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From Ed’s Intern Diaries: How to Create a Legit Resume When You Have (Almost) No Experience

This is one in a series of posts, “The Intern Diaries” from Ed’s anonymous summer intern blogger.

I know what it’s like checking out job listings, finding the perfect opportunity, and deflating at the words, “Two years of experience required.”

How are you supposed to get any experience if everywhere requires previous experience?! I feel your pain.

I recently interviewed Ed2010’s resident resume expert, Sarah Bruning, for tips and tricks to make your resume super legit—even if you have little or no work experience.

Good Form

The format of your resume will go a long way in making you look professional. So spend extra time perfecting it. A good rule of thumb is to keep your resume on a single page. You probably don’t have that problem if you’re reading this article, but it will look sleeker and ensure that you are highlighting the most important aspects of yourself. Put your name in big, bold letters at the top, and include all contact information directly below it.

Keep your formatting consistent. The way you write your dates, your bullets, your indents, everything. Any typos or erratic formatting can land your resume in the trash. Also, make sure you send it in PDF format. That will keep your copy locked in place.

Bang For Your Buck

The key to making your resume legit is to think like an employer as you review your experience. Your employer wants specific examples of what you did, what your role was, the time commitment, and your responsibilities.

Under each item, include a short description with specific examples. Try using this format: “Camp Counselor: responsible for ten campers. Leadership role overseeing cabin and organizing daily activities,” instead of “worked as camp counselor at Camp Summertime for two months.”

Major Keys

Include any national or important awards (think: Google Science Fair finalist or winner, not your high school’s volleyball MVP or honor roll), leadership roles you’ve held, volunteer programs you participate in, languages you speak, and special skills you have.

Don’t forget to put the hours you spend on your phone to good use! If you’ve built a substantial following on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter (meaning several thousands, not dozens), you can include that fact. Many companies are looking for young employees to run their social media or help them stay updated and fresh.

What to Ditch

If you have a strong GPA, employers will look past it, but if you have a weak one it will make you look worse.

You don’t need any references on your resume (since this is your resume, not theirs) or an old-school objective statement. Everyone’s objective is always to get the job they are applying for—duh. 

Final Push

Finally, make sure to have a grammar-nut friend, supervisor, or a teacher (or two) check over your resume. It can be hard to catch your own mistakes, and your resume is not the place for any silly typos.

Bonus points: To make sure the hard work you put in on your resume actually gets seen, write a killer cover letter. Your letter should show that you’re passionate about the job, have done your research on the company, and know what you are getting into. That kick-ass cover letter will make it easier for your employer to look over some of the experience you’re lacking.

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