How to Make Your Resume for a First Job (the Easy Way)
If you were to look at the news or social media, you might feel discouraged at the prospect of landing your first job. Reading story after story about mass layoffs can be difficult when you haven’t even had the chance to put your toes in the water.
But if you’re new to the professional market, don’t worry.
Because in this post, you’ll learn how to write a resume for a first job in a way that stands out to hiring managers.
Even if you don’t have years of working experience, you can still focus on your education, skills, and other key areas of your resume to make yourself a stronger candidate.
Writing your resume for a first job: 9 keys to success
So, you're about to create your first job resume with no work experience, but you know you have the skills and resources to build a well-crafted, impressive, and impactful document.
All that’s left is sitting down and actually doing it, so where do you start?
1. Get the education section right
Your “Education” section isn't just a list of qualifications, relevant coursework, or academic achievements; it's the foundation of your professional journey, particularly if you're seeking your first job.
A detailed “Education” section tells a potential employer more than where you went to school or what degree you earned. And it does even more than show your baseline knowledge when stepping into a new role.
On top of all that, your “Education” section concretely demonstrates that you can take on a long-term goal with varied obstacles and see that goal through to the end.
But the question is, how do you showcase these educational experiences effectively on your resume?
Instead of simply listing your qualifications, delve deeper:
- Did you lead a successful project in a business class?
- Did you take extracurriculars that demonstrate collaboration and teamwork?
- Did your degree require a heavy amount of research work?
Even if this is a high school student resume or your degree doesn't directly relate to the job you're applying for, you've likely picked up soft skills throughout your education. The key is to highlight these skills in a way that will resonate with the hiring manager and the job you're eyeing.
When crafting your resume's “Education” section, Teal's AI Resume Builder is your new best friend. Because if you're a current student working on your first resume or a newbie in the professional world, conveying the value of your academic background in a professional setting can be challenging.
But Teal’s AI Resume Builder intuitively prompts you to enter all the educational details you need in a simplified manner.
Then, it helps you connect your academic learning with the job you're applying for by targeting both hard and soft skills in the job description:
This gives you an advantage as you add text-based additional information to your resume:
With Teal's AI Resume Builder, you can ensure your “Education” section isn’t just a rundown of your degrees but a testament to the skills and knowledge you bring to the table.
It's all about making the right first impression, and Teal is here to help you do just that.
2. Focus on creating a clean resume format
You've probably heard the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover," but that's exactly what happens with job applications. Your resume format is a testament to your professionalism and attention to detail, so it’s worth paying attention to.
Plus, it shows the hiring manager that you’re taking the process seriously and, consequently, being more respectful of their time.
But how do you make a good first impression with your resume format? Consider the following tips:
Keep it to a single page: One page is plenty to tell your story effectively for your first job. An overcrowded resume can come off as cluttered and difficult to navigate. Stick to the essentials, highlight your most important achievements and experiences, and ensure every word earns its place on your page.
Use a chronological format: Starting with your most recent experience or education and working backward is a tried-and-true method. This format gives the hiring manager a clear view of your journey. Remember, your resume is a narrative of your professional life. Make sure it reads smoothly and logically.
Prioritizer readability: The best resume format in the world won't help you if it's not easily readable. Be mindful of your layout and design, making it easy for the hiring manager to skim. Consistent bullet points, clear headers, and ample white space go a long way in enhancing readability. Choose a professional, clear font, and use it consistently.
Your resume is a reflection of you, even before the interview. Don't underestimate the power of a clean, sharp format. It's more than for fluff and aesthetics. It's about making your skills and experiences as accessible and engaging as possible for your potential employer.
Creating a professional, easy-to-read resume format with Teal's AI Resume Builder is easy. You can quickly customize your first job resume template:
Resume templates settings (font, font size, line height, etc.):
And quickly re-arrange the sections of your resume:
In the end, this gives you more control over the look and style of your resume. That way, you can determine the best way to stand out to the hiring manager.
3. Include internships
Starting your career might seem like a catch-22: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. That's where internships, field studies, and other practical experiences come into play.
They serve as stepping stones into the professional world, providing you with valuable experience that can make your resume stand out.
Here's why and how you should highlight your internships:
Internships showcase your professional aptitude. They're essentially a trial run of a real job, providing you with exposure to the professional world.
But don't just list the role and company name under your internships section. Make sure you're painting a picture of your role and contributions. Detail the projects you tackled, your responsibilities, and the skills you honed during your time there.
When describing these experiences, consider the transferable skills you gained.
- Did you learn to manage your time effectively?
- Did you have to navigate team dynamics or solve complex problems?
- Did you multi-task by juggling many projects simultaneously?
Even if your internship wasn't directly related to the job you're applying for, these skills are universally valued in the workplace.
Highlight the outcomes and achievements of your internship. Concrete results demonstrate your ability to make a meaningful impact, which is exactly what employers want to see in potential candidates.
So, remember, internships aren’t just resume fillers.
They are testimony to your professional development and potential. Highlighting them properly can reassure employers that despite being a first-time job applicant, you're already well on your way to becoming a seasoned professional.
