Resume & Cover Letter

How to Craft a Resume for Your First Job

By: Thelma Collado
Mar 30, 2021 • 6 min read

How to Craft a Resume for Your First Job

When you’re just starting out and paving the road towards independence, one thing that most people often look for is a job. However, if you’ve never had a job before, it can be daunting to think about writing your resume! This article hopes to touch upon this topic and review certain things you should keep in check as you begin crafting your very first resume. Remember, there is a first time for everything!

woman in teal t-shirt sitting beside woman in suit jacket

Include Unique Experiences

Once you reach the section where you’re required to talk about your past experiences, you can find yourself in the Permission Paradox: you can’t get the job without the experience, but you can’t get the experience without the job.

So if you might find yourself asking about what you can write about, here are a few things that you can list in that section.

  •     Internships: These are offered by organizations or agencies where you can work there as a trainee; some are paid, and some are not.
  •     Volunteer Work: Many places offer volunteer work, and while some organizations need their volunteers to have previous experience, others don’t require it. Volunteer work is also needed within our own schools and communities.
  •     Extracurricular Activities: These activities can take the form of joining a team or club, which can range from sports, art, music and band, language, math, and so much more.
  •     Hobbies: Depending on your personal interests and what you do in your free time, this can show a couple of skills that you’ve been building upon outside of your work time.
  •     Projects: These projects can either be personal, school-related, or work-related. This provides an opportunity to show your accomplishments, dedication, and ability to handle time constraints.

Add a Cover Letter

A cover letter is a document that goes along with your resume and provides details about why you would be the best candidate for the role. There are several different types of cover letters, and each one serves a special purpose. Its certain format could be based on how you will send the letter and resume, how you inquired about the job opening, or any other factors.

When starting off a cover letter, make sure to implement your contact information, such as your email, number, and full name. Depending on the recruiter, they may want the cover letter formatted or written a certain way, so make sure to find out beforehand to write it correctly. Many cover letters and resumes are ignored because the applicants did not follow the instructions correctly. This is an easy way to make sure that you’re one step ahead of your competition, as simple as it may seem.

When writing one, it is often split up into several paragraphs, either three or four, with a greeting, opening, second paragraph, third paragraph, and closing. The opening paragraph introduces yourself in a way that sparks your recruiter’s interest and works off of your job application. The body paragraphs are used to detail your experiences, achievements, and other ways you are well-suited for the job. Make sure to not be repetitive. Your cover letter shouldn’t be another copy of your resume! The final paragraph serves to close and give your regards.

Finally, make sure to keep it short and sweet. Cover letters are meant to be about a page or under, not above that. This is the prerequisite to your resume and shouldn’t go on for too long—it’s meant to intrigue your recruiter and give them positive expectations that will drive them to continue onto your resume.

two man watching smartphone

Keep it Relevant

The qualifications listed for the job you are applying for can be met through these experiences! When listing these, be sure to narrow it down to those relevant to the job you are applying for and where your skills really shined through.

Perhaps you were the president of your club or recruited volunteers for an event your class was planning. You may have even started a small business in your neighborhood! Any of these experiences can be included in your resume. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it and think outside the box!

Utilize Your Academic Experience

While you shouldn’t overly focus on this section, it’s good to make mention of any academic achievements you’ve gotten over the years. If anything can shine through, such as an impressive GPA, certain courses that hold relevance to the job, or any credentials, don’t be afraid to list them down!

Work In Your Soft Skills

Two types of skills can be included within a resume: soft skills and hard skills. It is important to possess both, as they each have their advantages in the workforce.

