Whether you're a new graduate starting your career and creating your first job resume or experienced professional pivoting industries, creating a resume with no experience can seem overwhelming.
But don't get discouraged just yet!
Having a clear idea of how to make a resume with no experience can simplify the process and help you position yourself as a qualified candidate. And with the right approach, you can easily stand out to make a great first impression.
3 key takeaways
- 9 steps for writing your resume with no experience
- Best practices for creating a relevant resume with no experience
- How to use the Teal AI Resume Builder to structure your resume and align your content with any job descriptionThe importance of resume content and structure
A resume is a written record that summarizes your educational and professional background, work experience, skills, and accomplishments.
Compatibility and clarity are the keys to a great resume. The closer your content aligns with a role and the sharper your presentation, the stronger your first impression.
Usually, your resume is the first interaction between you, the job seeker, and a prospective employer. And it often determines if they invite you for an interview.
Rather than just a general list of what you've done, your resume is a tool designed to market your abilities, achievements, and potential. Hiring managers have limited time to review every detail on the first pass, and in those moments, they decide whether to dive deeper into your qualifications or move on to the next applicant.
All of that to say, your resume needs to communicate your value proposition quickly, clearly, and effectively. And that's why it should showcase the top 10% of your qualifications that are relevant to the role you're applying for.
While the content of your resume provides insight into your qualifications and achievements, the structure determines how effectively you communicate that content.
While content lays the foundation, the structure elevates it—ensuring hiring managers don't miss the most important parts—the top 10% of your qualifications that align with what they’re looking for.
A well-laid-out structure—formatted clearly, using headings, bullet points, white space, and other design elements, ensures that every critical piece of content, whether it's your educational background, relevant skills, or unique accomplishments, is highlighted and easy to locate.
Pro Tip: Want to showcase your most impressive accomplishments at the top of your resume? Use the Drag-and-Drop Editor within the free Teal AI Resume Builder to arrange each section—ensuring optimal positioning.
Common concerns for first-time resume writers
Understanding common concerns about your content and structure and navigating them with the right strategies can make resume writing less stressful and more effective.
Let's address some of these concerns head-on so you're equipped to present yourself in the best light—regardless of your experience level.
How can I make a resume with no experience?
Creating a resume with no experience can seem challenging, but it's possible!
Before you get started, take some time to consider what you've done throughout your life. Think about:
- Projects you've completed
- Volunteer experiences
- Clubs or teams you've been part of
- Awards and scholarships you've received
- Certifications you earned
Then, write down what you accomplished during and as a result of those experiences and how you accomplished it—also known as showcasing impact and skills.
For example, let’s say you just completed your software engineering degree and volunteered at the local Humane Society during your spare time. What are some accomplishments and skills that align with the role of a software engineer?
Animal care: Ensuring 100% of every animal's specific dietary and medical needs are met requires meticulous attention to detail. This aligns with a software engineer's need to write error-free code and ensure every function and API endpoint works as intended.
Clerical and administrative support: Handling animal records using database management software without security breaches or errors can provide a foundational understanding of data organization. This aligns with an engineer's role in data management and integrity. Keeping records organized is also critical, whether managing files, codebases, or server configurations.
What if I don't have anything to put on my resume with experience?
Whether you’re creating your first job resume or are looking to transition from your current career path, your life experience holds more value in a professional setting than you may think.
You have other experiences where you gained considerable knowledge, used valuable skills, sharpened hard skills and soft skills, and owned impressive achievements that carry a lot of weight.
What sections should I include in my resume with no experience?
Every section of your resume is important in highlighting your relevant experience and expertise.
While each of them depends on situation, circumstance, and, most of all, relevance, here are the sections that can help you align your background with a job:
- Contact Information
- Target Title
- Professional Summary
- Skills (hard skills and programs)
- Awards and Scholarships
- Volunteering and Leadership
- Interests and Hobbies
You can find the guidelines for each section in these resume best practices.
The information below will focus on the nuances of creating “Professional Summary,” “Education,” “Skills,” “Projects,” “Awards and Scholarships,” “Certifications,” “Volunteering and Leadership,” and “Interests and Hobbies” resume sections with no work experience.
