No Job Experience? You Can Still Write a Great Resume

No Job ExperienceIf you are a recent college graduate or have spent time as a stay-at-home parent, it’s very possible that you have a college degree but very little or no job experience. Although this could cause problems for those who are competing against candidates with education and experience, by writing a great resume, you could still get your foot in the door.

Here are some tips to consider:

#1: Utilize Life Experience and Volunteering Efforts

While you may not have professional job experience in your corner, you probably have lived a full enough life to contribute to a job. For instance, if you have volunteered as treasurer of your church for the past 15 years, you not only have organizational skills but have likely kept up with technology to create databases for record keeping.

Look to your personal life for the skills that you’ll need to mention when applying for a job—such as leadership, organization, technological proficiency, data management, customer/client relations, and more. You’ll be surprised by how many of these skills directly relate to professional jobs.

#2: Add College Honors (Only When Useful)

Another way to show your depth as an entry-level professional—even with little job experience—is by including your college honors in your resume. For instance, if you acquired skills in some classes and can produce physical results of your work (e.g., a public relations portfolio) then this could substitute for job experience.

Also, you may have worked as director of your campus radio station for three years, wrote the news, and served as an on-air personality. This level of experience can be documented and should be noted if you’re applying at a commercial radio station.

Keep in mind when adding this information that it works best if you’re a recent college grad. Even then, it’s a good idea to add this information only if it specifically proves you’re qualified for a job.

#3: Shine In Your Cover Letter

Although the resume is more of a cut-and-dried document to list skills and accomplishments, your cover letter is the place where you can really shine. Use this document to your advantage as you talk about your strong desire to work in the position you’re applying for and how your time as a college student or at-home parent has contributed largely to your ability to make a difference for the company.

Speak with passion as you explore your past, which will likely be of interest to an employer who doesn’t see a long professional history.
Try not to write a biography, however; simply use important points in your background to explain why you’re interested in moving forward professionally and how those experiences make you a great candidate. A one-page cover letter can definitely get this done.

Sometimes it can feel intimidating to compete against individuals with more experience. But in the end, employers are looking for someone who can get the job done. Prove—in your resume, cover letter, and interview—that you can, and you may just score the position.

Follow @GreatResume on twitter for quick job search, resume and cover letter tips that you can start using today. You can also find more helpful job search advice on our Web site at


Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, speaker and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates high-impact, best-in-class resumes and cover letters that transform job searches into interviews and ultimately job offers. For more information about professional resume writing or to read more career and job search related articles visit or call 1.800.991.5187.

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, global resume authority and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast, is a former HR Manager who partners with professional- and executive-level candidates to create authentic, branded resumes and cover letters. An international resume columnist and resume expert for JobTalkAmerica radio, her work opens doors to lucrative positions at Fortune 500 companies.

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  1. Great tips, particularly for college students who don’t perceive that they have much experience while in school. The piece discusses using college honors, but only if recent. I am a communication prof who just blogged about how students can spin experience from college courses into resume-worthy material: Thank you for these reminders! Ellen Bremen, M.A. @chattyprof

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