Soft skills relate to your interpersonal skills and traits that relate to your social and emotional intelligence. When it comes to knowing how to handle a difficult situation, working well with others, or communicating with your team, are all different forms of soft skills. Here are several skills listed below that prove to be helpful in your workplace:

  •     Teamwork: Working well with others, knowing how to work as a team, and not overwhelm yourself with workloads or take too little.
  •     Communication Skills: Being able to listen, speak clearly and in a way that can be understood, observe, and understand.
  •     Flexibility: Being able to go with the flow when things in the workspace start changing.
  •     Work Ethic: Being disciplined, motivated, dedicated, and wanting to put out your best in your job.
  •     Problem-Solving Skills: Being able to analyze the situation and find ways on how to resolve it.
  •     Leadership Skills: The ability to take the lead and guide others in the workplace when needed.
  •     Interpersonal Skills: Those who can communicate well with people, either on a verbal or non-verbal level.

resume for first job

Include Hard Skills in Your Resume for Your First Job

Hard skills, on the other hand, are skills that are acquired through training and education. These skills are necessary to work effectively and efficiently. These skills often come to mind when thinking of skills needed for a job. This includes proficiency in computers, knowing several languages, or having a degree in certain courses. Listed below are several hard skills that can be useful in the workplace.

  •     Technical Skills: These are skills that help perform practical tasks in different areas, such as sciences, maths, arts, engineering, and more.
  •     Analytical Skills: These are skills that are needed to investigate problems and solve issues.
  •     Management Skills: These are skills that include being able to manage projects, execute plans, and make important decisions.
  •     Presentation Skills: These are skills that are needed to deliver presentations that are engaging and effective.
  •     Marketing Skills: These are skills needed to sell products and services and satisfy the customers’ needs.
  •     Writing Skills: These skills include the knowledge and ability to express ideas and use different tones and styles depending on what is needed to be written.
  •     Computer Skills: These are skills that allow you to operate a computer, either with its hardware, software, or both.

Write a Solid Summary

The summary statement comprises a few sentences that compile your current and relevant skills. This is usually one of the first things your recruiter will read! The resume summary doesn’t suit everyone, though, so think it over before deciding whether to include it or not. If you can make your objectives, skills, and previous experiences clear within your statement, as well as grab your reader’s attention, then make sure to include it in your resume!

resume for first job

Pay Attention to Formatting, Style, and Language

When creating a resume, it’s important to figure out the type of resume you’re going to create. There are four types to pick from, and each serves a different purpose:

  •     Chronological: This focuses on your work history, in which your jobs are listed in reverse chronological order.
  •     Functional: This focuses on your skills, experience, and achievements.

Combination: This combines a chronological and a functional resume, where the skills and qualifications are listed first, and then the work history is listed after.

  •     Targeted: This focuses on listing the skills, experience, and achievements most relevant to the job.

Depending on what the job is asking for and how you want to present your information should help you see which one is best for your situation.

Keep It Consistent

When you’re formatting your resume, make sure that everything is consistent. From font type, to sizes, to bullet points, all must remain the same throughout your resume. When you take the time to make sure that it is all formatted in the same manner, it proves that you care about leaving a good impression; it’s also important to be meticulous with these documents and make sure it is all orderly and consistent.

While you want to maintain a professional tone within your resume, avoid flowery language and being overly detailed. An overuse of purple prose can be distracting, confusing, and take away from your original message. The same happens when you’re too caught up in putting everything you’ve done in extreme detail. Your resume needs to be written in such a way that your recruiter knows exactly what you’re trying to say.

After you’ve finished writing it, make sure to proofread it several times if you have to! Whether it’s cutting out any filler words, including action verbs, making sure everything is written in the same tense and is grammatically correct, proofreading can help perfect your resume!

resume for first job

Final Thoughts

There are definitely certain things that can be taken into consideration to help curate an amazing resume. Above all, it’s important to be honest, direct, and use what you can to your advantage. Allow your experience to shine! 

What are your tips for crafting the perfect resume for your first job? Comment down below and let us know! We would love to hear from you.

 More to Explore:

What Jobs Do I Include on My Resume?

Cover Letter Template 

No Previous Experience? Here’s How To Craft Your Resume

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