How to Write a Resume With No Work Experience
“I only have limited internship experience, can I still write a great resume?”
We receive lots of queries from clients on this – they’re unsure how to write a resume if they have little to no work experience.
Often, they’re either fresh graduates who are planning to start their careers, undergraduates who are still schooling, or individuals who had only worked part-time jobs so far.
If you fall into one of these categories, don’t fret!
There are resume best practices you can follow to stand out and get ahead of the competition. We’ll show you how to do this, by playing to your unique strengths.
In This Guide:
How to Write a Winning Resume With No Work Experience
If this is your first job, then it’s expected that you have no experience. But, that doesn’t excuse you for having a poor resume. You can create a solid job resume by sticking to these 5 steps:
1. Start with a Strong Executive Summary
Think of your Executive Summary as your elevator pitch – if you only have 6 seconds to impress a recruiter with the opening lines of your CV, what would you say?
The Executive Summary is the first section in your CV where you describe briefly your overall experience, achievements, and qualifications in a few brief lines. This gives hiring managers an idea of what you’ve achieved so far, and what your immediate career goals are.
Fill this with the most impressive information about yourself! On your Executive Summary, identify your career narrative, expertise or specialisations, significant achievements or past successes (i.e., academic projects, extra-curricular projects, businesses you founded, etc.), and quantifiable metrics to support your successes.
2. List Your Areas of Expertise
They include your technical and operational skills, strengths, and specialisations.
By highlighting these on your CV, hiring managers can get a good grasp of what you’re capable of doing and/or your experience in previous roles.
3. Highlight Internship Experiences, Projects, and Co-Curricular Activities
No work experience? No problem.
Instead, focus on internship experiences, part-time jobs, projects, co-curricular activities, as well as community services you’ve been a part of. You can even mention relevant coursework from your studies, as your academic achievements may be a good substitute for professional experience.
Describe the primary roles you played, skills and abilities you’ve developed, and significant achievements you’ve accomplished, whether individually or as part of a team.
Always remember to showcase how vital your role was to the overall organisation, and how you have contributed to its success.
Highlight leadership, communication, organisational, and management skills you’ve demonstrated – these are vital skills hiring managers look for in any candidate!
4. Include Links to Your Professional Profile, Social Media Accounts, and Portfolio
Recruiters and hiring managers can also learn more about you through your LinkedIn profile, social media profiles and personal portfolio websites or blogs.
Always remember to clean up your social media accounts beforehand! Do especially ensure your LinkedIn profile is optimised and up-to-date. Not sure how? Just follow our LinkedIn profile building strategies.
Remember to convey an image of professionalism. Give your potential employers a positive image of you, and increase your chances of being called in for an interview.
5. Keep It Short and Simple
A 4-page resume doesn’t make sense for someone with no full-time work experience!
Keep your CV short, simple, and clean. Avoid unnecessary information that do not support your career goals, or details that do not align with the position you are applying for.
Resume Sample for Students with No Work Experience
Here’s a full College / University Student resume sample, which we wrote for a client recently.
- Final year Mechanical Engineering student with previous internship experience in supporting engineering solutioning for international energy firm specialising in power and automation technologies, and in multinational glass manufacturing giant. [This bullet point needs to capture your entire life-story in a nutshell. As a student, you are unlikely to have much, if any, practical working experience. As such, the important aspects to include are your internship experience. If you lack internship experience, you can also highlight transferable skills as demonstrated through project work, CCAs, attachments, etc.]
- Practical experience in robotics, having supported solutioning, design, and production phases of robotics-based projects. Previously advised and presented on robot programming methodology. [While employers won’t expect much of students, it’s always beneficial to list out your practical skillsets. This gives you an advantage over others who may not have your expertise. Depending on your industry, employers may also expect a basic level of competency (such that they don’t need to train you from scratch), and highlighting your knowledge becomes a must.]
- Effective team player, having facilitated collaborative research efforts in analysing results and authoring lab reports in conjunction with a diverse range of team members. [You can also list your soft skills. However, be sure to back subjective statements (such as this one! ‘effective team player’ has different meaning to different people) with objective, concrete evidence.]