4. Highlight any projects, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities
When it comes to writing your first resume, follow this golden rule: every experience counts.
Don't limit yourself to formal work or academic experiences, it can be very valuable to include projects in your resume as well. Whether it's a coding project you worked on in your free time, a charity event you organized, or a club you led at school, these experiences can tell potential employers a lot about you.
Here's how to use your projects to enhance your first job resume:
First, these experiences exhibit initiative and passion. They show you're a go-getter, willing to push above and beyond what's required. You're not just waiting for opportunities to knock but actively seeking them out.
Volunteer work further signals your commitment to community and causes, reflecting your values and character. Employers appreciate individuals who contribute to their communities. Plus, volunteering often involves desirable skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving, all of which are transferable to the workplace.
And extracurricular activities, especially leadership roles, show your ability to manage responsibilities, work in a team, and even guide others. Maybe you were captain of a sports team or a club president, or perhaps you were the lead actor in a school play or organized the school activities.
These roles can showcase your leadership, teamwork, creativity, and time management skills.
When including these experiences on your resume, focus on the skills and resume accomplishments associated with each role. Describe the projects, explain your role, and, if possible, quantify the impact you made. It helps the employer understand the value you could bring to their company.
With Teal's AI Resume Builder, highlighting these experiences becomes an easy and effective process. The platform allows you to customize each resume, emphasizing different aspects of your experiences based on the job you're applying for.
For instance, if you're applying for a job that values leadership, Teal can help you emphasize your relevant experience as a project lead in a college club or a community project.
And guess what? It assists you in structuring these experiences professionally and provides AI-generated content to make your descriptions impactful.
Don’t restrict your potential to just professional work experiences. With Teal, showcase your vibrant range of experiences and show potential employers the unique value you can bring to their team.
5. Include certifications if you have them
When you're fresh out of school, and your work experience is lighter, featuring certifications on your resume can be the ace up your sleeve to get a foot in the door. They are an official testament to your skills and dedication and could give you an edge over other candidates.
Certifications vary widely depending on your field of interest.
They could range from technical qualifications, like a certification in Google Analytics or Python coding, language proficiency certificates, or project management credentials like the Scrum Master Certification.
These certifications all share the clear message they send to hiring managers: you're committed to continuous learning and enhancing your skill set.
To get the most out of your certifications:
- Choose relevant certifications: Align your certifications with your career goals and the job you're applying for. This ensures the relevance of your learned skills and validates your commitment to the industry.
- Place them prominently: Include them in your resume's “Education” or “Certifications” section. Remember to provide the certificate's name, the awarding body, and the date you obtained it.
- Highlight them in your cover letter: If a particular certification is especially pertinent to the job you're applying for, it deserves mention in your cover letter or the summary section of your resume. This draws the recruiter's attention to your most job-relevant skills right away.
Earning certifications requires time, dedication, and often an investment, but the payoff can be well worth it.
They equip you with valuable skills and demonstrate your motivation, self-discipline, and drive to potential employers, invaluable qualities to any workplace.
6. Don’t overlook your “Skills” section
The skills section of your resume is your personal spotlight. It's where you articulate your abilities and demonstrate the unique blend of talents you bring to the table.
When populating your skills section, divide it into technical and soft skills.
a) Technical skills: These are job-specific, hard skills you've garnered through your education, internships, or personal projects. They're measurable and often tied to specific tools or knowledge.
For instance, you might include proficiency in a specific programming language, a knack for using data analysis software, or your adeptness with digital marketing tools.
The keyword here is 'specific.' Be precise about what you can do.
b) Soft skills: These are less tangible but equally important. They're your “people” or interpersonal skills and often transcend the job or industry. Whether you're applying for a software developer or marketing analyst, skills like teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and showing initiative will always be in demand.
They show an employer that you're a well-rounded candidate who can navigate the complex dynamics of a workplace.
But here's the secret to a really good resume: customization.
Avoid the pitfall of having a 'one-size-fits-all' skills list. Instead, tailor your skills section for each job you apply for. Scrutinize the job description, look for the specific skills they seek, and ensure they are showcased on your resume.
By doing this, you're not just stating that you have certain skills, you're demonstrating that you're the perfect candidate for this specific role. And that's something employers will find hard to ignore.
Again, Teal analyzes job descriptions for you, helping you identify the right keywords to add. And if you use Teal’s generative AI for sections on your resume, you’ll automatically have these keywords inserted to get an advantage with ATS software.
7. Write a resume summary
Your resume summary is often the first piece of information on your resume (after your contact information, of course). It’s also the first thing a hiring manager will read.
As such, it needs to be engaging and encapsulate your professional persona. It's not a place for your life story but a snapshot of your key skills, experiences, and aspirations.
For a first-time job applicant, this is your golden opportunity to communicate your drive and ambition. Keep in mind that while your work experience might be limited, your potential is boundless.
Take this sample summary, for instance:
"A freshly minted Journalism graduate with a flair for investigative storytelling. Honed research and editing skills during an internship at a regional newspaper. Passionate about leveraging my knack for digging into stories to drive social impact. Looking forward to bringing my abilities to a dynamic newsroom."
