Preparing for a job search can be both exciting and daunting. Job boards to search through. Applications to fill out. Interviews to prepare for. Add on the complexity of job hunting without work experience, and writing a compelling resume sounds like a monumental task. You may feel uncertain where to begin, which resume format to use, and what to write.

Whether you have limited experience or are a high school student looking for your first job, you’re probably wondering what you can actually put on your resume that proves your ability to work. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to write a resume with no experience and give you expert advice on impressing potential employers with your skills.

What You Can Focus On Instead of Work Experience

Work experience isn’t the only thing that defines what you know and are capable of as a professional. There are many ways to express your skills and achievements, from your educational background to volunteer activities or favorite hobbies. You can tap into plenty of other experiences in your life. All you need is a shift in perspective. In the sections below, we’ll explore different aspects you can emphasize instead of work experience. Let’s take a look at some common categories you can draw from to compensate for any lack of formal employment.


Emphasizing your educational background can help make up for your lack of employment. Use this section to demonstrate your dedication, intellectual capabilities, and commitment to academic excellence. Highlight your educational achievements, starting with your GPA if it’s high (unweighted 3.7+). Include Latin honors, such as summa cum laude or magna cum laude, if applicable.

Outside of degrees and honors, feature relevant coursework and projects that showcase your skills and knowledge in areas directly related to the job you’re applying for. Discuss research projects, presentations, or papers that show your ability to apply theoretical concepts to practical situations.

Extracurricular activities

Including your extracurricular activities can provide valuable insights into your character and demonstrate your transferable skills. Discuss your memberships in clubs and organizations relevant to the job listing, as they show your passion and dedication in the field. Emphasize any leadership roles you hold within these activities, such as serving as a club officer or team captain.

Mention any accomplishments or projects completed during your extracurricular involvement, emphasizing how they developed your teamwork, problem-solving, or communication skills. Showcasing your extracurricular activities will effectively illustrate your ability to balance commitments, contribute to a team, and actively pursue your interests beyond the classroom.


Internships are a valuable substitute as they closely resemble real work experience, so be sure to feature any that you’ve completed. These experiences demonstrate your ability to apply your skills professionally. Describe the tasks, responsibilities, and projects you were involved in during your internships to show that you received hands-on experience and industry exposure. Also, highlight any achievements or outcomes that resulted from your contributions.

If applicable, include positive feedback or recommendations you received from supervisors and colleagues. By emphasizing your internships, you can demonstrate your adaptability, work ethic, and willingness to learn in a professional environment, even if you haven’t had full-time employment yet.


Similar to internships, volunteer work can be effective in showing your ability to communicate, work on a team, and complete tasks. Describe your specific duties and responsibilities, such as event planning, fundraising, or assisting others. Feature any notable achievements or recognition you received during your volunteer time. Discuss the impact of your efforts and how they contributed to the organization or community. Remember, unpaid work is just as valuable and valid as paid work.

Hobbies and skills

Including your hobbies and skills on your resume can be a powerful way to demonstrate your personality and passions. Include any hobbies or personal projects relevant to the job in question to show your creativity, problem-solving abilities, and technical skills. Describe any notable achievements or outcomes resulting from these hobbies or projects, such as awards and recognition.

Highlight your relevant technical and soft skills that align with the job requirements. These could include proficiency in specific software or programming languages, strong communication or leadership skills, or any certifications or training you’ve acquired. Emphasizing your hobbies and skills will show your dedication, expertise, and ability to contribute to the job role, even without formal work experience.

How To Write Your First Resume

Now that you know what type of experience to focus on, it’s time to put it together. But how do you take all of this information and create a cohesive document? In addition to the content of your resume, formatting, tone, and refinement play essential roles in building a solid resume with no experience. It’s vital that you sound professional and competent to make a strong first impression on hiring managers. Let’s explore these aspects in detail so you can learn how to optimize and enhance your resume.

Formatting your resume

A resume consists of several sections of text covering different topics about you. Start with the essential elements in this order:

  • Name and contact information
  • Profile statement
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Additional relevant sections (internships, volunteering, etc.)

For each section of your resume, focus on simplicity and readability. Use short paragraphs or bulleted lists to make it easy for hiring managers to scan through the document. Choose a simple font that isn’t too fancy or decorative. Again, your resume should look professional and be easy to read.

Finding the right tone

Writing your resume in the right tone is crucial. Aim for a balance between professionalism and friendliness to create an engaging yet polished document. Be professional in your language, but avoid too formal or pretentious phrases that may come across as rigid. At the same time, infuse a friendly tone that reflects your personality without being overly familiar or inappropriate.

Use concise and straightforward language to convey your qualifications and skills while showcasing your enthusiasm for the position. Remember, the goal is to present yourself as a capable and approachable candidate eager to contribute. By finding the right tone, you’ll create a professional and personable resume, making a good impression on potential employers.

Refining your resume

With dozens of resumes to go through, hiring managers have limited time to review each application. They typically scan each resume briefly and move on to the next. So, how can you make your resume with no experience stand out among the rest? After you’ve filled out all the sections and squeezed every last drop out of your past experiences, it’s time to refine.

Read through your first draft a few times with a critical eye, looking for any unnecessary words or sentences that you can remove without compromising the overall message. Strive for clarity and brevity, using concise and specific language to highlight your qualifications. Consider using a grammar app to clean up your writing. Your goal is to enable readers to quickly move through your resume and capture the most important information.

Andrew Stoner

Executive Resume Writer and Career Coach

Andrew Stoner is an executive career coach and resume writer with 17 years of experience as a hiring manager and operations leader at two Fortune 500 Financial Services companies, and as the career services director at two major university business schools.

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