How to Make a CV for Your First Job (+ Template)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn how to build your first resume, even with no prior work experience.

[Featured image] A young woman sits at a table in a cafe writing a resume for her first job on a laptop computer with stickers on it. She has a cup of coffee in front of her on the table.

While you may not have any formal job experience yet, you almost certainly have gained skills and other experiences through your education and extracurricular activities. In this article, we’ll look at how to write a resume for your first job without experience. Learn how to identify your most marketable skills and experiences and how to format your resume to show them off.

What is a resume?

A resume is a formal document that presents your background, accomplishments, and skills to potential employers. When you submit a job application, your resume is typically the first thing a recruiter or hiring manager looks at to evaluate whether you’re a good fit for the role.

Did you know?

In India, the words resume and CV (curriculum vitae) are sometimes used interchangeably. A resume, however, is generally a short accounting of your work experience, education, and skills, and it is tailored for each job you apply to. On the other hand, a CV is a much longer and more detailed description of your career. The Latin term means “course of life.”


How to write a resume with no work experience

Many job listings ask for relevant experience. But just because you haven’t had a job before doesn’t mean you don’t have experience. Your experience happens to come from outside the workplace. For a first job, your resume should concentrate on your academic achievements and any informal work, volunteer experience, or extracurricular activities.

Here are some steps you can take to create a resume for your first job.

1. Pick the correct layout.

Many resumes focus on job experience, listed from most recent to oldest. When you don’t have job experience to list, pick a resume format that includes an education section closer to the top.

2. Match your experiences to the job listing.

Writing a solid resume begins with studying the job description for the role you’re applying for. You want your resume to match what the company is looking for, so start by listing the key terms from the job description. 

Go through the job description and write down or highlight all the listed abilities, skills, and values. Pay close attention to those listed as required. 

Now, think about experiences in your life that match the items on the list. If the job listing asks for someone with strong organisational skills, think about times when you’ve had to be particularly organised. Maybe you helped plan a school event or led a group project.

It’s okay if you don’t have something for every item. Keep this list nearby as you begin to fill in your resume template.  

3. Focus on your education.

It may be helpful to start with the education section of your resume. List your school and dates attended, as well as:

  • Relevant coursework: Have you taken classes related to the job you’re applying for (or from your job description research)? Be sure to list them.

  • CGPA: A strong CGPA can show employers you have the skills and work ethic to succeed.

  • Academic achievements: Include anything else that demonstrates your ability to succeed academically—receiving the Academic Achievement Award,  for example.

  • Extracurricular activities: Focus on the activities that align with the job listing. Involvement in learner council, for example, could demonstrate leadership skills, collaboration, and problem-solving. Playing a team sport shows that you can collaborate and manage your time.

  • Training s or online courses: If you’ve taken any training, bootcamps, classes, or certification programmes outside of school, include them here if relevant.

If you’re still enrolled in a program, list it as “in progress” with your anticipated graduation date.

4. Highlight volunteer work and extracurricular activities.

Next, add an experience section. While you may not have formal work experience, you should include any volunteer work, community activities, internships, or informal work experience (like tutoring, blogging, or helping with a family business) relevant to the job. 

As you fill in this section, you can refer to the list you created in Step 2. You don’t have to include everything; instead, focus on your experiences that align with terms that appear higher in the job description or those listed as required rather than preferred.

5. List your technical and human skills.

Include a list of skills as bullet points on your resume that highlight both your human skills and any technical skills you may have.

Technical vs workplace skills

Transferable skills, sometimes called soft skills, human skills, or workplace skills, are those that apply to just about any job. Some examples include communication, decision-making, leadership, time management, and problem-solving. Technical or hard skills tend to be more job specific. These might include programming languages, software proficiency, or knowledge of a foreign language.


The skills you list in your resume should reflect what’s listed in the job description. For technical skills, also include your level of proficiency. For example, if you’re still developing a skill, you could write, “Familiar with Excel spreadsheets.”

It’s okay if you don’t have many technical skills to list. A study from the job site LinkedIn found that 80 percent of companies value candidates with better workplace or transferable skills, which can be harder to teach [1]. The five most in-demand human skills in 2020, according to LinkedIn, were [2]:

  • Creativity

  • Persuasion

  • Collaboration

  • Adaptability

  • Emotional intelligence

Build job-ready skills

Looking to add technical skills to your resume? Prepare for an entry-level job, develop in-demand skills, and get hands-on experience with a Professional Certificate in social media marketing, IT support, data analysis, project management, UX design, or cyber security on Coursera.


6. Write your resume objective.

This short statement goes at the top of your resume to summarise your skills. It’s usually a good idea to write this last once you have a better idea of what’s in your resume. Keep it to one or two sentences that state who you are, what you want, and what you can offer the employer.

Tips for preparing your first resume

Now that you’ve filled in most of your resume, here are some tips to help make it stand out:

  • Keep it to a single page (two maximum). This is especially true if you do not include work experience. Include what’s relevant to the job, and leave out the rest.

  • Use action verbs when describing your skills and experiences. Start sentences with verbs (e.g., designed, guided, led, improved, established, managed).

  • Include the same words and terms from the job listing. Many companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to sort applications by keywords. Using the exact words and phrases in the job description might increase your chances of getting your resume noticed.

  • Customise your resume for each job. Each job posting will have different keywords and requirements. You don’t have to start over each time, but adjust your resume for each job you apply to.

  • Proofread. Ensure your resume is free of spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. If possible, ask a friend or family member to proofread for you.

  • Include your contact information, including your full name, phone number, and email address.

Student resume example

Here’s a resume sample for a secondary school graduate applying for a job as an IT technician:

Resume sample for a secondary school graduate applying for a job as an IT technician.

First job resume template

When you’re ready to build your unique strengths, experiences, and skills into your resume, use this first job resume template as a starting point. 

Get job-ready with Coursera

Whether you’re a secondary school student, college graduate, or working professional looking to switch careers, start building the in-demand skills needed for a digital job with a Professional Certificate on Coursera. Explore data science, cybersecurity, IT support, and project management options.

Article sources


LinkedIn. "LinkedIn 2019 Talent Trends: Soft Skills, Transparency and Trust," Accessed June 21, 2024.

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