So, you’re out of college and looking for your first job. The first order of business is to write your resume. How do you write a resume when you have no real job experience? Welcome to one of the biggest obstacles of finding your first job. It’s a catch 22: You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. Fortunately, there are ways around this.
Write a resume that focuses on your education and college involvement. You can format your resume so that your degree is the first heading under your objective. List the classes you took that are relevant to the job you are seeking. Highlight your campus involvement in the experience section. Were you Captain of your Drill Team, serve as a Student Senator, or even a Resident Hall Advisor? These achievements indicate leadership ability and can fill an important gap in your resume until you get real job experience to replace it.
Build a portfolio to complement your resume. If you’re embarking on a creative career, an impressive portfolio will outshine your lack of experience. If you want to go into writing or advertising, for example, but have no experience, make some up! (No, we’re not talking about making up fake jobs here.) Create an imaginary ad campaign for a real or made up company. Write a few feature articles to use an example. Even though the work has not been published or was not created as an employee for a company, it will showcase your style and creativity and put emphasis on what you can do if hired.
One of the best ways to fill a resume is by volunteering. There are thousands of great charitable causes out there that can use your help. Some non-profit organizations rely heavily on volunteers to run most if not all aspects of their charity. There are several professional opportunities available too. Someone fresh out of law school could volunteer their time helping a charity with legal advise, a student with a business or accounting degree could help with the day-to-day administration, or a Information Systems guru could volunteer to do a website or repair computers. The possibilities are endless! The benefit to doing volunteer work is not only do you get to make a difference; you end up with a personal reference and real job experience for your resume.
There are plenty of ways to get around that no experience catch 22, you just have to use your creativity. Emphasize your accomplishments from college on your resume and get out there and make some experience of your own through volunteering. Once you have a good solid introductory resume, you are on your way to achieving your career aspirations.