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How to Fill Out a Job Application With No Work Experience

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You see an advertisement for a job opening that sounds like a perfect fit, so you rush to your computer to fill out the online application. But, your enthusiasm fades when you see the work experience section. You don't have any previous work experience to report. You might be a recent high school or college graduate, or you might be entering the workforce for the first time. Don't worry; you can present your skills and experiences in a way that assures potential employers that you're qualified and ready to take on the job responsibilities.

Small Jobs and Volunteer Work

List small-scale neighborhood jobs or volunteer opportunities in the work experience section. For example, you might have mowed lawns during the summer, worked as a babysitter or volunteered at your local library or animal shelter. On the job application, list the organization, such as "Wood County Animal Shelter," and discuss your primary responsibilities. If you worked for private individuals, list the individual as your supervisor and leave the employer field blank. Enter the dates you worked, your job duties any pay you received, according to the requested fields on the application.

Extracurricular Activities

Put your involvement in extracurricular activities as work experience if there's no separate section on the application to list those activities. For example, you might write, "Parkersburg High School Basketball, Point Guard and Team Captain 2012-2014. Helped lead team practices, facilitated speed drills, organized fundraisers and prepared equipment for home games." List your coach as your supervisor, but put the title "Coach" in front of her name. Or, you might write, "Parkersburg High School, Math Tutor. Organized tutoring sessions, helped students with algebra, geometry and calculus, and facilitated study groups." List the teacher or adviser who oversees the tutoring department as your supervisor. If the application asks for your hourly wage, leave it blank or put "NA" for not applicable.

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Direction from Human Resources

Call the human resources department or visit the employer's office in person to discuss the work experience section of the application. If you're applying for an entry-level position, the hiring manager might accept your resume listing small jobs and volunteerism in lieu of the work experience section and ask you to staple your resume to the application. Or, the employer might ask for additional personal references to verify your qualifications or ask to see your high school or college transcripts. Don't hesitate to contact the employer because he might see your assertiveness as a positive sign that you're truly passionate about the job opening.

Not Applicable

If the application asks for volunteer work, extracurricular activities or internships in separate fields, write the letters "NA" in the work experience section. Don't leave the section totally blank because you don't want the hiring manager to think you overlooked it. Include as much information as possible in the other application fields, such as your high school or college coursework, good academic grades, hobbies that demanded much of your attention, and participation in community or volunteer events. As long as you've made valuable contributions to your school or community, a hiring manager might not penalize you for a lack of work experience.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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