How to Write a Resume with No Experience: 5 Tips

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Writing a resume with no formal work experience means emphasizing other aspects of your life that’ll showcase your skills and passions—like your education, and involvement in activities like extracurriculars or volunteering.

[Featured image] A young man shows his resume with no experience to a hiring manager.

Having dedicated sections for a summary and a list of skills can round out your resume.

Resume with no experience: Template

Templates can help you organize your thoughts, inspire you with ideas, and take the guesswork out of how to format your resume. And regardless of how much experience you have, starting a resume from scratch can be daunting. 

Here’s a resume template you can use if you have no work experience.

Here’s the resume filled out below.

Sample student resume for a high school student applying for a first job.

Read more: How to Get a Job with No Experience: A Job Seeker’s Guide

How to write a resume with no experience: 5 tips

If you have no experience you can point to in your resume, highlight your education, include relevant non-work experience, list your skills, and include a summary. Get started by using a template.

1. Highlight your education.

If you have little work experience, emphasizing your education is a great way to showcase your strengths, interests, and background.

Some items you’ll want to consider including in the education section of your resume are:

  • Relevant coursework: Be sure to list any courses that will emphasize skills that can be helpful for the job. These might include courses that focus on technical skills—like economics, math, or computer science. But don’t forget the importance of courses like English or writing that can show your competence in communication or other human skills. Look through job descriptions to see what kinds of skills are desirable for the field you’re interested in.

  • GPA and honors: A strong grade point average (GPA) can indicate a willingness to work hard and an aptitude for your field. Experts recommend listing your GPA if it’s at 3.5 or above [1]. If you’ve received any academic honors, it’s a good idea to list them, too.

  • Relevant projects: If you’ve completed projects in classes that are particularly relevant to the job you’re applying to, list and briefly describe them. If you have more than one, this can be its own section.

  • Certifications and online courses: If you’ve completed any coursework outside of school or received a professional credential, list these under the education section as well.

2. Include relevant experience.

When you first start putting together a resume, you might feel like you don’t have any relevant experience to refer to. But a little digging into your life could unearth several experiences that show your professionalism, interests, and character—all things a potential employer can consider important.

You can include the following in a section titled “Relevant Experience”:

  • Volunteer experience: Volunteering demonstrates your community involvement, ability and willingness to work with others, and your interests. It might even have gained you some hands-on experience in a related field. 

  • Part-time jobs: Maybe you worked part-time while you were in school, tutored or babysat kids, or helped your parents out at their small business. If you’re applying for your first full-time job, don’t shy away from including these. Part-time jobs can demonstrate your employability and experience with key skills like customer service.

  • Extracurricular activities: Whether you played sports, were part of a cultural club, or participated in student council, extracurricular activities can help show a willingness to explore your interests, develop new skills, and work on a team. Don’t forget to include any leadership positions you might have held in these activities.

3. List your skills.

Chances are even if you don’t have any formal work experience, you probably have skills that will be useful in the field. Look through several job descriptions of positions you’re interested in to see what skills are commonly requested. 

The relevant skills you’ll choose to list will likely depend on the job, but might  include: 

  • Research

  • Microsoft Office products like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint

  • Communication

  • Computer programming

  • Leadership

  • Social media

  • Foreign languages

  • Public speaking

  • Customer service

Not sure if you have the skills you need to land the job you want?

Try emphasizing your transferable skills, like critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. Or try taking some coursework in essential skills in your field—data analysis, IT, UX design, and digital marketing skills are all in demand across many industries.

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You can also look out for entry-level jobs, which typically have fewer skill requirements than other jobs.

4. Include a summary.

A resume summary is a brief description of your experience and qualifications. Usually one to three sentences long, a summary gives recruiters a way of quickly understanding your background and assets as a worker. 

Don’t forget to emphasize traits and skills that fit the job you’re applying to. You can also include a sentence about your objective—what type of job you’re looking for. Here are two examples:

Recent college graduate with background in computer science and communications. Seeking to leverage strong skills in Python, C++, and public speaking for full-time engineering opportunity.

Curious and hard-working high school honors student with passion for working with children and one year experience baby-sitting. 

5. Use a template.

Eliminate the stress of coming up with your own layout by using one of the many resume templates you can find online—like this one

Customize any template you find to fit your needs and tastes. A word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs can be helpful here. Need access to one? Try approaching your local public library. If you’re a student, your school library will likely have resources you can use. You can also create a Google account for free.

Next steps

Start building skills for an in-demand career in project management, data analytics, UX design, IT support, sales, or social media marketing with a Professional Certificate from industry-leading companies like Google, Meta, and Hubspot. Gain hands-on experience through job-relevant projects you can add to your resume or portfolio.

Related articles

Article sources 

1. CNBC.  “This is the only time you should include a GPA on your resume,  https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/31/when-to-include-your-gpa-on-your-resume.html.”  Accessed April 18, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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