We all gotta start somewhere, right?
I remember when I was applying for my first job ever. And this was back when we actually printed off resumes, put on our Sunday best, and actually applied, in person for jobs.
I was rejected more times than I can count.
And I was always rejected because I had no experience. Well how do you get experience if you can’t get hired, to get the experience!? ARGH!
In this video, I’m going to guide you through writing your first resume ever. You’ll want to watch the whole thing, because I will take you step-by-step through building your resume. Upcoming and recent college and university grads, current students, freshers – I’m looking at you guys.
Having no experience can feel like a big obstacle to landing your first job, because it often is.
But what you need to do in order to kick off your career, is to start embracing your schooling, studying, projects, and volunteering as the experience.
In an ideal world, you’d also have had an internship or co-op, but all is not lost if you’ve never had them.
When you are creating your resume, it’s your job to showcase your potential for the job you’re targeting. Which brings me to my first point…
This isn’t a step just for the experienced, it’s also for you.
Before you do any resume writing, you need to be clear on what job you’re targeting.
You might be saying “Well, Kamara, I’ve never done the job before so how do I know if I want to do it,” that’s where career fairs, networking, and informational interviews come in. That’s for another video though – we’re talking resumes today.
The reason it’s so important to have a clear idea of the job you want, is because that helps inform what you write on your resume, so that it makes sense to your target employer, and makes sense in the context of your target role.
After reading your resume, we want the reader to have a picture in their mind of you in that job at their company.
So assuming you have a clear idea of what you’re targeting, let’s talk about what you’ve done in your university, college, or school career that’s nearly experience.
Unofficial (and Official) Experience
Now that you’ve identified what job you’re going after, you need to think about the experience, you already have and how you can make it make sense to your target direction.
If you’ve watched prior videos, I talk about the 5Rs for making experience make sense in the context of a new target role, or in this case, our first job ever.
These 5 Rs are to:
Reframe or mold accomplishments so that they are
Relevant to your target employer
Relate to your target job
Reinforce the skills you have started learning and are desired in your target role
And resonate with the target employer. Speak their language basically.
So when thinking about your near experience, take stock of:
Key projects that demonstrate the skills required of you in your target job. Perhaps you did these projects in school, in some cases you might have even had a client you were working with as part of your program.
These projects could also include self-directed projects or passion projects that you initiated on your own. These count too.
For example, I wrote a resume for a recent grad who really wanted to work for NASA or SpaceX and they dabbled in a lot of STEM projects which they thought were just for fun, but in reality, they were very much applicable experience which we highlighted in their resume.
Volunteering and Community Leadership
Are you targeting software developer roles, and you just happened to be one of the organizers of your school’s Hackathon?
Are you going after an accountant role and brought in a speaker from your nearest CPA chapter to give a talk on a career in accounting?
This is great experience!
Don’t ever assume that because work is unpaid, that it is unworthy of making it on your resume.
Internships and Co-Ops
So this is real life work experience. Don’t let the label fool you.
If you’ve had an internship or co-op, then you aren’t in a no work experience situation.
With internships and co-ops, you need to highlight not what you were responsible for, but how you created positive outcomes.
How did you support your supervisor or sponsor?
How did you make a difference for them? What was it specifically?
How did you improve a way of doing work?
What did you build during your internship or co-op? What did it enable for the company or clients?
The possibilities of what you accomplished in your internship or co-op could be endless. When thinking about
Actual Jobs (That Aren’t In Your Field)
Some of you may have even had jobs, part-time or full-time, while you were studying. First, I applaud you. In order to pay for my schooling, I worked part-time through high school and college, full-time in university, and I know how tough it can be.
But this also shows how much you’re able to handle.
It also shows you have skills.
I believe that every skill is transferable. A skill doesn’t only have its place at one organization.
So with that said, similar to highlighting accomplishments from internships, co-ops, and projects, I want you to put yourself in your future employers’ shoes and think about “what skills did I demonstrate in my part-time job, that are desired or required in my target job?”
So let’s say you worked at Tim Horton’s while going to school, and you’re targeting a role in Data Analytics that’s totally unrelated to what you did at Timmy Ho’s…or is it totally unrelated?
At Tim Horton’s, you collaborated with a team. You’ll need that in Data Analytics. Maybe highlight an accomplishment about how you helped your team work more effectively.
You served customers. In Data Analytics, you’ll have a customer, likely an internal stakeholder. Maybe highlight an accomplishment with outstanding feedback from a customer, or how you ranked in customer satisfaction if that was measured.
So many possibilities.
So now that we’ve covered the thinking and preparation behind writing your first resume or a resume when you have no, or little, experience, let’s dive into building an actual resume.
What I really want to show you in building this resume is that you do not need a template, and I would actually strongly discourage using a template. You can view my video on templates which I’ve linked in the description below.
Instead, you can build the structure, or what I like to call, the resume bones, yourself, in Microsoft Word, very easily.
Now make sure you go to the video to be guided step-by-step so that you can create a resume that you built with your own two hands. A resume to be proud of!
Just to recap, don’t stress so much about not having experience. We all do start somewhere.
How will you be changing your resume after you watched this video? How are you feeling about searching for your first professional job? What questions remain as you do search for your first job? Tell me anything and everything in the comments below!