How to Write a Resume for a First Job
A resume for a first job should focus on your future as well as your past.
While you might be low on job experience, there are more ways of highlighting your potential than justifying it with job titles. You could be up against people with a few years of experience, but that does not mean that they are more suited for the role. Before you know it, you will be filling that page with compelling stories from every area of your life.
The trajectory of growth during the early years of a career can be meteoric. Every competent manager is on the look-out for a diamond in the rough. The resume for a first job needs to show enough glimpses of diamond potential to show that you are worth polishing.
The resume for a first job should contain the normal resume sections. You do not want to present yourself as being significantly different to other job seekers, so try to make your resume look as normal as possible. The content may differ somewhat. In this blog, we will explore how to handle each resume section when you don’t have much experience.
But do I need a resume for my first job?
How can you expect a hiring manager to decide between ten or twenty applicants if they have no way of objectively comparing? Every one of them will be saying how much they want the role, so steer the interview conversation in the desired direction by sharing your most compelling selling points in your resume for a first job. The hiring manager will expect a resume – you won’t get an interview without one.
What do include in the summary?
The summary section at the top of a first job resume should be dominated by your career objectives. These are the most important lines in your resume, so don’t feel that you should fill them with half-hearted attempts to shoe-horn your weak experience to fit the demands of the role.
The summary should be loud and proud about who you are and how this job can help you get where you need to go. If your inspirational mission statement can make a hiring manager curious about their role in your journey, then you have won the first battle. Those first few lines need to prompt them to imagine what it might be like to work with you.
How do I maximize the work experience section?
There is all sorts of experience that you can include that can help to highlight relevant skills and attributes. Internships, paid work experience, casual jobs, volunteering, and extra-curricular projects can all combine to showcase the desired skills.
You need to maintain a laser focus on the demands of the role when you write a resume for a first job – by all means, tell your best stories but do your best to find an angle so that they are relevant. Tell the stories that the hiring manager wants to hear rather than those that you are aching to share. They are the customer in this career transaction.
What skills will impress a potential boss?
While you might be tempted to fill your first job resume with every soft skill that you think will be required, only include those that you can flesh out with evidence and examples. Try not to exaggerate your soft skills as that will become clear during any interview.
While your hard skills may be lacking, it is enough to show that you are a fast learner. Pick out some times from your past when you had to become competent at something in a limited period – preferably when there were negative consequences to getting it wrong. You should mention the required hard skills in your resume, even if you do not possess them – let the hiring manager know that you know what you are working towards.
Are details about my education really that important?
College and university education details assume slightly more significance in a resume for a first job because they provide evidence of hard work and achievement. Include your grade average (if it is reasonable) and any detail of relevant projects or coursework. Having said this, resist the temptation to dedicate too much space to your education. Your future boss will be more interested in your career objectives and personality fit.
Whether you are writing a resume for a sales assistant, telemarketing role, academic tutor or administration role, a resume for a first job is a piece of writing where you realize that you are ready to take that first step.
You have more going for you than you think. This in-depth guide offers more great advice.