Step-by-step guide: Crafting a resume with no experience
Step 1: Understand how to emphasize relevant soft and hard skills
While your “Skills” section won’t be the first section of your resume, before you begin drafting your content, it’s important to understand that your hard and soft skills should be incorporated throughout each section.
Instead of just including a bullet-point list of words, highlight key skills that align with the job description of the position you're applying for throughout and emphasize how you've used these skills for meaningful impact.
For example, rather than listing “communication skills” and “data analysis” in a dedicated “Skills” section, incorporate them into your professional summary like this:
Leveraging communication skills and data analysis, I spearheaded a group presentation in Economics 405, achieving a 95%.
Step 2: Write a strong professional resume summary
Just because you're creating a resume with no work experience doesn't mean you can't take advantage of a resume summary.
Especially when you want to highlight the value of what you have to offer and how it relates to the job you're seeking, creating a concise description of why you're the optimal candidate for the job will allow you to stand out and grab attention.
Rather than using an outdated resume objective, a modern professional summary should:
- Be tailored to the job you're applying to using keywords from the job description
- Incorporate at least two relevant skills and their corresponding impact
- Be between 3-5 sentences
- Use the first-person voice
These resume examples of professional summaries demonstrate how it's done.
As a highly motivated student, I have valuable experience in leadership. As Vice President of the student council, I launched 5 school-wide fundraisers and drove a 25% increase in student engagement. As soccer team captain, I leveraged leadership, communication, and teamwork skills to guide us to an 85% win rate. My tutoring efforts supported 30+ peers, elevating their academic performance. Balancing a demanding schedule, I maintained a 3.7/4.0 GPA.
As an outbound sales representative, I exceeded quarterly targets QoQ by 15%, driving significant revenue growth. Now, I'm enthusiastic about pivoting to marketing. My strength in communication resulted in building lasting relationships, with a 79% retention rate of high-value clients. My aptitude in lead generation helped cultivate a pipeline that boosted sales conversion by 20%. Leveraging these skills and insights into client needs, I believe I can craft impactful marketing campaigns and strategies.
For more insights and examples on writing a beginner's resume summary, check out this beginner resume summary guide.
Step 3: Highlight educational achievements
If you’re still in school or a recent graduate, offering a detailed look at your education can help you align your skills, their impact, and your relevant experience with the role you’re applying for.
Your basic education should look something like this:
- Degree or diploma earned
- Institutions name
- Completed date or anticipated graduation date
- GPA if above 3.0
Then, beneath that information, incorporate relevant academic achievements—courses and relevant coursework like research papers, assignments, and presentations. (You can also include relevant projects and activities, or you can create dedicated “Projects and “Activities” sections—more on that below.)
Continue to incorporate hard and soft skills throughout your achievements using keywords from the job description that will align your content with the position.
Let’s say you want to apply for a role as a marketing generalist, but you don’t have relevant work experience. The job description includes the following details:
- Plan and execute direct outreach marketing campaigns, including utilizing lists from conferences and follow-up from prior conversations with prospects
- Coordinate and oversee all conference logistics and planning
- Manage and post content on various social media platforms
- Collaborate with internal teams to ensure alignment with brand messaging and goals
A comprehensive “Education” section that showcases other relevant coursework and relevant experience in a resume for a first job could look something like this:
Step 4: Consider a dedicated “Skills” section
If you can't incorporate your relevant technical skills into every section of your resume, consider adding a dedicated "Skills" section to highlight the hard skills mentioned in the job description (as long as space allows).
Hard skills refer to your practical abilities. These skills are typically concrete and measurable. And you can acquire them through education, training, certifications, or on-the-job experience.
Hard skills include things like Adobe XD, Google Suite, data analysis, coding languages, SEO copywriting, Microsoft Excel, and more.
While you can include soft (or transferable) skills in this dedicated section, keep in mind these are more challenging to measure objectively, and you should demonstrate them alongside complementary hard skills and impact.
Pro Tip: Want to make sure you've got the right skills for every application? Use Matching Mode in Teal's free AI Resume Builder to quickly compare the skills and keywords in a job posting to those in your resume. Then, receive a "Match Score."