Note how this summary covers the person's skills, experiences, and career objectives. It doesn’t just focus on the past but includes a promising glimpse into their future contributions.
If writing about yourself feels a bit daunting, don't sweat it.
Teal's AI Resume Builder offers AI-generated content for resume summaries. That means you get assistance in crafting an engaging, professional summary that captures your skills, experiences, and career ambitions.
8. Include a cover letter
Here's something to remember: while your resume gives an overview of your skills and experiences, your cover letter offers insight into your personality and motivation.
It's like the opening act that sets the stage for your resume, so never underestimate its importance.
A compelling cover letter helps you stand out from other applicants, particularly when you're applying for your first job. It lets you articulate why you're interested in the role, the company, and how you believe you can contribute.
In your cover letter, weave in all of your experiences. But it's not just about narrating what's already on your resume; it's about connecting the dots and highlighting the relevance of these experiences to the job you're applying for.
It's also your space to show you've done your homework about the company.
Mention why you're excited about their work and how you envision growing along with them.
Finally, make sure your cover letter is well-structured, error-free, and professional yet personable. First impressions matter, so craft a cover letter encouraging potential employers to delve further into your resume.
Creating a unique cover letter for each job you apply to might feel like a monumental task, but with Teal's AI Resume Builder, it couldn’t be simpler. Teal offers a cover letter builder that generates a custom cover letter for each job application:
It ensures that your cover letter is in sync with your resume and tailored to the job description.
With Teal, you create targeted, meaningful introductions that capture the hiring manager's attention and show them why you're the perfect fit for the role.
9. Leverage action verbs and power words
It's time to let your experiences make an impact. One effective but often overlooked tip is to start each bullet point in your experience or project descriptions with a resume action verb or power word.
These aren't just simple verbs; they're engaging, dynamic words that pack a punch and highlight your skills and achievements. Think "spearheaded," "engineered," "championed," "orchestrated," or "galvanized."
These words can boost your resume and convey your ability to bring about significant change or results. They are particularly useful for those crafting their first resume, helping to enhance even limited experiences.
For example, rather than saying, "Assisted in a project to improve website usability," revise it with a power word: "Contributed to a website usability project, enhancing user experience and boosting site traffic by 25%."
These power words don't just make your resume sound more professional and impactful, they also help the hiring manager visualize your actions and their outcomes.
The goal? To seize their attention and make them curious to know more about you. So, as you pen your resume, remember the power of power words.
Resume examples for first jobs
Example 1: Marketing Coordinator
About Me/Resume Summary: "Dynamic Business and Marketing graduate fueled by a passion for consumer behavior and creative communication. Honed skills in digital marketing, content creation, and brand management through internship experiences and rigorous academic projects. Eager to leverage these skills as a Marketing Coordinator to drive audience engagement and growth."
Education: "University of California, Berkeley, CA Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Concentration in Marketing | GPA 3.8 | Graduated May 2023 Dean's List, Beta Gamma Sigma Honors Society"
Skills: Digital Marketing, SEO, Google Analytics, AdWords, Content Creation, Brand Management, Brand Positioning
Volunteer Work: "Social Media Volunteer, Berkeley Animal Shelter, Berkeley, CA | September 2021 - Present
- Developed and implemented a social media strategy that increased online engagement by 45%.
- Created engaging content, including success stories of adopted pets and updates on available animals.
- Increased social media followers by 23% in 3 months, increasing engagement by 17%.
Note that we made the above example in under five minutes with Teal’s AI Resume Builder!
Example 2: Mechanical Engineer
About Me/Resume Summary: "Analytical Mechanical Engineering graduate with a knack for problem-solving and a keen interest in product design. Acquired hands-on experience in CAD design, project management, and product development during a transformative internship and through university project work. Aspiring to apply these skills to optimize product design and performance as a Mechanical Engineer."
Education: "Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering | GPA 4.0 | Graduated June 2023 Recipient of the 'Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis' award"
- AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Project Management, Problem-Solving.
Volunteer Work: "Engineering Mentor, Girls Who Code, Cambridge, MA | January 2022 - Present
- Mentored high school girls in introductory coding and engineering principles.
- Assisted in organizing 'Girls in Engineering' fair, inspiring young women to explore careers in STEM.
- Mentored 3 engineering students in 6 months to build and launch a website, resulting in 80% increase in online donations.
For more job-specific examples, check out our mechanical engineer resumes
These examples should provide a clear picture of how to tailor a resume to showcase your unique skills and experiences while also conveying your career aspirations. The key is to align your profile with the job you're applying for and let your personality shine through.
Starting your professional journey right here, right now
And there you have it, the roadmap to building a standout resume for your first job.
It's no secret that stepping into the job market for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. With countless other hopefuls applying for the same opportunities, the challenge lies in distinguishing yourself from the crowd, and that begins with a top-notch resume.
But the journey becomes significantly less terrible with Teal's AI Resume Builder by your side.
Teal understands that your journey is unique, and your resume should reflect that. By transforming your experiences, skills, and aspirations into an enticing resume, Teal empowers you to narrate your story with confidence and clarity.
So gear up, take a deep breath, and let's turn that job search stress into job search success.