It’s your year of firsts: First freedom. First job hunt.
Now it’s time to make your first resume.
But first things first.
It’s an uphill battle when you have a resume without work experience, like when you need a college freshman resume or some other type of undergraduate college resume.
How do you write a resume with no experience, especially when most employers want candidates with prior experience?
The road ahead is dark and full of terrors.
How do we make your resume the interview winner?
Keep your chin up, and keep scrolling down. We’ll walk through this together, step by step. You’ll soon have a great resume with no experience that will soon get you your first paycheck.
This in-depth, beginner’s resume guide will show you:
- Entry-level resume examples better than 9 out of 10 other first job resumes.
- How to write a resume with no job experience that will still land you interviews.
- Tips and examples of what to put on a resume with no experience.
- The best way to describe your skills and achievements on a resume without experience.
- How to create the best possible cover letter with no experience.
Here's a sample beginner's resume for an entry level job made using our resume builder.
Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you'll get tips and right vs. wrong examples while writing your resume. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.
Entry Level Resume Example - See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.
Formatting Resumes Without Experience For The Most Impact
Dozens of people are applying for the job you want. Their resumes are all jam-packed with experience from past jobs. And that's great, for them: 65% of employers want candidates with prior experience.
Everyone’s got a solid experience section: with bullet points, dates, and different places. They’ve listed their experience in the reverse-chronological format, a favorite in resume writing.
As for you? You’ve got a blank, white space where the experience section should be.
We don’t want a blank, white space.
So, what do we do?
Well, let’s stick with the battle-tested reverse-chronological resume format, but we’ll make a few tweaks:
- Since it’s a resume with no job experience, first, we’ll emphasize the education section.
- Second, volunteer work & freelance gigs will get a boost.
- Last, we’ll highlight your skills in a way which hooks the recruiter.
Feel like there's just too much to keep in mind when writing your first resume? We've got you covered. Get our free checklist and make sure you always submit a perfect resume that gets you the job: 46 Things You Need To Do Before You Send Your Resume
Pro Tip: Remember that putting the most important information towards the top of your resume is always good practice.
Some might tell you to use the functional resume format for a resume with no work experience, but we advise against that. It leaves off key details and is open to interpretation. Want to double-check this holds true for your resume without job experience? Check out:3 Resume Formats: How to Choose the Best One [Examples]
An Educational Focus Instead of Experience
You’ve got no experience, but your education section is impressive.
On a resume for a first job with no experience, your education section gets upgraded to the top, just below your compelling resume objective (more on that in the following section).
So, how should we put your education on your resume?
If you’re a college graduate, this is how to include your university degree on your resume with no experience:
2008 BA in International Journalism
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
But what if you are still a college student working on your university degree?
Not to worry!
Here’s how to list a degree that is still in progress:
BA in International Journalism
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Expected Graduation in 2020
High school graduate or student? It’s absolutely fine! Just feature your most recent diploma or education.
List your high school, styling it like this:
Townsend Harris High School, Flushing, NY
Graduated in 2004
If you’ve completed a higher-ed degree, skip listing your high school on your resume without job experience.
Pro Tip: Avoid adding your GPA if it is too low (like under 3.5). This would turn them off and would have hurt instead of helped!
Need more examples and advice of how to put your education on a resume with no work experience? Educate yourself with this article: How to Put Your Education on a Resume [Tips & Examples]
Resume Summary or Resume Objective?
We’re moving things around on this resume, to prioritize your best assets.
But there’s one thing we always want to keep on top: the heading statement.
The heading statement is a sure-fire way to catch the recruiter’s attention, just like a perfect movie trailer. In your case, it’s a resume objective, since this is a resume without experience, but we’ll help you write one that will read like a summary for a resume with no experience.
Here, you’ll highlight transferable skills from other areas. This will make the case that you might not have experience with this position, but you do have experience which is relevant to it.
Objective for no experience resume example:
Katrina here wants to get a job as a painter with Paint Saints, so her painter resume objective emphasizes her related coursework and unpaid experience at home.
