No Relevant Experience? Here’s How to Fill Up Your First Real Resume

relevant experienceHow do you fill up a resume with quality content when you lack relevant experience?

This is the time of year when even the worst procrastinators among college students start working on their resumes in earnest. After all, there are still summer jobs and internships at stake.

This can be a scary thing for a college student for a two reasons:

  1. Many have little or no experience writing quality resumes
  2. Sadly, many lack the relevant experience employers demand

This can, and often does, result in a resume with a whole lot of white space. So how do you combat this less than ideal scenario?

Here are five ways to fill up a resume with relevant experience… even when you haven’t done everything an employer might expect of you.

1. Go In-Depth About Summer and Part-Time Jobs

I’m assuming you have had at least one job, be it in high school or during the summer, or maybe just a work study thing. It may seem silly to you to really analyze your burger flipping experience when you’re applying for an internship at a magazine. But you really should present it as important. Employers aren’t expecting this experience to be really meaningful. What they do want to see is how you present it.

Using numbers, giving specifics, and estimating the volume of cheeseburgers you made shows you are somebody who is on top of what they are doing, it shows you are detailed oriented, and it shows you take everything seriously, including yourself.

2. Create an Academic Projects Section and Treat It Like a Job

Academic projects allow you to demonstrate skills to employers. Depending on the project, your major, and what kind of job you are applying for, the skills you are displaying can be pretty varied. You might want to show you know how to perform a type of financial analysis or that you are proficient with AutoCAD.

But the skills you want to demonstrate, regardless of the details, are the ability to write or give a presentation (by saying how long the paper or presentation you gave was), the ability to research (by listing the different academic databases you used, like Jstor and EBSCOhost), and the ability to work with a team (if you worked as a team say how many people were on the team). Also, remember to explain what the point of the project was and what your conclusion was.

3. Don’t List Hobbies, But Do List Independent Projects

Think about any projects you’ve done for yourself or with friends. This could be building a computer game, brewing beer, or setting up an event. These can be spun as independent projects. Treat them the same way as academic projects and create an “independent projects” section. You want to demonstrate skills you used to bring the project to life. Also include dates that you worked on them. Don’t present them as a hobby or interest. Present them as relevant experience by saying what you DID and be concrete.

4. Volunteerism and Associations

Treat associations you are a part of like jobs. Say what you did for them, and focus on any titles that you had. For volunteerism, make sure you say what you did and provide the number of hours you spent volunteering (feel free to estimate).

5. Relevant Experience Through Coursework is Your Final Option

If you have nothing else, or just desperately need to fill space, you can include relevant coursework. Academic projects are much more effective, but if you don’t have any you can list relevant coursework. Don’t give general topics. Be specific and list the class names and the grades you got, provided they are good.

Use these ideas to create a resume that isn’t mostly white space… and earn the job interview!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Resume to Interviews!


Resumes to Interviews



This entry was posted in Resumes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.