With the Fall semester in session, the career fairs are just around the corner. It is time to start building your resume.
Whenever I volunteer at resume workshops, one common question is "what if I don't have any experience"? After all, students seek out internships to obtain experience.
My answer is you do have the experience. The key is to think outside the box and do key word research.
Thinking Outside the Box
Your resume should be a summary highlighting your accomplishments. Ask yourself these questions:
- What school or extra-curricular projects have I done that set me apart?
- What volunteer experience do I have?
- What leadership roles have I served or am I currently serving?
- What are my contributions to clubs/organizations?
- What's my hobby?
- How can I leverage my side hustles as experience?
- What did I do to impress my teachers or bosses?
- How did I overcome challenges/problems?
- What is the result of my efforts?
- How have I helped an organization/club/job raise money, save money, make work more efficient, be more competitive, build relationships, expand the business, etc?
The answers to the above bullet points is what will help your resume shine. You need to market yourself as a fast learner, team-oriented and results driven individual. These are the characteristics that will get your foot in the door because employees value these highly.
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, don't worry. It takes time to build experience, but the key is to start now.
One way you can start is by joining organizations or clubs related to your major. Become an active participant in the organization and take on those leadership roles. You will build invaluable soft skills and this will help you tremendously in your career. Another thing you can do is create a project. Use Youtube as your guide for projects. Again, this will show the employer that you are a self starter and motivated to learn.
Use Key Words From the Job Posting
Use keywords from the description of the job posting to tailor your resume to the job you are applying to. Recruiters use keywords to find the right candidate. Employers use software to scan your resume for the keywords in their job description so it is imperative that you use them.
Let's use this construction management internship posting as an example. I highlighted the keywords that I would incorporate in my resume if I was to apply to this posting.
Notice that the first three keywords are: team oriented, motivated and entrepreneurial. This supports my previous statement about the values that companies are seeking.
Steps to Build Your Resume
- Use the questions listed above as a prompt. Write down all the individual/group projects, volunteer work, and extra curricular activities you have participated in. These are your accomplishments!
2. Research the job postings that you are interested in applying to. Write down the qualifications for the job posting.
3. Make connections. How do your skills and accomplishments apply to the job posting? How can you use the keywords to describe your accomplishments?
4. Make sure you are using the key words in the job posting throughout your resume.
This is the resume I used to get my first internship my first year of college. Prior to this internship, I did not have any work experience. All my accomplishments consisted of volunteer service, participation in organizations and school projects. Notice how I leveraged my volunteer, leadership and project experience.
Use this printable to start your resume writing.