Pro Tip: Keep it short and sweet: 3 to 4 sentences is best. Want to say even more? Then make the perfect resume without experience, land the job, and then you can talk to them all you want!
Our resume builder (you can create your resume here) will give you tips and examples on how to write your resume summary or any other section. You can easily copy them straight into your resume - it will save you a ton of time.
Inside Uptowork's resume tool you will find tips and examples for your resume.
Need more advice and examples on how to make outline resume objectives? Take a look at this one:20+ Resume Objective Examples - Use Them On Your Resume (Tips)
You DO Have Experience!
How do you write a resume for a job with no experience?
Well, you get some!
Wait . . . whaaaaat? I know, sounds like a catch-22, but just hear me out.
Learning how to do a resume when you have no work experience is much easier if you can show some seasonal or temporary work experience. If you have any part-time work, that will go a long way towards a great experience section.
Have dreams of investigative journalism for the New York Times?
Do some freelance writing work from places such as Upwork so that you can have a few published samples in your resume without experience.
Still want to say you don’t have experience?
Also, remember how you might not have hands-on experience, but you do have relevant skills?
Well, you live in a wonderful age: you have resources like the interwebz and the vast knowledge it offers at your fingertips. Not only are they immediately accessible, but many of them are absolutely free - a price that fits any budget.
Try taking some online courses from EdX, Udemy, or Coursera, particularly ones relevant to the job you are looking to obtain.
Pro Tip: Now that you have some experience, add some of these people (teachers, freelance employers, etc.) on LinkedIn. Now you are networking and building contacts in the industry!
Need help writing a resume for college students with no experience? Want a basic sample resume for fresh graduates without work experience? See this article: Complete Guide to Writing a Student Resume [13 Tips, Examples]
How to Make a Killer Skills Section
You’re a prizewinning gymnast. You make the best vodka-based beverages. You can deadlift 517 lbs.
You’re talented, for sure.
However, it would be weird to list these skills when writing a help desk resume, for example.
The point is: you must tailor your skills to the job listing.
Browse the job listing and underline important resume keywords throughout. Add these to your resume without work experience - but no lying!
To round it off, add some hard skills and soft skills which are unmentioned in the job listing. Hard skills are specific abilities and know-how (e.g., intercom system). Soft skills are self-developed, life-learned attributes (e.g., adaptability).
Pro Tip: Try this: Type any and all of your skills into an Excel column, with a number (1-10) of importance and flight crew relevance in the adjacent column. Then, remove from the worst up until you have the best 5 or 6 and can zipper it shut.
These are just the basics, but there are a lot more skills examples for your resume with no job experience. See this dedicated guide:+30 Best Examples of What Skills to Put on a Resume (Proven Tips)
Resume With No Experience: Other Sections
On a resume without experience, you have one advantage over other applicants: you get to have more space to spend on the other sections of your resume.
Let’s highlight your uniqueness for the job by adding extra sections to your resume with no job experience:
Volunteer Work: Have volunteer experience? This is working experience! Now you don’t have a resume with no work experience, but a resume with some experience.
Certifications: Passed a workplace certification at school or through a career fair? That could definitely be useful in your first job.
Hobbies & Interests: Optional, but it could help to showcase the human side of you. If you studied the manager and saw she likes baseball, too, it could be a way to catch their attention!
Languages: Know another language? Don’t forget to note this in your entry-level resume.
Awards & Commendations: That something proud you were awarded back in uni or elsewhere sounds perfect to put on any resume.
Pro Tip: There are resume sections that you no longer need to put on a resume with no job experience, such as the reference section. They know they can ask you for references, so skip saying “references available upon request.”
Want more examples of hobbies and interests which work well on a resume with no working experience? Read our guide: 20+ Best Examples of Hobbies & Interests To Put on a Resume (5 Tips)
Cover Letters for Resumes Without Experience
Some job-related things that may go well together: keyboard and mouse, water coolers and gossip, and...
A resume and a cover letter.
