It's a catch-22: You want a job to gain experience, but you can't find a job because previous experience is required.
Don't be discouraged. You can still put your best foot forward and have a shot at the job. Follow these steps to create a winning resume:
Select the Right Format
The two most effective resume formats for entry-level workers are functional and combination. Steer clear of strictly chronological resumes, which place emphasis on your work history.
Functional resumes emphasize your related skills while downplaying your work chronology. Rather than citing dates of employment, this format uses categories to highlight your aptitudes. For example, if you're seeking a secretarial position but don't have any related experience, you may create the following categories: "Computer Skills," "Interpersonal Communications" and "Office Management Abilities." The latter may refer to managing your own home office, for example.
A combination resume is a chronological resume that leads with a Qualifications Summary, in which you emphasize the credentials that most qualify you for the job you're trying to land. Strategically order the sections in your resume to best suit your qualifications, placing more relevant categories, such as Education, Key Skills, Volunteer Work, etc., before your work history.
Assess What You Offer
What you lack in real-world experience you may make up for in your motivation to excel. Put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes and ask, "Why should I hire this person when there are 100 other applicants with more experience?"
Before you revamp your resume, research your target job on Monster and review the job descriptions. What skills, abilities and credentials are listed as desirable? Do you offer competencies, personal attributes or unpaid experience that compensate for your lack of work history? How would the employer benefit if you were hired?
Think of the top five reasons you should be selected for an interview. These will help you differentiate yourself from your peers.
Weave Your Unique Credentials into Your Resume
Whether you've chosen a functional or combination resume, you need compelling content to convince hiring managers to give you a chance. Consider these areas when developing your resume:
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- Experience: Part-time positions, temporary employment, volunteer work and related hobbies are all valid forms of experience. Focus on your achievements and contributions to show you are a results-oriented worker.
- Key Skills and Abilities: Incorporate the skills that would be valuable to employers, such as foreign languages, technical capabilities, organizational ability, interpersonal and written communication aptitude, creative problem solving, research ability, customer relations, the ability to rapidly master new concepts, the ability to work independently or as part of a team and leadership potential.
- Students and New Graduates: Describe courses, school projects, internships and extracurricular activities that are relevant to your career goal.
- Other Benefits: On your resume or cover letter, indicate whether you are willing to work the graveyard shift, accept a low salary or take classes at your own expense to get up to speed. Any of these benefits could tip the scales in your favor.