How to Write a Compelling Resume Even With Zero Work Experience

So you just recently obtained your Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or College Degree and are ready to transition into the workforce to become a contributing member of the society. You’ve spent significant time pondering on your career path and are 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 resume looks underwhelming which might automatically get tossed aside if it even land on the Hiring Manager’s desk.

Here are three actionable recommendations that can actually assist you in crafting an attention-grabbing resume even without any professional experience.

Clearly Indicate Your Career Objectives

For experienced professionals, resume objectives are often viewed as outdated and space-filler as they typically convey what the jobseekers want to obtain rather than highlighting the value they intend to bring to an organisation.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 resumes that lack professional experience as it is a great way of emphasizing your attributes and traits that make you the perfect fit for the role. Starting your resume off with the attributes that convey your value to the company will aid to grab the attention of the Hiring Manager.

Below are two examples of how a fresh high school or college graduate should write their resume objective:

High School Graduate Career Objective:

“Diligent high school student (ATAR: 94.7) with superb interpersonal and communication skills. Poised to leverage abilities and eagerness to learn new skills quickly to successfully fulfill the Retail Assistant role and help an organisation meet its milestones.”

This is a strong career objective because it highlights the applicant’s soft skills that will be valued by the company. Also, if your ATAR is above 75, then be sure to include it in your objective, as it will help catch the eye of the Hiring Manager.

College Graduate Career Objective:

“Recent Bachelor of Business (Accounting) with a 6.50/7.00 GPA, looking to leverage experience as Treasurer in student council and the honours society to effectively meet the requirements of Assistant Bookkeeper. Enthusiastic worker aiming to help achieve company goals and assume more accountabilities whilst learning from more experienced professionals.”

If you’re a college graduate, you should add the degree you obtained and your GPA to your resume objective. Furthermore, describe demonstrated skills and experiences that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. In example above, the job seeker indicates his experience in student council where he has likely to have gained financial, leadership and management skills.

Finally, when writing your resume objective, try to look for skills or characteristics that the employer enumerates in the job description. Echo the language of the job advertisement or posting if you are responding to one.

2. Stretch Your Education Section

For seasoned professionals, the education portion of their resume is often very condensed and is only a way to mention their degree. Majority of professional resumes will only include the school name, major and graduation date in the education part.

Although for a job seeker without professional experience, the education portion should be reinforced in order 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 are still able to effectively convey your skills and qualities even without a solid professional experience. Also, listing your active participation in clubs and athletics showcases your leadership abilities, sociability and energy level. While stating your academic awards and relevant coursework communicate to the employer your work ethic and theoretical knowledge relevant to the role.

Some job seekers 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 have taken in these organisations.

3. Supplement You Resume with Key Achievements Section

Did you participate in student council, organise an event, present a project at a forum, volunteer, or 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 because 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. Below is an example of how to showcase this in your resume:

Treasurer |Student Council | All Saints Anglican School

  • Prevented cost overruns in launching up to 7 school events in one year through vigilant monitoring of project expenses to identify variances and develop workarounds.
  • Leveraged analytical skills to evaluate financial data, identifying trends to recommend strategies to ensure efficient utilisation of council’s limited funds.

Formatting your school accomplishments like the example above encourages the Hiring Manager to disregard the fact that you lack professional experience.

Other Tips

  • 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 resume should contain only what a specific job advertisement 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 resume can be worse than having no resume at all. It should be proofread at least three times to ensure correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Be honest. When you deliberately lie, or even stretch the truth, on your resume, it can come back to haunt you later, particularly when it comes to crucial things like GPA.

For more ideas on how to craft winning entry-level or graduate resumes, take a look at this high school resume sample and college graduate resume sample.