So you’re about to obtain your High School Certificate (HSC) or Uni degree and are ready to transition into the workforce. You’ve spent significant time thinking about your career path. You’re eager to finally see those long years of academic rigour finally pay off.
The only concern is that you’ve never worked a single day in your life. Your current résumé looks underwhelming. You think it might automatically get tossed aside if it even landed on the Hiring Manager’s desk.
Here are 3 actionable recommendations that can actually assist you in developing a Graduate résumé even without any relevant experience.
Clearly Indicate Your Career Objectives
For experienced professionals, résumé objectives are often viewed as outdated and space-filler. These usually convey what the jobseekers want to obtain rather than highlighting the value they intend to bring to an organisation.
However, a career objective is ideal for Graduate résumés that lack professional experience. It’s a great way to focus on your attributes that make you the perfect fit for the role. Starting your résumé with the attributes that convey your value to the company will help grab the Hiring Manager’s attention.
Below are two examples of a resume objective for Graduates:
High School Graduate Career Objective:
“Diligent high school student (ATAR: 94.7) with excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Poised to leverage abilities and eagerness to learn new skills quickly to successfully fulfil the Retail Assistant role and help the team meet its goals.
This is a strong career objective because it highlights the applicant’s soft skills. Also, if your ATAR is above 75, then be sure to include it in your objective.
Uni Graduate Career Objective:
“A recent Bachelor of Business (Accounting) with a 6.50/7.00 GPA, looking to leverage experience as a Treasurer in the student council and the honours society to effectively meet the requirements of Assistant Bookkeeper. An enthusiastic individual who aims to help achieve company goals and assume more accountabilities whilst learning from experienced professionals.”
If you’re a Uni graduate, you should add the degree you’ve obtained and your GPA. Furthermore, describe demonstrated skills and experience relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Finally, when writing your résumé objective, try to look for skills or attributes that the employer listed in the job description. Mirror the language of the job ad if you’re responding to one.
2. Stretch Your Education Section
For experienced professionals, the education portion of their résumé is often very condensed and is only a way to mention their degree. Majority of professional résumés will only include the school name, major and graduation date in the education part.
Although for a jobseeker without professional experience, the education portion should be reinforced. This is to compensate for the lack of paid experience. To strengthen your education portion, consider including your:
- ATAR (for high school graduates, if above 75)
- GPA (for college graduates, if above 4.00/5.00, above 5.00/7.00, or above ‘B’)
- Extracurricular activities, sports and clubs
- Academic awards/honours
- Relevant coursework
By stretching your education section, you’re still able to effectively convey your skills and qualities even without a professional experience. Also, listing your active participation in clubs and athletics showcases your leadership abilities, sociability and energy level. Mentioning your academic awards and relevant coursework communicate to the employer your work ethic and theoretical knowledge relevant to the role.
Some jobseekers often have a difficult time remembering the activities they participated in or just weren’t that active in school. In this case, you can also include activities that are completed even outside of school. For example, marching band, intramural basketball or youth group at the student’s church. Particularly significant are any leadership positions you’ve taken in these organisations.
3. Include a Key Achievements Section
Did you participate in student council or organise an event? Present a project at a forum? Volunteer? Write for the school paper while at school? If so, then adding a key achievements section would greatly benefit your résumé.
The key achievements section is treated in the same manner as professional jobs. But since they were unpaid and for school, they fall under the heading “key achievements.” For each activity, enumerate a few bullet points that detail the accountabilities that you had within each organisation. Example below:
Treasurer, Student Council – All Saints Anglican School
- Prevented cost overruns in across seven school events in one year through constant monitoring of project expenses
- Leveraged analytical skills to evaluate financial data and recommend strategies to ensure efficient utilisation of the Council’s limited funds.
Formatting your school accomplishments like the above example encourages the Hiring Manager to disregard the fact that you lack professional experience.
- Include any other information that can make you shine or those that make you unique and interesting. Fluency in a foreign language or proficiency in advanced computer programs may qualify here. A word of caution though: Don’t go overboard. Your résumé should contain only what a specific job ad requires. For instance, if you were applying to a retail store located at a multicultural community, it would be advantageous to mention your proficiency in other languages.
- A poorly written résumé can be worse than having no résumé at all. It should be proofread at least 3x to ensure correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
- Be honest. When you deliberately lie, or even stretch the truth, it can come back to haunt you later, particularly when it comes to crucial things like GPA.