As a fresh graduate looking for your first job, have you ever come across a job advertisement that reads ‘fresh graduates welcomed’ followed by ‘minimum two years’ work experience’? You’re not alone. New graduates often struggle with the eternal dilemma about how they can get a job without any previous work experience or gain relevant experience without having a job in the first place.
Good news is that today’s economic growth is largely driven by digitalisation and sustainability, and young executives are more than prepared for the future of work.
You don’t have to worry if your CV is only a page long. No employer should expect too much from a fresh graduate. If you have no prior working experience, you should be focusing more on what you can bring to the table and how you can add value to your future employer.
what do I put on my resume if I have no experience?
1. think about what your future employer is looking for
As a fresh graduate, it is normal to feel that you do not have enough credentials or experiences to talk about in your CV or during job interviews.
However, there are some things that you can do to increase your chances of landing a new and exciting job opportunity.
• highlight your academic achievements
Your academic assignments, projects and activities that you’ve participated in can give potential employers an idea of your personality, capabilities and skills. Through your extracurricular activities, internships and academic results, they can ascertain if you’re a good fit for the job, culture and team.
• have an overview and keep it short
Most hiring managers and recruiters spend only an average of six seconds on each CV, leaving you with very little time to secure their attention. Present an overview of less than three sentences that highlights your most relevant achievements, experiences and skills - so that you can capture their interest right at the start and entice them to read further.
• use keywords in resumes
Employers and recruitment agencies are using HR technology tools to identify keywords in resumes to reveal the candidate’s skills and job fit. Do some quick research online and use keywords that are specific to the industry, companies and roles that you want to pursue. Support them with examples where possible and be specific about how you’ve applied a skill to solve a problem and achieve your desired outcome
• talk about how your work can impact the workplace
Instead of just sharing your academic results, describe to the interviewer how you’ve contributed to a project or assignment that has led to an actual application in the workplace. You can also discuss how you intend to use what you’ve learned to deliver value to your potential employer.
2. highlight achievements that are relevant to your future employer
It’s easy to just list all of your past achievements and activities in your CV. However, not all of them are relevant to your future employer or career.
Focus on illustrating the instances where you’ve demonstrated your skills that are important for your future employer - such as problem-solving capabilities, being attentive to details or having a strong commercial acumen.
Orinthia Marks, a senior career coach with RiseSmart - a Randstad company - shared that all job seekers (including graduates) should address critical questions when highlighting their credentials. This exercise will help graduates to not only write a better cover letter and CV but also anticipate the questions that the interviewee will ask.
“Knowing which accomplishments employers care about is critical to your entire job search strategy,” Marks said. “An accomplishment is something that you personally did that improved a situation, solved a problem, or made a contribution either in value or substance. Job seekers need to highlight contributions they’ve made that exemplify their skills as a problem solver. My advice is to review all of your achievements and choose the ones most relevant to your field.”
some of these critical questions may include:
- Have you participated in any competitions and what’s your role in your project group?
- Share an example of a situation that happened during your internship or part-time job where you were able to solve the problem on your own.
- What do you think is your strength and how will you apply it in a work environment?
You can also provide references, such as your former employers or lecturers, who can validate and support your efforts to help you stand out even more to prospective employers.
If you’re a fresh graduate and want to find out how you can get a job quickly after graduation, download our Graduate Handbook which includes guidance and tips from our recruitment experts.