How to update your resume when you don’t have a lot of experience
It may be hard to believe that a single document holds the key to your career in 2022—but it’s true. As a jobseeker, your resume is your first impression, a reflection of your personal brand, and it determines whether you get that coveted interview.
How you describe yourself, your experience, and the skills you have matters. For those who are early in their careers or career changers with little or no on-the-job experience in their chosen field, how you position yourself is critical to getting noticed and moving on to the next step.
Even solid resumes can use some sprucing up before going after new opportunities. So whether you’re looking to make updates or just getting started, there are several ways to make your resume stand out.
Four Tips for Updating Your Resume
1. Overcome a lack of experience with a skills-based focus
Let’s be honest, work experience can often feel like a chicken and egg scenario. Employers want someone with experience, but to get experience, an employer needs to take a chance on you. It can feel discouraging when every job description asks for multiple years of experience in a related field.
This is where a focus on your skills is key. For instance, if you’ve worked in the food service industry, you have strong customer service and problem-solving skills that would apply to a career in banking, marketing, or technology. There are a wealth of transferable skills you can include in your resume such as customer service, time management, organization, teamwork, and problem-solving.
Remember your skills also include software and technology use. Your resume should list experience with applications like Microsoft Word, point of service software, or scheduling programs.
Include any advancements or promotions you received in your previous roles as well as awards and accolades. Details like these highlight your dependability and work ethic.
Finally, any training or certifications you’ve received bolsters your skill set. Whether it’s a day of customer service training or an online course in social media use, it all paints a picture of an employee who cares about their professional development.
2. Don’t overlook the small details
It can be tempting to craft a resume with bells and whistles, but resist the urge. A clear, concise, and simple resume has a better chance of landing you an interview than a resume format with wild fonts, text colors, and images.
Instead, focus on reviewing your resume to ensure it is accurate and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Two of the biggest mistakes jobseekers can make are submitting resumes with typos and formatting mistakes. A resume without errors signals to employers that you have strong attention to detail.
Formatting like font, text size, bullet points, and headings should be consistent throughout your resume document. Also, ensure your employment dates and your job titles are correct in the event the potential employer calls to verify. Inaccurate information is a red flag for hiring managers.
3. Showcase success using numbers
Numbers and metrics related to your job performance are proof points for employers. And while it might be challenging to secure sales or transaction data, there are ways to get creative.
Identify how many customers you served, IT tickets you resolved, or projects you managed in a day, week, or month, whichever measure is most appropriate. Consider how often you received positive feedback—anything that illustrates and helps quantify what doing a good job looks like.
When detailing success metrics, set them up with strong, past-tense action verbs. Pick the three to five most impactful metrics, for example:
- Closed a minimum of 25 tickets a day
- Oversaw five employees in two different departments
- Completed a project one month ahead of schedule due to improvements in efficiency
4. Tailor your resume to each job you apply for
You may think that once you create a resume, it can be submitted for every single job you apply for. After all, your experience hasn’t changed, so why should your resume? Here’s why it should be tailored.
Many companies rely on an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help recruiters collect, sort, and filter job applications. The ATS scans each application for keywords that match the job qualifications. If your resume is too generic and not tailored to the specific job, it may never make it into the recruiter’s hands.
To be clear, tailoring your resume does not mean copying and pasting job qualifications into your document to beat the ATS bots. Keyword copying or stuffing won’t do you any favors in the end. It’s a bit more nuanced than that.
Look for skills or certification requirements that appear multiple times in a job posting. Assuming you have those top skills, highlight them. If you don’t have some of them, you might reconsider whether you’re a fit for that particular position.
Your resume is a reflection of you
You have so much to offer companies and employers. That’s the case whether you have 10+ years of experience, a single work-based apprenticeship, or you’ve just graduated from a training program. We all have strengths, skills, passions, and potential.
The key to landing an interview, and eventually a job, is to find the best way to communicate your strengths and skills in your resume. A well-organized, clearly written, and purposefully detailed resume will stand out to both an ATS as well as a hiring manager.
If you’d like to learn more about job search strategies, personal branding, and resume creation, join us for free career advice at our Jobseeker Bootcamp. The bootcamp takes place every month with 45-minute trainings Tuesday-Friday from 1pm-1:45pm ET / 10am-10:45am PT over Zoom. Register today!