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Resumes for First Time Job Applicants

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Putting together a resume for the very first time can be a scary proposition. The lack of professional experience in a particular field may seem like a tremendous obstacle to overcome. When faced with this situation, though, it is time to think outside the box and consider other factors which can show a potential employer that you are ready to handle the responsibility of employment.


A resume is a document someone uses to establish herself as a viable candidate for a position of employment. The resume itself will be set up in one of hundreds of possible templates. Even though resumes can appear in a variety of manners, they typically contain similar components. These components include: qualifications or objectives, education and work history.

Objectives and Qualifications

A typical resume heading will include a name, address and phone number. Directly under this heading objectives or qualifications should be listed. This is an opportunity for an applicant to show determination and self-motivation. Without an extensive work history, it is important to demonstrate a willingness to take on responsibilities and set goals.

Some people prefer to list qualifications instead of objectives. Either will be a critical part of the resume, but the qualifications focus more on individual talents and skill, valuable for an applicant who is applying to work for the first time. It tells the potential employer upfront as to why the applicant should be considered for employment.


People develop skills while in school which translate very well to the work world. Completing assignments, being on time, and respect for those in charge—like teachers—are all practical applications to employment. The educational system helps develop and promote the ability of critical thinking, a valued skill in the workplace.

Beyond showing a potential employer these skills, education can be used to help someone who is turning in a job application for the first time. Teachers and professors are often willing to write letters of recommendations for students who have completed the required coursework. These recommendations from an educator can help overcome the lack of experience.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are an excellent addition to a resume. Athletics are one form of activity that displays many valuable skills to a potential employer: an understanding of the value of hard work, being part of a team and striving to accomplish a common goal. Non-athletic activities can also help one without an established work history; being a member of a club indicates organization, motivation and a willingness to go above and beyond expected duties.

Volunteer work

In addition to its intrinsic reward, volunteer work looks great on a resume—and can be a legitimate substitute for work experience. Often volunteering does constitute a form of work: in a typical volunteer opportunity, a group of individuals set out to accomplish a task together. This task might be feeding homeless people or building a house with an organization like Habitat for Humanity. Involvement with volunteer organizations displays a solid work ethic and a sense of community responsibility.

Cover Letter

Another important tool for an individual without work experience is the cover letter. A cover letter is frequently submitted with a resume, providing greater detail and expanding upon various qualifications. When a person does not have work experience, she can use the cover letter to show critical thinking skills and the ability for higher reasoning. It enables her to place greater emphasis on skills, such as leadership or organization.