As you search for your first part-time job, landing an actual job may feel hopeless when you consider your previous work experience – or lack thereof. Besides learning the practice of work, there are also other skills that one develops as they work: time management, leadership and team player skills, just to name a few. But just because you don’t have work experience doesn’t mean you haven’t developed these skills and characteristics.
But where and when?
Take a look at your previous and current extracurricular and volunteer activity. Those after-school teams, clubs and organizations didn’t just provide things for you to do; they have helped you develop all of the qualities necessary to be a great worker.
Now, it’s just a matter of showcasing those skills in your resume, cover letter and job interview. Here’s how:
1. Recall skills that you’ve learned.
Think back to every activity and every year you’ve been involved in a team sport or organization. Write down specific roles you held and things you learned along the way.
2. Highlight learned skills.
Take those roles and experience that taught you, and write down a skill or characteristic that was instilled in you as a result. For instance, if you served as team captain of your volleyball team, classify that as a leadership skill. If you were a contributor to the school newspaper, consider yourself a team player. Or if you developed your interest and passion outside of school in art, jot down that you’re a motivated, self-starter.
3. Include them on your resume.
Give voice to these experiences on your resume (take a look at our first part-time job resume sample
). Instead of work experience, highlight the roles you’ve served in as you’ve participated in extracurricular activities. Also, feature a list of skills and characteristics that you’ve acquired in and outside of the classroom.
4. Expand on your extracurriculars in your cover letter.
Just as these skills got a shout-out on your resume, feature them within your cover letter
as well. Here, you can expand a little bit more and provide examples of how these experiences have shaped you as a person and how they’ll contribute to your productivity and professionalism as an employee.
5. Talk up your involvement!
Finally, when it comes time to undergo a job interview, talk about your extracurricular and volunteer activities. You can elaborate in the interview more than you can at any point in the job application process. So use this time wisely! Prepare answers beforehand to common interview questions, look back at your list of roles and skills that you’ve acquired and be ready to discuss them with the hiring manager or boss.
Remember, a “real job” isn’t the only experience that can teach you how to be a hard-working, professional, agreeable employee. Utilize your extracurricular and volunteer activities to provide a picture of who you can be as a future team player at your first job.