No one likes writing them, but 45% of recruiters say they will reject a resume without a cover letter. That’s about one in two. So yes, a cover letter is necessary.
You’ve taken your time on your resume without experience formatting the template, adding the sections, and putting it all together.
Now it’s time to craft an impressive cover letter that’ll wow them.
Here are a few tips to write a great cover letter with no experience:
Address them by name: Do a bit of digging and find out the name of the hiring manager. This personal touch will grab their attention from the very beginning.
Get worked up: Explain to them why they need you for this position.
Speak of the company: Mention something about the company that you relate with. You dropped their name and caught their attention - now seal the deal with this next personalization.
Use your imagination: Be witty. Be charming. Be clever. Positively grab their attention - it will mean more than degrees and certifications you list in your chef resume.
Pro Tip: The only time you shouldn’t include a cover letter is if a hiring manager has explicitly told you not to send one with your resume with no job experience!
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write your cover letter in our resume builder here. Here's what it might look like:
See more templates and create your resume and cover letter here.
Those are the basics, but we’ve a lot more on cover letter writing. Check out the dedicated guide: How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter and have a look at 35+ Successful Cover Letter Tips, Advice & Guidelines
Clean Up Your Online Presence
Since you’re here writing a resume with no experience, I would be remiss not to remind you to make sure you have your online presence cleaned up.
Make sure your social media accounts are employer-friendly.
Remember that photo of you and your best buddy downing Jaeger shots from Spring Break 2017? (Yeah, you don’t remember, and that’s part of the problem!) Recruiters won't trust you with their brand image if you can't manage your own.
You see, the employer will google you anyway. Your social media profiles and all those embarrassing photos will come up first.
You may have fixed your LinkedIn profile to prepare for your future job, and that’s great. But, you won’t get it if your Facebook and Twitter are filled with photos of drunkenness and cursing.
To be completely safe, it is best to delete those images, as you’ll have way less chance of the recruiter finding something.
Pro Tip: To check what your Facebook profile looks like to others, click the menu icon, then the link marked “View as.” This lets you view your own profile the way others would see it.
The social scour is an important (but often overlooked) part of the resume-writing process. For more advice on making sure your presence online is clean, see: How to Check Your Online Presence Before Recruiters Look You Up
A resume with no work experience sounds like a losing battle, at first, but with this strategy, you’ll have a resume they won’t be able to resist.
Focus on education - You’ve no experience, but you do have education. You’ll highlight your academic achievements to stay in the running.
You do have experience - And if you don’t, get some! Use free or inexpensive courses online, such as Coursera, to add relevant experience. Now you have a resume with a little experience. Also, things you don’t think of as work experience may actually be, such as volunteer work, a stint with an NGO, or freelance gigs.
Other sections - Without the massive experience section, you are able to add more “other” sections. Use these to promote yourself and show the human side of you.
Now you should know how to write a resume with no experience that is compelling and unique, perfect for a high school resume or a beginner's resume for teens. Check out our resume dos and don'ts to make sure all's in tip-top shape, and then good luck at the interview!
Do you have any questions on what to put on a resume with no work experience? Not sure how to describe your skills or achievements? Give us a shout in the comments below and we will answer your question. Thanks for reading!
Many job applicants struggle to write the perfect cover letter even in the best of circumstances. They recognize the important role that the cover letter plays in their effort to capture the hiring manager’s attention, but aren’t always sure how to accomplish their writing goals. That effort can be even more of a struggle when they have no real work experience to include in their resume. How do you write a cover letter with no experience? While that can be a challenge, rest assured that it can be done!
Who Might Need this Type of Cover Letter?
There are many applicants who find themselves wrestling with this problem at the beginning of their careers. We all start somewhere. And while there was once a time when it seemed like almost every young person spent at least part of his or her youth with a part-time job or two, these days it’s more and more common for high school and college graduates to leave school without ever having worked a day in their lives. They all need to know how to write and utilize a cover letter with no experience.
This also goes for people changing careers who may not have any relevant experience to the position they’re targeting.
