In the market for your first job? You might be wondering if a resume is really necessary. After all, an entry-level position might only require basic skills. And if you don’t have any prior job experience, what are you going to put on a resume?
The answer, however, is yes: A resume is essential to help you land your first job. When you prepare a resume for your first job, you’re demonstrating that you have experience that’s relevant to the position. It doesn’t matter whether that experience took place in a work setting, the classroom, or somewhere entirely different. All that matters is that you have it — and a resume is the place to prove it.
Here’s how to tell if you need a resume for a certain position and how to craft the best one possible.
How to tell if you need a resume
There are different kinds of “first jobs.” Let’s break down each one and whether you need a resume for this type of position.
Entry level job
A resume is also necessary for your first career job. This is any position you’re applying for after high school or college. Often, this job comes after an internship. Other job seekers choose to skip an internship and go straight to an entry-level position. Either way, a resume is an essential step in your application process.
First time job for a teenager
If you’re a teen looking for your first job, you’re probably applying to places like fast food restaurants or grocery stores. A resume might not be 100% necessary for these types of jobs, which are commonly filled by high schoolers. But taking a resume to your interview is always a smart idea to boost your application to the next level.
Trying to land an internship? A resume is an absolute must. You want to position yourself as a professional who has what it takes to succeed — and a well-crafted resume is the best way to do that.
What to put on a resume for your first job
Writing a resume for your first job can be tricky. But if you focus on highlighting your relevant experience, your resume will stand out. Here’s what to put on your resume from top to bottom.
First things first: A hiring manager needs to be able to get in touch with you. List your full name, the city and state where you live, your phone number, and your professional email address at the top of your resume. If you have a LinkedIn profile or a website, you can include those links, too.
Title and branding statement
Next, add a title and branding statement. This consists of two to three sentences that summarize who you are, what you do, and what value you bring to the table. For example:
Competent childcare worker with three years of experience creating a safe, engaging learning environment for children ages two to seven. Patient and compassionate daycare worker who understands how to relate to both children and parents.
The key with your branding statement is to focus on results, specifically stating what you’ll bring to an employer.
Any past work experience
Have you had any paying jobs in the past? This is the place on your resume to put them. Whether those jobs looked like babysitting, stocking shelves, or ringing up customers, include any past work you’ve done for pay.
The education section of your resume should include the name and location of your school, your field of study, your degree, and your year of graduation. If your GPA is 3.5 or higher, put that on your resume, too.
If you’re a recent graduate, this section may be longer than your “past work experience” section or may be listed above your work experience on your resume — and that’s okay. Position yourself as a knowledgeable, capable graduate who’s ready to step into the workplace with confidence.
Relevant school clubs and extracurricular activities
Extracurricular activities are any activities you do that are not required academically (think sports, hobbies, or school clubs). They deserve their own section on their resume when you’re looking for your first job — these activities have taught you skills that will help you succeed on the job.
Any activities that require you to work well with others, such as team sports, are especially important to include. You can also strategically choose activities that are pertinent to the job you’re applying for. If you want an internship at an accounting firm, for example, mention math club.
Relevant volunteer experience
Volunteer experience is any work you’ve done that you weren’t paid for, whether that was disaster relief work overseas or mowing your next door neighbor’s yard. It’s important to include volunteer experience on your resume to show that you value giving back to your community.
Make sure to be explicit about what you did in your volunteer position that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. “Mowed yards” might not impress a hiring manager. “Was on time every week to complete lawn maintenance according to each customer’s preference” will.
In the skills section of your resume, you should list both hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are things you’ve learned how to do. They might include things like:
- Microsoft Office
- Presentation skills
Soft skills are harder to measure. They’re skills that are more general — they can apply to any job. Think of them as personality traits. For example:
- Time management
This is also a good place to incorporate resume keywords. Take a look at the job description to find the keywords that seem most relevant. Don’t overdo it by adding too many keywords, but do add a few key phrases that will catch a hiring manager’s eye.
Awards or hobbies
At the end of your resume, you can add a section listing awards or hobbies if desired. This section isn’t necessary. But if you don’t have much prior experience, it can help flesh out your resume and prove that you’re a well-rounded individual. This section might read something like:
- Awards and recognitions — National Honor Society, Science Olympiad runner-up, awarded local scholarship out of 500 applicants
- Hobbies — Weightlifting, designing video games, training dog
Even your hobbies that might seem irrelevant have helped you develop both hard and soft skills that will be beneficial in the workplace.
Need a hand writing a resume for your first job?
A well-written resume is the best way to stand out in a field of applicants and get your first job. Need some help getting started? That’s what ResumeSpice is here for. Our team of experts has years of experience creating resumes for job seekers at every level. We’d love to talk with you about your career goals and how our resume writing services can help. Contact us today!