’re at it. Delete any photos and posts from days gone by when you were a “wild and crazy” party animal. The first thing a recruiter will do is look you up on the internet.
- Make sure your layout if clean, easy to read and uses a practical font. No need to create an artsy design or use a crazy letter style to get noticed. Recruiters don’t have time to decipher a complex or busy resume.
- Finally, be sure to add a cover letter when sending your resume. It’s especially important for recent grads to find a way to show how their current life experience and interests will help them get a quick start on the job once they’re hired. Address the recruiter by name, explain why you are a great fit for this position and mention something you’ve learned about the company that’s meaningful to you. Inject some personality to grab their attention.
Stuff to Leave Out
While you’re concentrating on what to include in your resume, be aware, there are certainly some things to leave out.
- Don’t list any weird or possibly questionable interests. If you’re pursuing a hobby that’s related to the industry or the job you’re seeking, you may find common ground with the hiring manager. But if you’re obsessing over your epic Halloween costume, or presiding over a local gun club, leave it off.
- Don’t write about yourself in the third person... They know it’s you, so use “I” instead of referring to yourself as “John or Sue or Bill” when listing your skills and experience.
- Don’t use really big words in an attempt to sound important. It doesn’t make you look smart – ask yourself if this is something you would actually say to someone in real life.
- NEVER LIE. This is a big one. Even if it seems like an inconsequential, white lie. When you’re found out, you’ll be fired. And don’t “pad” your resume with any exaggerations, either.
With a combination of networking, a great cover letter and a resume that highlights your skills and relevant experience (even if it’s not paid or full time); you’ll be off to a great start to getting your first professional job in the hospitality industry.