The job market is more competitive than ever and that means having an impressive resume is the key to finding a good job. For recent grads with little to no work experience this can be very difficult. It might even seem like you’ll never find your dream job. But even without work experience, there are plenty of tips and tricks that will help to perk up your resume.
Work with what you have.
Employers want to see that you’ve been able to hold a commitment to something. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can use besides a job to fill this requirement. School clubs are an excellent choice for your resume and will show potential employers that you were able to stick with something for a long time and make a commitment. Clubs are also a great way to show that you have time management and people skills.
Making it to club meetings every week isn’t too far off from showing up at a job. You meet with a group of people at a certain time and take steps to solve problems and work towards a goal. Your school club membership shows that you’re able to get along with all types of people.
Create an “Activities” section on your resume to impress employers.
If you’re wondering how to showcase your club memberships on your resume, a great choice is to make a section called “Activities.”
Club membership also is a great opportunity to showcase your interests and make you seem interesting to employers. Even if the club seems unrelated to the job, you might end up impressing potential employers in ways you never imagined. For example, membership in a Biology club shows that you probably have critical thinking and problem solving skills. Even if you want to work in a field completely unrelated to Biology, these are traits that any employer can get behind.
Include organizational memberships for a well-rounded resume.
There’s no reason to stop at clubs. Organizational memberships and affiliations such as honor societies and religious organizations are also a great thing to include on your resume. All the same rules that apply to clubs can be used for organizations as well. These memberships are a great way to show that you had a wide variety of interests and will make you seem like a conscientious and ambitious job applicant when you send your resume to employers.
Organizational affiliations can be lumped in with clubs under the “Activities” section of your resume, but you can also take it step farther and make separate sections for each. The great thing about resumes is there’s no set format. You can arrange them however you like. They’re a great chance to showcase your creativity and organizational skills to potential employers.
School projects are a great way to impress employers with your knowledge.
You might have thought you were done with all your school projects forever as soon as you received your grade, but that isn’t the case. School projects are an excellent addition to your resume and there are many ways to present them to employers as a substitute for work experience.
It’s important to tailor projects on your resume to your area of expertise and major. For example, a Chemistry graduate might create a section called “Research Projects” while an English major could make a section called “Editorial Experience.”
School projects provide a unique opportunity to show employers what you can do “on the field,” so to speak. A successful project proves more than acing a test or getting good grades on homework. It shows you can take what you learned and apply it to something solid.
When you're looking back on all the projects you did in school, be thorough. Don’t omit something just because it was in freshman year or doesn’t seem relevant. Successfully completing projects shows a great deal of commitment to an idea. It’s also a great way to show employers that you’re a creative problem solver and that you could apply your knowledge to everyday life in the workplace.
If you did have a job for a short while, don’t omit it from your resume.
Remember that time you worked part time at the ice cream shop in senior year of high school? It may seem completely unrelated, but don’t hesitate to put it on your resume anyway. At first glance a lot of jobs can seem irrelevant and even silly to include on a resume. But even if you think the job was completely easy and unimpressive, employers will be happy to see you were dedicated to something.
Remember you’re not alone.
According to the most recent U.S. Census, 71% of college graduates were working in 2011. That means a whopping 29% were unemployed and fully devoted to their studies. More students are choosing to stay focused on school instead of splitting their time with a part time job.
It might seem like you’re at a disadvantage if you lack work experience. You might be afraid that employers will see you as unmotivated. However, an increasing number of employers understand that some students choose to devote all their time to school. Instead of worrying about how your lack of employment will look to employers, spin it to your advantage! If they ask why you’ve never had a job, simply tell them that you wanted to be able to focus on school without the added distractions.
Last but not least, remember your new job is just around the corner.
Following these resume tips and practicing interview skills will greatly increase your chance of finding a job. It’s important to sum up all your accomplishments when constructing a resume. With a bit of hard work and critical thinking, you can create an excellent resume from club memberships, organizational affiliations and school projects. Many employers value creativity far beyond job experience when they’re hiring students fresh out of college, so don’t be afraid to work with what you have.