For new graduates and job seekers with little to no experience, writing an entry-level resume can be difficult, but many of the same resume writing strategies still apply to a resume format for entry-level jobs. When creating a new graduate resume, the main difference will be the placement of the education section; however, there are other changes to consider as well. Read on for advice on specific new graduate resume strategies and a beginner resume sample for several scenarios. If you are writing a resume with no experience, examples can also be found at the end of the article.
As you can see in the screenshot below, iHire’s entry-level resume template places the education section directly below the summary paragraph and core competencies section. Because most entry-level candidates are recent graduates with minimal professional experience to offer, the education section should be more prominent on the resume and include additional details like graduation dates, coursework highlights, honors/awards, and extracurricular activities/leadership roles.
Creating a summary for a recent college graduate resume is like any other type of resume. The summary paragraph must be a 3–5 sentence snapshot of your skills and qualifications. The difference with an entry-level resume summary is that there’s little experience to draw from, so the language needs to reflect that. Use phrases like “recent graduate eager to launch career in [field or industry name]” and “entry-level candidate driven to utilize and expand upon knowledge of [skill/competency], [skill/competency], and [skill/competency].” This will enable you to work in keywords that will help get the resume past applicant tracking systems.
To pinpoint the best resume format for entry-level jobs, you need to identify the strengths you have to offer a potential employer and determine the information that reinforces those qualifications. For some recent graduates, that will entail providing details on internships and volunteer work. Others may need to place more emphasis on coursework and school projects. You may even benefit from highlighting the transferable skills gained through seemingly irrelevant positions held during college.
1. Focus on Internships and Volunteer Work
Certain education programs require hands-on experience in the form of internships, co-ops, and rotations. For entry-level job seekers, this is critical information to highlight on the resume and it can be incorporated in two ways. In the hybrid resume writing strategy, the skills and qualifications gained from this experience can be included in the highlights section. Alternatively, each of these experiences can be covered individually similar to a traditional reverse-chronological resume format.
2. Focus on Coursework and School Projects
While uncommon, it’s possible to have a recent college graduate resume with absolutely no work experience section. For certain students who have not held a job of any kind, this can present a unique resume writing challenge, but it’s possible to create an effective resume without paid experience.
Without work experience, internships, or volunteer positions to highlight, the best strategy is to leverage any notable projects you have completed. These projects can be treated much like professional positions – the only difference is that the work took place in an academic setting rather than the “real world.”
3. Include Unrelated Positions and Highlight Transferable Skills
For recent graduates who have no internships or relevant volunteer work to highlight and no school projects to cover, the best approach is to tout the transferable skills gained through part-time roles you’ve held while completing your education. Soft skills like time management and customer service transcend a wide range of fields and industries.
When writing a resume, the most important task is to identify your strengths/qualifications for a specific position or opportunity and bring those elements to the forefront of the document. What makes the entry-level resume so challenging to construct is the fact that most new graduates have such little experience to draw from. However, lack of experience doesn’t equal lack of ability. If more than one of the strategies described above fits your background, don’t hesitate to combine approaches.
Whether you’re just starting your career or have extensive experience, demonstrating what you have to offer a potential employer is the key. Use one of the strategies listed above to show employers why they should bring you in for an interview or take elements from each approach to create the best entry-level resume for your situation. And, if writing your own resume seems too daunting, you can always get help from the resume writing experts at iHire.