The Basic Elements of Your Cover Letter
Even though it’s an entry level cover letter, no experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you can skimp on details. There are certain basic elements that must be in this letter, and they are like those found in any cover letter:
- Basic contact information – This includes your name, email address, and a phone number that can be used to reach you. While formatting can vary, it’s common to place this information at the top of the page, on the right side of the document.
- The company information should go on the left side of the page, and should include the company name and the name of the contact person.
- You also need a reference line, to define the topic – such as “RE: Application for Office Manager Position”
The body of your cover letter should be relatively brief, containing roughly three paragraphs:
- You need an opening paragraph to introduce yourself to the hiring manager.
- The second paragraph should be used to showcase all the skills and qualities that match those needed for the job.
- Your third paragraph should detail how those traits make you the best candidate for the job.
You can close with a wrap-up that tells the hiring manager that you’ll be following up soon. That can be as simple as “I’ll try to contact you by phone on Wednesday at around 3:00 PM to follow-up and hopefully schedule an interview. I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss the job in more detail then.”
Keep the cover letter length at around half a page to 2/3 page long.
Writing a Cover Letter with No Experience
Paragraph 1: The Opener
Introduce yourself to the employer in one or two sentences by explaining who you are, which job you’re applying for, and how you learned about it. If someone referred you to the job, feel free to mention that (if you’re already using LinkedIn, that can be a great place to get these types of job referrals). For example,
Paragraph 2: The Skill Rundown
The next paragraph is critical. For your cover letter, no experience is available. That means that you need to focus attention on the relevant skills that you possess that can make you a good candidate for the job. There are several different things that you can include here:
- Personal characteristics and strengths that demonstrate that you can thrive in a professional environment
- Coursework and volunteer experience that may have given you an opportunity to showcase your talents
- The general skill sets that you possess that can be transferable to the job at hand
- Actual achievements that are relevant to the position.
When developing this paragraph, be sure to refer to the job posting. You should have already selected various critical keywords from that posting, so make certain that you use them in the letter when discussing your strengths. If they used the words self-starter, then try to identify an achievement that demonstrates that quality in your own life – and use the same term when describing that accomplishment. For example,
If you can do something similar with your other skills, you can lay the groundwork for that all-important third paragraph. This connects the dots between your skills and the employer’s needs.
Paragraph 3: The Sales Pitch
The final paragraph should be the functional equivalent of your elevator pitch – encapsulated in one powerful sales pitch. Try to tell very brief stories that demonstrate why you’re the right person for the job. For example,
Finally, don’t forget to add a call to action (Super Important) asking the hiring manager to call and schedule an interview. You should also thank them for the consideration.
Putting it all together –
Cover Letter With No Experience Example:
The Bottom Line
When you’re trying to put together a cover letter with no experience, it can be a real challenge to convince an employer that you have what it takes to handle his company’s job. Always remember, though, that you have skills and personal characteristics – as well as a history of accomplishments outside the workforce.
By learning to highlight those strengths, you can still create a cover letter that can help you get that all-important interview. Of course, if you’re looking for truly professional cover letters that can help you get noticed, we’re always here to help.
Good luck with your job search!
“My name is Sarah and I’m a recent graduate from the University of Southern Alabama. I learned about your company’s job opening for an XYZ operator from Smith Smithington on LinkedIn. I’m very interested in applying for that position, and am confident that I have the requisite skills and characteristics that your company is seeking.”
“I note that the position requires someone who’s not afraid to take the initiative in group project settings. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to be a self-starter, and have personally launched major website endeavors for our USA band fundraising activities and campus book drives. In both efforts, our groups raised funds that exceeded the respective target goals by 50% and 63%.”
“My organizational skills have also been put to the test in other real-world settings, as when I worked on the Mayor’s campaign and helped assemble her get-out-the-vote effort. During my high school career, I took the initiative in developing the sales campaign used to fund the purchase of new equipment for the basketball team, and subsequently organized the city-wide sales effort to fund our trip to the state tournament.”