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If you are job hunting and getting nowhere, it may be your resume! How are you supposed to know how to write a resume for the first time?
After I graduated from University, I thought job opportunities would fall in my lap left and right. I mean, I had worked so hard and so long demonstrating my intelligence and work ethic in school. Who wouldn’t want to give me a job?!
Boy was I wrong! I must admit, I had an entitled and naïve attitude entering the work force. I thought I deserved a good job. I was very disheartened when I was still jobless 8 months post-graduation.
Not only was I jobless, but I couldn’t even get an interview!
This was because I did not know HOW to write a resume for the first time. This was not something that was taught in classes. I did all the wrong things and my resume was a disaster.
And so I began my journey researching how to write a resume for the first time to successfully land me an interview – or at least an HR phone screen. If you can get them on the phone, you can at least dazzle them with your personality.
Otherwise, you’re just a random name on a piece of paper and landing an interview is tough.
It is especially tough if you’re a new graduate without any experience as most jobs state they require experience. So here are 6 resume writing tips for an effective resume to up your chances at landing an interview, even without experience!
How to write a resume for the first time with 6 tips
Make it concise
Keep it short!
Your resume should be no longer than 2 pages. 1 page is even better. I know… you’re very proud of all of your accomplishments because you worked so hard achieving them. Why can’t you list everything under the sun?
HR and hiring managers look at hundreds of resumes for a job. They probably spend 1 or 2 minutes max looking at a resume.
If your resume does not catch their interest in these precious minutes, they are moving on. They are definitely NOT going to look at page 3 of your resume. It’s actually kind of annoying.
Putting everything in your resume make sit the hiring manager’s job to sift through the resume to find what’s important and relevant. Do not make their job harder.
I have personally done this myself when hiring for a role. Although I only had 50 resumes to look through, the eye strain was exhausting and I definitely spent no more than a couple minutes on a resume.
No way was I going to read page 3!
People with director level positions can keep their resume under 2 pages. So can you! Especially if you’re looking at how to write a resume for the first time – you probably don’t have a vast amount of work experience to list!
Leave white space
Just because you need to keep your resume within 1-2 pages does not mean you should cram as much in there as possible. Do not minimize the margins to the extreme. Do not make the text super small. Do not decrease the line space.
White space is important to have on your resume.
Keep it simple!
This point goes hand in hand with keeping it short – keep it simple when writing your work experience.
Each position you have in your work history should have no more than 3 bullet points under it, highlighting your most important contributions to the company. Each bullet point should have a skill that you are trying to demonstrate.
If it doesn’t, remove it. Only put down what is necessary.
For an effective resume format, each bullet point should start with a) a transferable skill you used to accomplish the task, b) how you accomplished the task with a technical skill, and 3) the results
Transferable skills are skills that can be applied across jobs and are valuable in any situation. These are soft skills and are usually character traits that let managers know your personality.
Are you innovative? Do you think outside the box? Do you have leadership qualities? These are transferrable skills. Let them know!
Technical skills are usually specific to the job. These are the hard skill sets. Can you code? Can you perform statistical tests?
Results are what came of your action.
Example bullet point: Innovative (transferable skill) in implementing a new algorithm (technical skill) to improve efficiency (result!)
How to write a resume for the first time with NO work experience
If you have no work experience, chances are this applies to you if you’re looking at how to write a resume for the first time, you can still use the format above for your bullet points. But instead of looking at your work history, you need to be creative.
You need to pull from any of the life experience you may have for experience. Did you ever volunteer anywhere? Are you a part of a club or organization? What transferable skills (there’s that word again!) can you use to demonstrate your value?
Related: How to write a resume with NO work experience
Add numbers to your resume
Hiring managers love to see numbers! It’s an easy way for them to measure your work and your results. So quantify your results!
In the example above: instead of writing “Innovative in implementing a new algorithm to improve efficiency”, quantify the results with “Innovative in implementing a new algorithm to improve efficiency by 35%”. Doesn’t that sound so much better?!
Tailor your resume
Tailor your resume and your skills to the specific job you are applying for. Read the job description very thoroughly and use the same skills they list as required or desired throughout your resume and how you’ve demonstrated it.
Do not think you can get away with having a generic resume. If you do this, your resume will most likely be automatically filtered out by a computer software called an ATS (automatic tracking software). The ATS will filter out your resume for not meeting the minimum requirements or keywords.
This means your resume will not even be seen by any human eyes. So don’t be lazy and tailor your resume! You should have a version of your resume for every job title you are applying for.
Do not put your education first
Remember when I said managers spend a couple minutes on your resume? That means that the top half of the first page is the most important section. Do not fill up this space by putting your education here.
If you downloaded my free resume template, you’ll see that you can put credentials after your name. Your credentials already say your education.
If your credentials are BSc., this already tells the hiring manager that you have a Bachelor’s of Science degree. Don’t be repetitive. Keep it short and simple!
An exception to this is if you are still a student and have not graduated yet, or you have no work experience – which could be the case if you’re thinking of how to write a resume for the first time.
Show your hobbies (personality)
This one is debatable. Some people say to not put it in. Personally, I like to include it. And it has actually helped in landing me TWO interviews!
Managers want to know who you are. They want to know that you’re a likable person and that you will get along well with the team. After all, they do have to spend 8 hours a day with you.
Even better if they happen to have the same interests and hobbies as you. There’s a connection right there!
So there you have it, 6 simple resume writing tips you should follow when learning how to write a resume for the first time. Unfortunately, a good resume is not all it takes to get you that dream job. You need to set yourself apart from the other hundreds of applicants!
Related: How to get a job fast with 3 essential steps
Free resume template download
How to write a resume for the first time? Here is a free resume template for you to download and use those resume writing tips you just learned. It is in a word format, so just fill in the sections as you go!