You've probably heard the expression, "You need experience to get experience." When seeking to land that first job, you will find yourself faced with the task of demonstrating that you have the background to succeed despite your lack of job history. Build a resume that highlights your talents despite a lack of job experience.
Start with an objective statement that articulates your strengths and goals. You might say, "Recent graduate with academic expertise in environmental policy, ecological design and environmental education, seeking an entry level position related to environmental justice." Or you could write, "Seeking an administrative position that utilizes my passion for customer service, excellent communication skills and acute attention to detail."
Highlight your education. If you have completed high school or college course work, create a subsection titled "Relevant Course Work" and list the classes you have successfully completed. While you will eventually replace this section with professional experience as your career matures, this information is helpful to hiring managers when examining recent graduates and entry-level candidates.
Translate achievements into professional credentials. While you may not have any paid employment under your belt yet, you've likely accomplished a lot. Make a list of as many past achievements as you can think of (but try to stay within the last five years unless it's something relevant). Break them down into professional credentials. For example, one header might read, "Public Speaking" under which you list the presentations you gave as president of the key club, your acting experience with the drama troupe and that conference you got invited to your senior year. Other categories might include "Volunteer Experience," "Youth Leadership," "Writing" or "Project Management."
Set realistic goals. While you may have graduated at the top of your class, you're unlikely to immediately land a position as the Regional Director of Marketing. Many companies have sections on their employment websites specifically targeted toward entry-level employees. Keep an eye on these opportunities. Once you've broken into the workforce, you may be surprised at how quickly you can move up.
Continue to build your experience. Now that you have a basic resume, you will continue to build upon it over the life of your career. If you know where you want to be in 5-10 years, consider asking someone who's already made it there to sit down with you for an informational interview. Show him your resume and ask for feedback. He can also provide you with advice about things you can do to continue building your credentials, such as earning certifications, taking on new roles through volunteer work or getting involved with professional societies.
Keep your resume to one page. The average employer spends about 7 seconds looking at your resume. They are looking to see how you have presented yourself on paper (ie: Are there spelling errors? Is the resume easy to read?) and how well your credentials match the job opening. Do not invent a job history that you do not have. Most hiring managers will verify at least your three most recent jobs. Getting caught in such a lie could be fatal to your professional reputation.