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Resume Tips: How to Write a Resume If You're Inexperienced

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resume tips - how to write a resume if you're inexperienced It’s the job search Catch-22: You’re looking for an internship or career-related position, but you don’t yet have the experience to land the job. Fear not, says Matt Krumrie. With more than 15 years of resume writing experience, he has worked with every level of job seeker – from corner-office executives and managers to college students and entry-level types to those switching career fields altogether. And they’ve all benefited from his resume tips.

“Every college student should be sure to know this: What you learn in college, those classes you are stressing about and worrying about. Those tests you stay up all night for and fret about, they are not going to mean anything after that first job,” says the St. Paul-based resume writer and jobs blogger. “Grades are important and you should strive to do well, but over time, stressing about that anthropology final is not what helps the IT major get that job. Employers are more impressed with the student who has achieved outside the classroom.”

So how can you get that resume-building experience? Read on for more of Krumrie’s resume tips.
Q: As students look toward applying for summer jobs and internships, what things can they do in the short term to build out their experience?
A: Employers want to see students take on additional challenges or opportunities. One recruiter told me she likes to hire those whose resumes are filled with extracurricular activities, such as a college athlete, fraternity leader, or someone who worked at the school newspaper, or with volunteer experience in and out of their field. Seek out clubs on campus, and volunteer opportunities with local non-profit groups. These are not only great resume builders, but are also great ways to connect with people who could be future references or people you can network with to future jobs.

Q: And it probably makes sense to align with something in your chosen field?
A: If you are a marketing major, join your college marketing club and try to get a role as an officer or president. Then, keep track of the projects and events you worked on and what you did. But don’t just join clubs and associations – be active and be able to show on a resume and then talk about in an interview, what you did, how you did it, and what you learned.

Q: And looking long term – let’s say a student is a junior now. Going into this summer and next year, what do hiring managers want to see?
A: At this point, they want to see real-world internship experience. Have you gained experience with a company in your field, doing what you think you want to do related to your career path or field? I recommend applying for internships as early as your sophomore year. The more experience you can get the better. I also recommend interning at more than one company, over a period of a few years. This can open you to different workplaces, company cultures, and see how different companies operate. Remember, the internship is your chance to test out your field and see what you like or don’t like.

Q: And if they can’t find an internship that pays?
A: With all I’ve said, I feel bad for the college student who works part or full-time and goes to school. That is a lot in itself and not easy. Take on challenges that will stand out. I have a nephew who is a financial analyst. After his sophomore year of college, he worked at a salmon canning factory in Alaska for part of the summer. It was a tough job, long hours, but an experience he will never forget. The next summer he interned with a large national life insurance company. He was asked more about his experience in Alaska than anything else on his resume. Why? Because it stood out.

Q: How can students best position jobs they may consider unrelated to their future careers - retail, lifeguard, and restaurant experience, for example?
A: You can easily transfer those skills. You work in retail? Talk about customer service, helping customers and dealing with people of all backgrounds coming into the store. You work in restaurant? You have worked under stress, dealt with rude customers, and worked as part of team – management, wait staff, kitchen staff, etc. Highlight your ability to work in a team environment, under pressure and with different personalities. This helped your communication skills, interpersonal skills, and team work.

Q: Any examples?
A: You could say:
Customer service: As assistant manager at retail shop, promoted weekly sales specials and worked with diverse client base to help with shopping needs.
Or: Strong interpersonal and communications skills: In college, worked in busy Italian restaurant with teams of up to 15, all serving up to 200 customers a night. Managed customer complaints and communicated with management on any issues to lead wait staff in tips.

Q: What about volunteering?
A: Volunteering is great, and it’s best served when you can correlate that into job skills. For example, if you are majoring in economics but list that you volunteered at the local animal shelter throughout college, that doesn’t tell the employer much. However, if you are an economics major and you said this, you will show a lot more:
Volunteer experience: As volunteer at Minneapolis Animal Shelter, created annual dog wash that raised $1,200 for the humane society. Promoted, advertised and managed up to 10 volunteers for event.

Find ways to show achievement in your volunteer work – and everything you do.

For more resume-writing tips and career advice, visit or follow Matt on Twitter @MattKrumrie.

Some books to help with job hunting and resume writing

How to Find Work in the 21st Century With CD 09 Edition 9781551808581 Ron Mcgowan Cut the Crap Get a Job 9781935953470 Dana Manciagli The Elements of Resume Style 2 Edition 9780814433935 Scott Bennett

Photo credit: Flickr/flazingo