The most important part of job searching is creating a resume. But if you are looking for your very first job, where do you start?
Without any (relevant) job experience it can be difficult to build your resume. After all, how can you sell someone on your work experience if you don’t have work experience to sell?
The first step is to stop selling yourself short! Not always are employers interested in your previous work experience –especially in entry-level jobs.
Resumes contain different sections that also serve to highlight your professional character. Your education, activities, affiliations, and other soft and hard skills are valuable to employers.
Let’s break them down:
Education and Academic Accomplishments
If you have academic accomplishments to go along with your new degree, include them on your resume! Recognition for awards and honors should be listed along with the date awarded.
If you completed major coursework and it is relevant to the industry or position you’re applying to, it’s a good idea to call that out. The newer the achievement, the better, so go ahead and list these first. This way you catch the reader’s attention.
Activities and Affiliations
Activities such as volunteer work, clubs, or any other groups you belong to should be listed in your resume. If you were involved in Greek life during your time in college, president of your student body, or even captain of the basketball team, list your leadership role and the dates you held that position.
Additionally, list any jobs you have held such as babysitting, pet sitting, or landscaping. Even though these roles are viewed as soft jobs, they are still jobs. Leave some space on your resume to highlight any volunteer work you do as well. Employers love when candidates are active and involved in the community. In addition to listing your activities, be sure to put down a few bullet points describing your duties/responsibilities.
Hard and Soft Skills
Just because you haven’t held a traditional job to date, doesn’t mean you do not have valuable professional skills. In the hiring world, skills are broken down into two groups: hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are skills that have been learned and are directed toward a specific field or program such as auditing, graphic design, or word processing. Soft skills, on the other hand, are defined as social or “people” skills.
As we go through school and interact with others, we all pick up hard and soft skills. Listing these skills is a great way to set yourself apart from other applicants.
Hard and soft skills are best listed together under one section. Start by listing the skills you have that are most relevant to the positions you are applying to. For example, if you are applying for a customer service role, soft skills like communication or attentive listening should be highlighted. If you are applying for a web design position, some examples of hard skills you would want to list would be any specific programs you trained on in school, and the coding languages you know.
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The Finishing Touches
A lot of pressure rides on building the perfect resume, so it is completely understandable to feel overwhelmed and lost but take a deep breath. Even professionals who have highly polished resumes stood in your shoes at some point.
As you develop as a professional, so, too, will your resume. When you are starting out, don’t let the feeling of needing a “complete” resume stop you from getting in front of employers.
There are many other ways to catch an employer’s attention. In entry-level positions especially, hiring managers are more aware of the idea that “you need the experience to get experience”, and are often willing to offer positions to candidates who display a passion, dedication, and commitment to their professional journey –regardless of how extensive their work experience is.