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The First Jobber: What To Put On Your Resume If You Have No Job Experience

Updated: May 23, 2019

By Kausern Hieu, Country Manager of Nuffnang Malaysia. |

The First Jobber series is designed to help fresh graduates make that transition from student to employee. There are a lot of mistakes you can make and a lot of time wasted if you don’t know what to look out for. Personally, I wasted a lot of my precious time trying to figure all these out by myself after I graduated.

Hence, as an employer now, I wish to share some tips and actionable steps with you with the hope of helping you secure the job that you want and subsequently for you to adjust well into your first job.


As you’re preparing your resume and start applying for your first job, you may be wondering, “How can I stand out from the sea of applicants for a job that I really want even though the job advertisement reads:

‘Fresh graduates are welcomed to apply. Applicants with work experience will have an added advantage.’?”

As an employer myself, the good news is that we will not be expecting much from a fresh graduate because you do not have a job experience to begin with. So, if you can articulate clearly in your resume what value you can bring to your future employer’s table and provide evidence to support it, you will definitely stand out.

Here are some pointers to get you started on crafting out a convincing resume to get you noticed.

1. Research, research, research

Researching is one of the best strategies to discover insights about the dream job you’re eyeing for. The details you’ll uncover about the job and your potential employer will put you ahead of the other candidates vying for the same position.

“What should I be researching for?” The answer: Everything you can find. Ok, that could require too much unnecessary effort. So, here are some areas you should be investigating:

  • The skills required for the job advertised

  • How the company makes money

  • The company’s products, services and clients

  • The company’s vision, mission, culture and values

  • The key players in the organization

By knowing what your hiring employer is looking out for, you will then know exactly how you can add value to them via your resume.

2. Include a cover letter with your resume

Most employers will not have the time to read your entire resume. So, by attaching a cover letter together with your resume, you are helping your potential employer to save time and make a quicker decision to move you to the next stage.

A cover letter is the golden opportunity for you to state your case why you’re the perfect candidate for this job. This is where all your research work will come to play.

Try to summarize all that you’ve investigated into a few key words and include this list of keywords in your cover letter. Another tip is to include some of the keywords found in the job ad itself. As a hiring manager, when I come across these keywords, it will stop me in my tracks because you’re speaking the same “language”. It tells me that you cared enough to find out more about the job and the company.

I found this piece of resource on how to write the perfect cover letter. This should be helpful to you.

3. Have a summary statement in your resume

While the cover letter gives you the space the express your personality, the summary statement serves to double verify your claims. The summary statement is usually positioned at the top of the page just after your name and contact details. It is essentially a summary of your relevant skills and experiences which the position offered requires.

Even though your summary should only be two to three sentences, you need to invest some time and creativity here. Like it or not, it’s the hiring manager’s first impression of you. This humble paragraph will either repel or entice them to keep reading your resume.

In terms of content, focus on what you can do for the employer. You can include some of your research keywords here too. And avoid using generic adjectives such as, “hardworking”, “team player” and “result-oriented”. I mean, who isn’t?

Here’s a good sample of a fresh graduate applying for a marketing position:

A Business Management graduate with practical understanding of business needs. Successfully led a team in acquiring sponsorships for a university-wide campaign, while meeting the deadlines and budget requirements. My internship experience provided me a foundational understanding of consumer insights and marketing intelligence.

4. Include your internship experience

Internship experience is one of the best weapons you have against candidates with experience. It’s the closest to “real-world” work. So be sure to list down any internship exposure you had, whether it’s part of your university requirements or your own initiative, and the subsequent skills you have acquired.

5. Include any extra curricular activities

If you follow my drift by now, I can’t emphasize enough that employers are always looking out for evidence of some kind of “real work” experience in a fresh graduate’s resume. So, do highlight any extracurricular and even volunteer activities you are involved in eg. Owning a pop-up store at a bazaar, work as a kitchen hand in a Soup Kitchen, a lifeguard instructor trainer etc.

Employers are seeking out transferable skills that would be useful for the job offered.

6. Highlight relevant subjects you took during your education

State down clearly what you have studied in college/university that will be useful to the hiring manager. List down the subjects, the grades and a summary what you learned from these classes.

7. Provide references

In comparison to a candidate with work experience, providing a reference is not as important for a fresh graduate. Nevertheless, there is no harm to include your internship employer or your lecturers who will be able to validate your achievements when your prospective employers enquire.

Here’s another bonus tip: pay attention to details. Make sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors or any other errors that will make your resume look unprofessional. I’ve rejected countless of resumes because of such errors. Get someone else to read it to spot any mistakes you might have missed.

In closing, there isn’t a silver bullet to write a winning resume. The strategy is to customize your resume for each job you apply because different job postings from different companies will require different skillsets. By appealing to each individual employer’s needs and job requirements, the higher the chances your application will get noticed and shortlisted to the interview stage. Remember to highlight your list of relevant skills, relevant subjects you took and any type of job-like experience when you don’t have any work experience. Trust me, it will be just a matter of time you’ll land an interview.

If you have any further queries about this topic, please leave a comment or write to crunch@nuffnang.com

Next article from this series: The First Jobber: How To Standout In And Interview for New Graduates

Previous article: The First Jobber: Should I Apply to Work in A Big Company or a Small Company?

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