It’s actually a pretty common story. You have your eye on the perfect job, but you have zero relevant work experience. It might seem like an uphill battle, but it’s not impossible. There are actually quite a few things you can include to present yourself in a better light. Remember, people are on the other side of a job application, and people hire people they want to work with. Here are three tips you can take to make your resume that much more appealing, even with limited work experience.
Focus on Highly Relevant and Transferable Skills
Most resumes start by laying out precisely what relevant work experience (or education followed by relevant experience if you’re a new grad) makes you qualified for the job. That becomes a problem when the relevant experience isn’t the strongest side of your resume. Instead of wasting that prime resume real estate on things that will just confuse the recruiter, kick things off by listing your relevant skills. What transferable skills are relevant to the job? What do you bring to the table? All these items need to be at the top (or at least in the top 3rd of your resume) so that recruiters or hiring managers don’t lose interest in you before they get to the information they need.
Branch out from Your Work History Into Related Side and Academic Projects
Not all experience comes from paid jobs. Life provides all kinds of experiences, and that experience is relevant. Anything from academic projects to passion projects are fair game and should definitely be included in your resume. Any side projects that you’ve tackled outside of work or school are fair game. Consider listing out the relevant experience you’ve gained in a “projects” section of your resume. The thought that will go into picking and choosing the various examples of your experience outside of your work history shows passion and commitment to the job you are applying to and an understanding of what it will take to do the job well. Clearly label this experience as project work, and there is nothing preventing you from including it in your resume.
Take the Time To Write A Really Good Cover Letter
Since your resume isn’t likely to deliver the information that a hiring manager is expecting, it’s essential to catch their attention with a perfectly written and super relevant cover letter. This is your foot in the door. Amongst all the templatized letters and boring language, yours needs to stand out from the crowd to make sure your hiring manager knows that you are more than just here for a job, you want to work for them. Be enthusiastic. Be specific in how you can help them achieve their goals. Show how you are willing to learn and eager to get started, and you’re already halfway to a job assignment.