If you are a student or fresher without significant professional experience, writing a resume can be a daunting challenge. Resumes for freshers who lack professional experience need to compensate by presenting their skills, education and accomplishments in a format that places the emphasis on their transferable skills, education, accomplishments and abilities.
The purpose of a resume is to make the potential employer want to interview you and hear more about your experience. It is not your autobiography and should not be a long detailed document, but a short and concise summary of your skills, abilities, education and accomplishments. Here are useful tips to write an optimal resume for freshers.
Different styles of Resume
1. Chronological Resume
A chronological resume is the most commonly used resume format. It presents your professional experience in reverse chronological order and then lists your education, qualifications, skills and interests. If you have some significant work experience, this format gives you an opportunity to highlight your responsibilities and accomplishments in your previous positions in order to show the employer that you are competent and capable.
2. Functional Resumes
A functional resume, on the other hand, places emphasis on your transferable skills as opposed to your career history. It is useful for freshers, candidates who have done lots of short-term jobs, mature applicants looking to change direction and those planning to return to work after a period of time away from the workplace.
A functional resume is the recommended resume format for freshers and should include the following details, in this order:
- Contact details
- Personal profile
- Key skills
- Work history
- Voluntary history
- Education and qualifications
Once you have decided whether to use a chronological or functional resume, the next stage is to work on style and content. This includes writing a personal profile, work experience, skills and accomplishments.
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Include Professional Terminology in Your Resume
When writing your CV and cover letter, it is important to use vocabulary that shows you have the skills requested in the job advert. Use words that show your ability in the skills requested, for example:
- Excellent team player: collaborated, liaised, coordinated
- Good attention to detail: proofread, edited, meticulously
- Good management skills: initiated, organized, managed, led, launched, delivered
There are many action words that you can use to describe your accomplishments. Action words are verbs that describe an action. When you lack professional employment history, expressing your accomplishments gives the potential employer an idea of what you can do.
Examples of action words that you can use to describe accomplishments include:
Attained, accomplished, achieved, collaborated, completed, delivered, established, generated, improved, increased, initiated, launched, liaised, maximized, organized, produced, raised, reduced, resolved, streamlined, transformed.
Hints and Tips on Resume Content
1. Personal Profile
A personal profile needs to concisely express who you are, your experience, skills & abilities, career objective and how you can benefit the organization. Your personal profile needs to be targeted to each job by using synonyms from the job advert. If the job advert states “communication skills” or “team player,” make sure that you include the words communication and team player in your profile or alternative words with a similar meaning.
2. Skills Section
In the Skills section, arrange your resume in sections, listing skills that are relevant to the job. Then use action verbs that demonstrate your accomplishments.
Examples may include:
Communication skills: “I used my excellent verbal communication skills to resolve a conflict between staff members”.
Management skills: “I trained a junior member of staff in office procedures and managed his work progress”.
Computer skills: “I am proficient in Excel, Word and all social media channels”.
Administrative skills: “I reorganized the office systems to save time and improve office efficiency”.
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3. Voluntary Work
Resumes for freshers should always contain some voluntary work experience. If you lack prior work history, then voluntary work shows that you care about your community, you are making good use of your time and that you are motivated to do something worthwhile and challenging. It also gives you an opportunity to show accomplishments using action words, like: assisted, supported, initiated, completed, organized.
4. Most Valuable and Relevant Work/Voluntary Experience
Put your most valuable work and relevant work experience first in order to catch the recruiter’s attention. If you are applying for a job in sales, put your sales experience first using action words that mimic (or are synonyms of) the words used in the job description. If the job description states “excellent organization skills” or “efficient”, you can say “I organized a new office procedure for managing our accounts in order to make the processing system function more efficiently.”
Hints, Tips and Rules for Layout, Formatting and Appearance
Contact details should be displayed clearly and legibly at the top of your resume
There are cultural differences between countries as to whether a photo is acceptable on a resume, so you will need to double check this regionally before making a decision to include it.
Try to find a template, if possible. There are free and paid options available. Use a simple template that looks professional and business-like.
Don’t go over 2 pages.
Don’t use an unprofessional email address, for example, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fill in any missing gaps in employment. You could add voluntary work, summer jobs, or study that you may have done during this time period.
Always spell-check your resume. Even if you are good at spelling, do it anyway. There are many commonly misspelled words and if you make one of these mistakes, it is very unlikely that you will get an interview.
According to a 2015 research study by Adzuna Recruitment, the 10 most common spelling mistakes on resumes are:
How to Improve the Content of Your Resume
You may find that upon completing your resume, you are still lacking the necessary content to compensate for your lack of professional work history. This may be voluntary work, skills or education.
If your resume could benefit from more voluntary work experience, contact local organizations that may need volunteers. There are volunteer opportunities in every community. You could work with special needs children, the elderly or help a charity with administration or social media.
If you want to improve your computer skills, find some courses in a local college or an online course. If you are on a budget, online courses are extremely cost-effective and flexible. Working part-time while paying for your degree can be a stressful situation, which can prevent you from concentrating on your degree and completing schoolwork. In order to make it easier, consider earning your degree online with University of the People (UoPeople). It’s completely tuition-free so you don’t have to worry about going into debt, and you will have the flexibility to work while you complete your degree. University of the People (UoPeople) is an American accredited, tuition-free university. This means that there is no charge for teaching and instruction.
It is always valuable to seek advice from a careers advisor, mentor or someone with more work experience. Ask to see their resume, get some ideas on templates, layout, format and content. If you don’t have enough work experience, choose a functional resume to display your transferable skills, education and voluntary work. Make sure to your Personal Profile sounds perfect. Keep rewriting it until you get it right. Don’t forget to pay attention to layout, formatting, spelling and typography. A good CV gets you noticed and your goal is to get that interview.
Ultimately, Your resume is your advertisement; a short, concise document presenting yourself to a potential employer. If you get this right and get that important interview, you will have the opportunity to present yourself in person by showing your personality and explaining in more detail how you fit the job requirements. It is the first step on the ladder to success which will eventually lead you to a rewarding new career.