Writing a Postgrad Résumé With Little to No Experience

You may feel intimidated if you don't have a lot to write about on your résumé. Follow these tips to get the job you want with limited work experience.

For recent graduates and others who are entering the workforce for the first time, writing a résumé can feel like a daunting task. After all, without formal work experience, what exactly do you put on a résumé that will convince employers to take a chance on you? With or without a solid work history, job seekers shouldn’t agonize. There are ways to write an impressive résumé with no experience. We’ve gathered our best tips to help you get started on a path toward the job you want. 

Consider a new résumé format

When writing a résumé with no experience in the workplace, what you want to emphasize are your skills. Most résumés utilize a chronological résumé format, which places the most weight on a solid work history and the job seeker’s professional trajectory. A functional résumé, on the other hand, can help you emphasize your education, internships, and other work-like experiences such as volunteer work to showcase your strengths. More importantly, a functional résumé format puts the focus on your hard and soft skills to get you the job you want.

One caveat about the functional résumé is that some recruiters don’t like them. The chronological résumé is the preferred format because it’s easy to scan and assess a candidate’s credentials. Some recruiters even feel job seekers who use a functional format are trying to bury their lack of experience. If you don’t want to roll the dice on a functional format, choose a chronological format with a twist. Write a detailed summary section at the top that highlights your strengths and briefly explains that you are new to the workforce. Here’s an example of what you might write:

Recent graduate with a degree in Business Administration and a minor in Women’s Studies. Completed an internship at Women at Work, a nonprofit focused on assisting women to open small businesses. Strong written and verbal skills, attention to customer service, and demonstrated mastery of critical analysis.

Then, rather than creating a “work experience” section, create a “core proficiencies” section that details some of your most sought-after skills.

Related: How to Write a Great Résumé That Will Get You Noticed

Highlight your transferable skills 

When you’re writing a résumé with no experience, transferable skills are your friend. But what’s a transferable skill? The simple definition of a transferable skill is a skill you acquired in one situation—in school, for example—that can transferred to another, which in this case is the workplace. Everyone has transferable skills, and emphasizing your unique set of hard and soft skills is critical to getting your foot in the door when you have no work experience. For example, if you’re a recent graduate with no work experience, highlight skills you learned in school or during internships. If you’re new to the workforce for other reasons—say, because you’ve been raising children—you might consider experiences you’ve had as a volunteer, coach, or doing part-time work.

Don’t forget the soft skills

Soft skills, or those hard-to-measure characteristics that make people great at their jobs, are highly sought after by employers. This is good news for job seekers who have little to no work experience. After all, your future employer can teach you how to use Microsoft Office, but they can’t teach you how to be detail oriented. Some of the most sought-after soft skills include customer service, strong written and verbal communication skills, organization, and problem-solving. Think back on experiences you’ve had that required you to use these skills and add examples to your résumé of times you’ve used soft skills to effectively complete a task.

Related: How to Use Keywords to Craft a Better Résumé

Quick tips

How do you write an effective résumé when you have no work experience? Here are four simple tips to get you started.

1. Gather information

Having your awards and the names and addresses of your educational institutions and organizations where you’ve interned or volunteered at your fingertips will make the process much easier when you fill out the sections of your résumé.

2. Choose a résumé format

Begin compiling the information you’ll need to fill out the five main sections of a résumé: the résumé header, professional summary, skills, work experience, and education.

3. Study the job ad

Personalizing your résumé for each job you apply to can make all the difference. Up to 90% of companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen candidates. By studying the job ad; making a list of all the skills, experience, and education requirements it calls for; and adding those to your résumé, you’ll improve your chances of passing through the first screening.

4. Proofread your document

Read your document several times for errors that spellcheck may have missed. Double check the spelling of the school and company names you have listed. It’s difficult to see your own mistakes sometimes, so ask a trusted friend to read it as well.

Related: Entry–Level Résumé Mistakes to Avoid as a New Grad 

You don't have to feel intimidated if you don't have a lot to write about on your résumé. Just follow these tips to get the job you want with limited experience. Employers will take notice, and you'll be off the job market before you know it! 

Need more help crafting the perfect résumé? Check out our Internships and Careers section for all the job search advice you need!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Asia Stockdale

Asia Stockdale

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me overcome a huge hurdle. Because of the small town I live in, I felt like I would never achieve more. I felt like I could never go beyond because of costs. I feared I wouldn’t be able to find scholarships. I had no idea of where to start. With CollegeXpress, I easily found scholarships—they came to me. It was a helper, and I was instantly matched with opportunities to go above and beyond educationally.

Josiah Kegg

Josiah Kegg

High School Class of 2021

I want to sincerely thank you all for this amazing website that's legitimately helped me find so many different scholarship opportunities. I've been stressing out for the longest time about paying for college since I would rather stay out of debt and have been working days trying to find any scholarship opportunity. When I found CollegeXpress, I discovered many easy scholarships that have given me hope for the future. Thank you and God bless!

Caitlin Eaton

Caitlin Eaton

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2021

I first discovered CollegeXpress during my sophomore year of high school while researching colleges that interested me. My SAT prep class the following year further familiarized me with the opportunities available through the organization. CX has personally helped me by exposing me to a diverse selection of schools as well as scholarships and life tips that have provided valuable guidance in my college search.

This scholarship will help me adjust to college life without worrying as much about tuition. This gives me more room to truly explore and benefit from all aspects of higher education. I plan to study Conservation Biology and work protecting species/ecosystems. I’m looking forward to getting field experience and seeing firsthand the problems research is solving.

Keydi Banegas

Keydi Banegas

Scholarship for Students of Color Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress is a great application that helped me search for many different scholarships, and it narrows the scholarships depending on how you set your profile. Not only that, but it helps you choose different colleges to apply to by finding matches through the description of your profile. It was the best experience for me.



High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has provided me with tips that were for college students, but as a high school junior, they were still very useful. Not only that, it also gave me an idea of what to expect when it comes to going to college or already being in college. I want to say thank you to CollegeXpress, and I hope you continue the wonderful tips until I hopefully get into college and throughout my college journey.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Thiel College

Greenville, PA

Kean University

Union, NJ

Whitman College

Walla Walla, WA

Allegheny College

Meadville, PA