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How to Write Your First Resume

There is more to a resume than work experience.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

November 08, 2019

How to Write Your First Resume
Chances are, if you’re writing your first resume, you’ve never had a “real job.” But that’s ok. Everybody has to start somewhere. So where do you even start if you have no real work experience? Fortunately, there is a way to craft your resume to showcase all of the experience, accomplishments and characteristics it takes to land your very first job. Take a look at some key pieces of advice for how to make a resume for your first job.

Formatting Matters on Your First Resume

Like many documents and forms, the resume has a particular format. Many word publishing applications come with different resume templates. You can choose from one of these formats – or you can do a search online and find resume examples that you like. Whatever the case, it needs to look a certain way. A resume without any formatting will immediately get thrown in the trash by a potential employer. And if your formatting is unorganized or sloppy looking, it won’t bode well for your chances of landing your first job either. So do your research and take resume formatting seriously.

The Order of Your Resume

Besides your name and contact information, your resume should first feature a brief summary about you and what you’re looking for. This is called an objective. State what year you are in school as well as any adjectives that you would use to describe yourself. For instance, if you’re a team captain or serve in student council, you could mention your experience in leadership. Also, mention what it is you’re looking for: part-time work, a summer internship or job shadow. To date, your greatest experience has been your education. Under education, you can highlight your school, GPA as well as any academic achievements you may have received so far in your high school or college career. Academic achievements can be awards or recognitions that you may have received in class, during a school ceremony or through standardized testing. Follow up your school information with extracurricular, volunteer and leadership experience. While your education gives a picture of how you perform academically, your extracurriculars help to define you as a person. They show your interests, passions and hobbies in addition to defining your ambition and motivation. Finally, list any skills that you have that would help to make you appear more employable. These include leadership, communication and teamwork skills and qualities.
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Make No Mistakes on Your Resume

The fastest way to get your resume rejected has nothing to do with experience; it does, however, have everything to do with punctuation, grammar and spelling. Pay attention to the details, and proofread your resume multiple times. It’s also best to ask a parent, teacher or mentor to take a look at your resume as well. A second set of eyes will catch any mistakes that you may have missed. They will also be able to help you with the flow of your resume or provide advice on things to include or avoid. After all, most adults in your life will have written their own resume. And if your parents or older siblings don’t have any resume experience, ask your guidance counselor. It should be noted here that you should never exaggerate – or outright lie – on your resume. For one, exaggerating about your experience could land you in a role that you’re not suited for – and therefore can’t perform. Most importantly, a lie that your boss finds out about could follow you around for the rest of your career. If your previous employer is contacted as a reference from your past work experience, there is no guarantee that they won’t mention your indiscretion. It can be very difficult to land future jobs with that kind of history.

Update Your Resume Frequently

Finally, be sure to make updates to your resume frequently. If your GPA changes or you have a new accolade to advertise, just pull your resume up and make a note. With frequent updates, you’ll be able to provide your resume at a moment’s notice. But that’s not the only type of updating you should keep in mind when it comes to your resume: you should also update your summary with each new position for which you plan to apply. The more tailored your summary, the more interested, prepared and knowledgeable you seem. After all, the summary is your first impression to the employer – so make it a good one! Once you’ve crafted your first resume, it’s important to update the formatting as you get older too. As you get more work experience and your education experience changes, so will your resume. Do research once more to determine which format and order best suits your history but also your future. As you mature, your resume needs to mature with you. When you search for your first part-time job, take heart in knowing that you don’t need years and years of work experience in order to get your foot in the door. You just need to know how to market yourself. And while you think you may have no experience, you actually have plenty of situations and circumstances that can provide you with the experience you need on your resume. Get the basics down first: format and organize your resume in a way that makes potential employers stop and consider you. Showcase your academic achievements, extracurricular activities and learned skills as experiences and qualities that make up who you would be as an employee. Avoid mistakes, and get help looking over your resume. Finally, update it frequently as you develop more experience and change as a person.
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