How to Write a Stand-Out Resume Despite a Lack of Professional Experience
No experience, no problem. You still possess many of the skills and attributes recruiters and prospective employers are looking for in a candidate.
In this short article, we’ll be taking a look at what recruiters and prospective employers are looking for in a candidate, how to highlight those aspects despite a lack of professional experience, and how to make your resume stand out.
The tips and advice we’ll be covering are applicable to almost any sector of activity and almost any job position.
Your Introduction Aligns With Company Culture
“Comapny culture” – it’s more than just an alliterating buzzword. It’s a brief statement about who the company is – from top management to lower-level employees – what the company strives to achieve, and what their priorities are.
Company culture statements tend to contain broad descriptions of a company’s defining qualities. They often contain one or more of the following trending words:
A company culture statement often serves a dual function, doubling as a company’s mission statement.
When you apply for a position in a company, check out the company’s website. Their company culture statement and/or mission statement should be visible on their homepage. If not, it will be visible in the “About Us” section of their website.
On the top of your resume, you will write a 1- or 2-line introductory statement which serves a similar function as a company culture statement. This introductory statement should be changed or tweaked according to the company you are sending your resume to.
Make sure it reads in much the same way as the company’s mission statement or company culture statement reads. Feel free to “borrow” liberally from what the company has posted. Use the same words when possible. No one will accuse you of plagiarism. At the very worst, they might “accuse” you of doing your research and making a concerted effort to draft your resume for its intended reader.
One of the best ways to nail your next job interview is by paying careful attention to your word choice. In addition to introducing yourself on your resume with the same catchphrases that a company has included in their company culture statement and mission statement, it is also a good idea to incorporate this vocabulary in the answer you give during a job interview.
Your Interests Coincide With Action
Link to the royalty-free image by Ethan Elisara here
Recruiters and prospective employers are always looking for a candidate with passion. But passion alone is not very attractive if it isn’t followed up on with action.
You could have a section of your resume that is dedicated to interests or hobbies. This is a good idea only if your interests or hobbies are presented in the following way: interest -> action -> growth.
For example, you could be interested in literature. This alone might not be particularly appealing to a business. But take a look at the following example to see how it can be used to express an attribute all recruiters and prospective employers are looking for in a candidate.
- Contributing member of a book club (this shows that you have taken action in regard to your interest, you have made yourself part of a community (which implies a willingness, if not desire, to work as a part of a team).
- Through discussing the books we read, I improved my ability to see things from other people’s perspectives, and I improved my ability to communicate my opinions in a thoughtful and respectable manner.
This shows that your action led to growth. Notice the inclusion of the word “ability”, used twice in the example. You have shown your ability to learn and your ability to empathize and communicate – all valuable attributes recruiters and prospective employers are looking for in a job candidate.)
Intellectual Curiosity and an Aptitude for Learning
Regardless of the position you are applying for, it will require you to learn something new – be it a new process, new methodology, new software, etc.
Your resume should highlight your ability and desire to learn. In a few short hours, you can fill your resume with webinars and online courses you’ve taken. (It is easy to find online courses that are free and do not take a long time to complete).
The fields or topics covered in the webinars or online courses you complete are not as important as the fact that you have demonstrated intellectual curiosity which you’ve followed through on with action.
The more the merrier. And the wider the scope of your discoveries, the greater your intellectual curiosity will seem to recruiters and prospective employers. Even completing a cooking class or a tutorial on origami has value in that regard.
Also known as “soft skills”, transferable skills are any set of abilities that can be of value to a company regardless of the sector of activity they operate in and regardless of the position you are applying for.
Generally speaking, transferable skills define “how” you work:
- Your ability to integrate a team
- Your ability to prioritize tasks
- Your ability to receive constructive feedback
- Your ability to meet deadlines
A large section of transferable skills could be described as “people skills”.
- Your ability to empathize with others
- Your ability to communicate complex ideas in a way that is easy for others to grasp
- Your ability to listen
- Your ability to adapt to the expectations of others
You could have a section of your resume that is dedicated to transferable skills. List the skill you possess and cite an example of how you put that skill into practice. It doesn’t matter if the examples you cite are not professional but personal or extra-curricular. What’s important is that you possess the transferable skills the company is looking for and that you have an example of how you put that skill to practical use.
Transferable skills (or Attributes)
- Strong listening skills
- I was able to provide emotional support to a friend who went through a difficult break-up simply by being present for her and providing a willing ear for her.
- Strong willingness to take initiative
- With no prior baking experience, I prepared a birthday cake for my sister’s party by watching a tutorial and following a recipe. The cake was a big success.
The Bottom Line
Don’t sell yourself short. Despite your lack of professional experience, you still possess many of the skills and attributes recruiters and prospective employers are looking for. Half the battle lies in how you present them.