Writing your first-ever professional resume is a challenge. How do you sell yourself to an employer, when you don't have any experience in your targeted field? When writing your first resume with no work experience, it's appropriate to include casual jobs like babysitting, pet sitting, lawn mowing, and shoveling snow. All experience counts – and the way you present yourself, your skills, and your assets to a hiring manager begins with a strong resume.
Writing a First Resume
To get started, review information on the different parts of a resume and what is included in each element. It’s a good idea to review high school resume examples, to give you an idea of what is appropriate. Even if you've never held a formal job, you still have life experience that's applicable to the job search. Don't forget to look at volunteer work, civic groups, and youth organizations (for example, the Scouts or 4-H). The skills you have developed doing these things have given you valuable experience that will impress employers.
Writing your first resume can seem intimidating, but if you take it step by step, you will be able to put together a document that will highlight your abilities and show the hiring manager that you’re worth calling for an interview. The bottom line is that you actually have a lot more experience than you think you have.
How to Get Your Resume Noticed Even When You Haven't Done Much Yet
Start by mining your life experience and academic achievements to show that you'll be an asset to the company, despite the fact that you don't have any related job titles to show off at this stage in your career.
Take the skills you have, and show how they translate into success where you choose to apply them. Include volunteer experience, school achievements, sports, and clubs and organizations you belong to.
Scan the job descriptions for the positions to which you're applying. Look for keywords that indicate what the hiring manager values in a candidate – for example, the job listing might say “successful candidate will be a self-starter who delivers on time and on budget.” In that case, despite the fact that you don't have relevant work experience in the same field, you can get the hiring manager's attention by being sure to include (and emphasize) projects that you've managed, such as high school clubs in which you held a leadership role and had to manage both your time and the team's money.
If you start with the job listings instead of with the blank page, the hiring manager's keywords will guide you, and help you focus on which of your academic or after-school experiences have prepared you for this first step in your career.
The following is an example of a first time resume for a high school student with no formal work experience.
Cautions for Preparing a First Resume
No matter how tempting it might be to stretch the truth, lying on your resume is always a bad idea. You might make it through this round of interviews and even get the job, but you won't be able to deliver on the promises your resume offered.
Plus, you'll probably be caught – and fired.
You don't need to include the line “references upon request,” or personal information beyond your contact info, or a bunch of unrelated hobbies. In fact, there's a lot of stuff you don't need to put on your resume, even when it's your very first one.
Nothing is less persuasive than a resume full of typos and inconsistencies. Have a trusted friend or family member proofread your resume before you submit it.