Writing your first-ever resume can be a challenge. How do you sell yourself to an employer when you’re a student who doesn’t have any experience in your targeted field?
When writing your first resume with no formal work experience, it's appropriate to include casual jobs like babysitting, pet sitting, lawn mowing, and shoveling snow. You can also include volunteering, internships, and school and community activities.
All experience counts, and the best way you present yourself, your skills, and your assets to a hiring manager is to provide them with a strong resume that showcases your own unique talents.
Here's how to write your first resume, what to include, how to show employers the skills you have, a sample resume to review, and a template you can use to get started writing your resume.
Writing Your First Resume
To get started, review information on the different parts of a resume and what is included in each element. It's a good idea to review high school resume examples to get an idea of what is appropriate. Even if you've never held a formal job, you still have important life experience that's applicable to the job search.
Don't forget to look at volunteer work, civic groups, and youth organizations (for example, the Scouts or 4-H). The skills you have developed doing these things have given you valuable experience that will impress employers.
The bottom line is that you actually have a lot more experience than you think you have.
Writing your first resume can seem intimidating, but if you take it step-by-step, you will be able to put together a document that will highlight your abilities and show the hiring manager that you’re worth calling for an interview.
What to Include in Your Resume
Start by mining your life experience and academic achievements to show that you'll be an asset to the company, despite the fact that you don't have any related job titles to show off at this stage in your career.
For your first resume, take the soft skills (also known as “people skills”) you have and show how they translate into success where you choose to apply them. Include volunteer experience, school achievements, sports, clubs, and organizations you belong to.
Scan the job descriptions for the positions to which you're applying. Look for keywords that indicate what the hiring manager values in a candidate.
For example, the job listing might say, "Successful candidate will be a self-starter who delivers on time and on budget." In that case, despite the fact that you don't have relevant work experience in the same field, you can get the hiring manager's attention by being sure to include (and emphasize) projects that you've successfully led, such as high school clubs in which you held a leadership role that required you to manage both your time and the team's money.
Other “people skills” that employers often seek in entry-level job applicants include traits like dependability, good communication and organizational skills, a solid work ethic, and teamwork.
If you start with the job listings instead of with the blank page, the hiring manager's keywords will guide you, and help you focus on which of your academic or after-school experiences have prepared you for this first step in your career.
Once you've compiled a list of what you need in your resume, it should include:
- Contact information
- Experience (casual work, volunteering, clubs, youth organizations, teams)
- Skills (related to the job)
- Awards and Achievements (academic and extracurricular)
Tips Preparing Your First Resume
- Don't lie. No matter how tempting it might be to stretch the truth, lying on your resume is always a bad idea. You might make it through this round of interviews and even get the job, but you won't be able to deliver on the promises your resume offered. Plus, you'll probably be caught—and fired.
- Don't pad. You don't need to include the line "references upon request," or personal information beyond your contact information, or a bunch of unrelated hobbies. In fact, there's a lot of stuff you don't need to put on your resume, even when it's your first one.
- Proofread. Nothing is less persuasive than a resume full of typos and inconsistencies. Have a trusted friend or family member proofread your resume before you submit it.
Resume Template and Example
Download the resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) to use as a starting point for your own resume.
Resume Example (Text Version)
18 Sunnyside Boulevard
Arlington, NY 16543
Arlington High School, Arlington, NY
CLASS OF 2022 (3.9 GPA)
Pet Sitter — Arlington, NY
JUNE 2020 - PRESENT
Established and run successful pet sitting business including dog walking, feeding, and yard care. Responsible for obtaining clients, scheduling and attending visits, organizing visits, and maintaining client relationships.
Soup Kitchen Volunteer — Arlington, NY
SEPTEMBER 2020 - PRESENT
Act as weekend/holiday volunteer manager at local soup kitchen, scheduling volunteer time slots, managing intake of donated food, and assisting with preparation and distribution of meals on Sundays and holidays including, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
Child Care Provider — Arlington, NY
JUNE 2018 – JUNE 2020
Provided child care for several families after school, on weekends, and during school vacations.
AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS
National Honor Society
President of high school Volunteer Club
MVP, Arlington Varsity softball team
More Resume Examples and Templates
Here are more examples that you can use to get ideas for your own resume: