Resume Tips - How to Fill Out a Resume When You Don't Have That Much Experience

September 18, 2014

Unless you’ve had years of diverse experience, filling out a resume is no easy task. Whether you recently finished school, or have only had one job for the past five years, you don’t want to send in a resume with only one bullet point on it. Or perhaps you’re just now finally pursuing your dream of a job of a career in a creative industry, and none of your past job experience is relevant. What do you do?

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Well, there’s good news: resumes don’t actually have to be very long. Though many career novices believe a resume should as comprehensive as possible and include every single experience you’ve ever had, the reality is that even people who’ve had years of diverse experience usually make sure their resume fits on one page or less. Short isn’t necessarily bad.

But still, in order to fill a page, you’ve still got to have something. So here are some resume tips that will help you flesh it out when you don’t have much (or any) experience.

Don’t be afraid to include experiences that don’t seem relevant. Perhaps you’ve only ever worked at a coffee shop, and now you’re trying to become a designer. That’s okay. What’s important is how you present it.

For example, don’t focus on the technical skills you acquired. Knowing how to work an espresso machine probably won’t impress a potential employer for a creative job. Instead, think about the skills you formed that would prove helpful in the job you’re applying to, and cater you descriptions accordingly. Perhaps as a barista, for example, you learned how to keep your cool in a stressful, high-energy environment. Perhaps you learned how to juggle the varying demands of a wide array of clients. Perhaps you got into making fancy foam latte finishes and discovered the importance as an artist or designer of learning to work with different mediums. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

Include any awards or extracurricular activities that are relevant to your job. Were your designs featured in a local fashion show? Did you take guitar lessons for ten years? Did your photos win first place in an online submission contest? Though these aren’t things you should always include, if they relate to a specific job, or helped you develop a skill that would aid you in that job, include them and explain why they make you more qualified.

Make a list of your qualifications and skills. Not everything you can do or know is related to jobs you’ve had or courses you’ve taken. If you’re stumped on how to add bulk to your resume, explain some of the skills you’ve learned on your own: like Photoshop, InDesign, sewing, how to use different cameras, or Tumblr for example. You might also want to consider adding references, including the names and contact information of people you’ve worked for who you know will give you a glowing review.

Make sure your resume is perfect. Even if you have a long list of past jobs that made you qualified for a position, you still won’t get an interview if your resume is fraught with typos and grammatical errors. Make sure every detail of your resume is flawless before you send it.

Lastly, never send the same resume twice. Though it’s important to demonstrate how you’re qualified for a job, your resume should always serve as another way to make yourself stand out. Use it to show employers that you really want to work for them. Tailor every resume you send with a specific job in mind. With that level of thoughtfulness, and the tips above, you’ll be able to have a stellar resume even without a lot of experience.

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