Resumes for Recent College Graduates with No Work Experience

Woman Interviewing as a college grad using resume with no work experience

Are you a recent college grad wondering how to craft a resume with no work experience? No worries. When you are just beginning your working career, you may not have a lot to show on your resume in your prospective field.  And while browsing jobs, it seems like any type of interesting job requires 3-5 years of experience, at a minimum!  This can be frustrating for many recent college graduates when the most you have on your resume is an internship and a few years of part-time work from high school or college.

Well, you’re not alone. Every college grad has early times in their career without much to show for it.  We’re going to give you some tips as to how to stand out from the crowd when you are just beginning your career. Ultimately, you’ll need to craft a professional resume, with an emphasis on your skill strengths.

Resumes with No Work Experience Still Have a Focus

What is the most important or largest accomplishment you have made in your life?  Maybe you helped a fundraiser hit a goal, or crushed a marketing analysis project in college.  Maybe you led your school play in high school or excelled at a sport.  Whatever it is that you have done so far, highlight it in your resume.  No matter what you have accomplished, employers are looking for something that you have done and excelled at.

Skills and Abilities Paragraph

While you may not have much meat on your resume, you can create a summary paragraph of your best accomplishments.  Maybe this is in the form of bullet points followed by a short paragraph.  Resumes on average don’t get more than a 10 second or 20 second look, so make sure to highlight your best accomplishment at the top and define how it correlates to you in the workplace.

If your GPA is pretty good, say 3.3 or above, it’s a good idea to highlight the fact that you excelled in the classroom.  That type of GPA usually puts you around the top 25% of your class and that should be highlighted.  If your GPA wasn’t that high, don’t worry about listing it.  It’s not a deal-breaker for employers if your additional skills, abilities, and communication skills match what they are looking for.

Job Qualification Keywords

Use keywords that you find in the job qualifications to use in your resume even if you have no work experience.  If the job is searching for strong communication skills, make sure to mention something about your communication skills.  If the job requires proficiency in Microsoft Applications, don’t be afraid to mention that you can use word, excel, outlook.

By all means, don’t lie!  If you can’t do something that they list in the qualifications, don’t list it!  Just leave it off.  Being able to do everything that a job application asks for usually means that you are a know it all and that is not what employers are looking for either. In fact, how employees handle unknowns and curve-balls is a key skill.

Know Your Strengths

Before you go off applying for hundreds of jobs in all sorts of fields, know what it is that you do best.

Paid and free personality assessments:

Free career assessments:

These are especially helpful if you aren’t quite sure the path that you want to go down and haven’t specialized in any one trade.  If you can identify what you are best at, and then filter your job search based on those jobs it will save you time writing a resume with no work experience.

Don’t Have Enough Work Experience for a Dream Job?

That’s ok!  Often times it takes years and decades to get to a place where you are working in a really good fit.  This comes as you know yourself better, and also as you put in time in your career.  If you can’t get to your dream job right now, how about going to work for your dream company?  Is there something entry-level that would allow you to get your foot in the door and then move up?  Employers generally prefer to hire and promote from within the organization with someone they trust.  This can be a great way to begin your career!

Now that you’ve got your resume sorted, check out our tips for conducting a phone interview.

Job Search