You want your Match Score to be as close to 80% as possible. You can incorporate more skills and other keywords from a job listing into your content to improve your score—creating a tailored resume.
Step 5: Add relevant certifications
Certifications help align your credentials to the qualifications prospective employers are looking for.
As a student, adding certifications to your resume shows potential employers you have practical, up-to-date expertise beyond theoretical learning.
As a career pivoter, you can use certifications to align your skills and experience with the qualifications employers in your target industry seek. Obtaining recognized and valued certifications within your desired field showcases your commitment to learning and adapting to new challenges.
Step 6: Leverage projects and their results
Projects contribute to professional growth through the lessons or skills you’ve learned. The key to including team, personal projects, and academic or school projects in your resume with no experience is selecting ones relevant to the job ad or industry you're targeting.
Choosing the right projects will help your application resonate with the hiring manager, showcasing your expertise in a way that directly relates to the position you're applying for.
If you're pivoting careers, consider the projects you completed in your last role. What soft or transferable skills did you use to achieve the final result? The projects that incorporate the skills highlighted by a recruiter or hiring manager are the ones you should include on your resume.
Use the same resume format you would for a comprehensive "Work Experience" section. Your "Projects" section should include:
- Name of the project
- The organization you were with while completing that project
- Dates started and completed
- The scope (for example, the size of the team, project duration, or budget)
- Any feedback received
- Measurable results
Using the same information for the marketing generalist role above, this is what a relevant project looks like for a college student with no job experience:
And this is what a relevant project looks like for a job seeker pivoting careers from an administrative role to marketing:
Step 7: Include volunteer experience
Volunteering or leadership experience reveals your character, motivation, and values.
And just like you emphasize skills in your "Education" and "Projects" sections, integrating keywords from the job description into your volunteer work experiences will align them with the job you're pursuing.
To showcase relevant volunteer experience on your resume, include:
- The organization
- Your involvement or role
- City and State
- Dates of experience
- Your quantified (using numbers, metrics, and data) achievements
Step 8: Showcase awards and scholarships
Awards and scholarships often require specific skills—aptitudes like technical knowledge, leadership, teamwork, or creativity.
For instance, a "Most Innovative Project" award would signal creativity and problem-solving skills. A Scholarship for "Excellence in Community Service" acknowledges dedication to giving back and underscores the ability to collaborate effectively.
Here's how to list an award or scholarship on your resume:
- Name of the award or scholarship
- Date Step 9: Consider adding interests and hobbies
If you still feel your resume is light on content, consider adding a section for interests and hobbies if (and only if) they’re relevant to the job.
Hobbies and extracurricular activities can be remarkably relevant to specific roles. For example, a hobby like Debate Club could align with skills needed in marketing or sales that require strong communication, articulation, and persuasion. A hobby such as ethical hacking indicates programming skills, problem-solving abilities, and a passion for technology—often necessary in software, data, and IT.
Best practices for how to make a resume with no experience
Tailor your resume for each job application
Every job is unique, and so your resume should be, too. By tailoring your resume, your relevant experiences will better align with the hiring manager's requirements and qualifications.
Quantify achievements whenever possible
Using numbers, metrics, and data to showcase impact offers prospective employers tangible proof of your accomplishments.
Optimize professional presentation
Consistent formatting (in terms of fonts, bullets, white space, and headings) gives your resume a professional look. In addition, make sure to double-check spelling, punctuation, and grammar to maintain a polished and error-free document.
Pro Tip: If you want to understand more about formatting, including a deeper look at a chronological format and a functional resume format, check out this guide to the best resume formats.)
Write your resume today—no work experience required
Your unique experiences, skills, and professional achievements, even outside of traditional work settings, can significantly position you as a strong candidate.
By following the steps above and focusing on relevant experiences, creating a resume with no experience becomes a powerful showcase of your potential.
Let the free Teal AI Resume Builder help you streamline the process with its suite of tools. From the Drag-and-Drop Editor and Matching Mode to ready-made templates that ensure your resume is professional for every application, sign up for Teal today and begin your journey with confidence.