It should come as no surprise that finding the perfect job takes hard work, dedication, and time. It’s quite a change from the instant gratification world we live in otherwise. There is nothing more frustrating for a job seeker than sending out dozens of applications, resumes, and cover letters only to hear nothing back. It’s equally challenging for employers who are receiving hundreds of resumes to sift through, many of which belong to people who don’t actually qualify for the job. This may lead job seekers to wonder… if an individual with tons of experience can’t quickly and easily find a great job, and if employers are bogged down with resumes that should never have been sent, how can an individual with no experience ever find the perfect job?
Let’s say you are graduating soon. You have no experience. You want to land a great job, but you don’t know how to make yourself stand out in front of potential employers. Your resume and cover letter are key! We can break each one down with quick tips and tricks that will increase your confidence in the application process, help you share important tidbits about yourself and your skill set with potential employers, and get you noticed.
Using a business style format, your cover letter should include some basic information:
- Your name, physical address, phone number, and email address.
- The name and contact information of the person to whom you are addressing the letter.
- A reference line that includes the title of the position.
- A greeting to the letter recipient.
- Four distinct paragraphs:
- Your personal introduction describing who you are, where you’ve gone to school, what career path you are pursuing, and what steps you’ve taken to prepare yourself for the role being advertised. Throughout the entire cover letter, be yourself and let your personality shine through.
- A description of the personal skills and attributes you possess that match the requirements of the position. For instance, if you are applying for a project management position, you may discuss briefly your time management, planning, and budgeting skills.
- A secondary paragraph about skills, achievements, and personal traits that may also be beneficial, unrelated to what’s mentioned in the job description, can be included in the cover letter. This may include a description of volunteer experience, project experience, activities, and events or projects that build character, such as a graduation project.
- A call to action—telling the reader when and how you will be in touch. Keep in mind that you will need to follow through on whatever it is you’ve indicated you’d do. If you plan to call the individual, make sure you can locate a phone number. If you plan to send an email—do just that!
- Add your signature line including a genuine closing.
You may think that writing a resume with no experience will be a challenge, but you likely have tons of experience, even unpaid, to pull from. There are some key pieces of a resume that should always be included, but there are other pieces of information that need a little more fine tuning and thought when you lack paid work experience.
- You’ll want to start by sharing your name and contact information. If you have a LinkedIn professional page, you can include the link for that as well.
- A summary section that includes a short elevator speech about your skills and the desired position is important. This should be a few sentences long, written clearly and concisely.
- Listing your education will be important. This can include high school and college education and can easily showcase more challenging courses. For example, if you took advanced placement classes or are bilingual because you’ve taken a foreign language for many years, it could be important information to include. You should also include specific information about your college major.
- Your experience section will be the most important part of your resume. You will be attempting to demonstrate your ability to successfully perform without having been paid to do so in the past. This means you will need to dig deep and think about any and all experience you possess. This may include volunteer activities, internships, externships, course specific travel, sports, and more.
- Another wonderful section to include will be that of awards and recognitions. If you’ve received awards that demonstrate your commitment, abilities, and dedication—proudly showcase it on your resume.
- In all instances, you will want to tie your skill set back to the position for which you are applying. For example, if you are seeking a customer service position, highlight the time that you spent serving others or if you are seeking an entry-level accounting position, showcase your accounting degree, internship, and volunteer experience doing taxes.
- Finally, consider playing with the style of your resume. We live in a day and age when anything goes. Feel free to be creative and play with designs and colors that will make you stand out. Look at sample resumes and take what you like best from each to build your own.
Though it will take time to land the perfect job with no experience, it is absolutely achievable. Taking the time to work on personalized cover letters paired with a creative resume will help you to find the job of your dreams. Over time, you’ll start to build the work experience needed to bulk up your resume and become an even more attractive candidate to potential employers. Until then, start strong and stay the course. The job you are seeking is one application away!