- Established leadership skills acquired through management and organisation of key University events attracting over 5000 participants. [Leadership of CCAs and event organisation show that you’ve been involved in University life, and aren’t just a ‘study machine’. It’s important to demonstrate that you are exposed to areas other than pure academics.]
- Supported 5-axis robot division in wide range of development-related operations. Responsible for assisting in on-site programming, customer needs analysis and custom solution design for niche applications. [The first line of each section of experience should summarise and highlight your duties, responsibilities, and contributions.]
- Studied clients’ unique needs, brainstormed with engineers on potential solutions, and produced detailed drawings (Solidwords) of solutions including custom machine and robot grip mounts. [Elaborate on your responsibilities as far as possible. Future employers would like to hire someone who actively contributes, and this is demonstrated by showing the different duties you handled.]
- Guided and mentored standalone customers; prepared presentation slides to deliver basic robot programming training to local engineers.
- Led team of 4 interns and coordinated with Marketing department to prepare for Tech Asia robot launch ever attracting >10000 participants, programming demonstration units to perform stunts to attract customers. [If you have contributed in a particularly significant manner, or successfully completed a high-profile, list it down! It shows you’re making the best use of your internship experience.]
- Carried out 3D design drawing and used SolidWorks software to carry out solid modelling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE). [If you used any industry-standard software, or gained exposure to standard industry tools, include it! Such experience will be useful in future, as it demonstrates competency in oft-used areas, which means that you will be able to start contributing earlier.]
- Led department’s Level 2 training programme, guiding the Head of Technicians and an administrative staff member to create training modules and carry out demonstrations; partnered with department manager to ensure fulfilment of programme’s objectives.
- Liaised with heads of plantation estates and hospitals in the area to arrange for medical assistance for the needy in three different areas over 3 weeks.
- Led 3 departments (Public Relations, Sponsorship, and Technical & Media) over a 3-month period to organise a fundraising concert attracting crowd of ~5000. [Contextualise your events and/or achievements. Show how large that event was, how many people took part, how many beneficiaries it helped, etc. This gives some sense of the scale and difficulty of the event, and thereby your skill and the competencies you have developed.]
- Directly negotiated with companies, arranging sponsorship agreements and advertisement requirements, totalling a sum of SGD20,000.
- Bachelor of Science (Hons) | National University of Singapore | Mechanical Engineering (Projected Second Upper) | Est. Graduation: May 2019 [Even though you are still schooling, put the degree name and quantify it with a statement saying that you are still studying ‘In Progress’ or ‘Est Graduation in xxx’]
- Dean’s list award in 2017 & 2018 for outstanding academic performance Academic excellence should be highlighted. If your GPA/CAP is above average, include it. Otherwise, omit it.]
- Received A+ for final year project on thermal performance of ceramic bonded aerogels
- Achieved Distinctions in EG1112 Engineering Principles and Practice, ME2134 Fluids Mechanics, and ME2121 Engineering Thermodynamics [If you are looking for roles related to your field of study, you can consider highlighting relevant modules you have performed particularly well in.]<
- Student Member, Institution of Engineers, Singapore, 2018 [If you have any industry-related certificates or memberships, include them! It shows active interest in your industry.]
- Nationality: Singaporean
- Languages: Fluent in English and Bahasa Melayu
- Availability: Immediate [Be cautious about your availability, especially if you are applying for an off-cycle internship or similar]
References available upon request
Some of you students might not have many work experiences, as such, a handful might decide to list every single work experience held across their entire lives.
Don’t do this!
Keep your experiences brief, relevant, and direct. Your work scope should be focused on responsibilities and broad summaries.
A lengthier resume does not imply it is a better resume. Nor does it put you at an advantage over other applicants.
1. Always Submit a Cover Letter!
Pair your new CV with an equally stellar Cover Letter. Even if the job ad doesn’t specify that you absolutely must submit a Cover Letter, we’d highly recommend that you do it. Here’s why a Cover Letter is so important. You can also download our Fresh Graduate Cover Letter sample.
2. Customise your CV and Cover Letter
3. Get Tips from Our HR Experts to Improve Your CV
Want to apply for your dream job, but need a second opinion on your CV? Send it to us for free CV Feedback!
Our team of expert HR consultants will review your CV in detail, show you its strengths and weaknesses, and offer you free pointers on how you can improve your CV to meet your career goals.
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