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10 Valuable Things to Add to Your Resume When You Lack Traditional Work Experience
Your resume is almost always the first point of contact between you and a prospective employer, and they receive so many resumes, they only have a few seconds to look at yours and make a judgment. It’s tricky to put together an awesome resume that’s both eye-catching and filled with the right material, and doubly so when you lack traditional work experience. But that hasn’t stopped countless job seekers from crafting a resume that gets them the job, so read on to find out the top 10 things you need to start putting on your resume now.

1. Travel

At first glance, telling a prospective employer about your list of vacations seems like the wrong way to go about getting a job, but that’s because you have to word it strategically. Instead of rattling off all the beaches you swam at, angle it about the work experience you had there, such as attending a conference in Aruba or a seminar in Australia.

2. Pet Projects

Forgetting about listing things like teaching yourself to knit a cashmere sweater, and focus on highlighting pertinent ones that relate to your field of expertise. For example, if you’re in marketing, including on your resume the fact that you taught yourself computer programming shows you not only have the wherewithal to be disciplined enough to teach yourself an advanced skill, but that you also have the ability to do multiple jobs at the company (such as creating a great website that can land more clients).

3. Volunteering

Having a lack of traditional work experience signifies, for better or for worse, that you didn’t work a regular 9-to-5 job. But if you can show you did selfless, philanthropic things with that time while honing your skills that can make you stand out even more to hiring managers. It shows you care about things other than yourself, which is a really nice quality to have attached to your name.

4. Seminars, Workshops and Training

Just writing down all the jobs you worked at in the last 10 years isn’t enough, as employers want to see that you’re constantly making an effort to improve yourself. And if you’ve taken training courses, that’s a clear indication to prospective employers you’ve taken it upon yourself to be as up-to-date as possible.

5. Internships

Although you should be careful of the kind of internships you worked at, listing a small handful shows you’ve already had success in beating out other candidates. To hiring managers, this is a signal that you already come as a polished product and require less hands-on handling than other candidates. Plus, it also shows you have experience in your desired field.

6. Mentors

Nobody likes a name-dropper — except when it comes to your resume. If you’ve had the privilege to be tutored by experts in your field, list them and what you learned. Not only does this show you have the ability to network and make contacts, but it also points to the fact that you’ve been taught important lessons by professionals.

7. Awards and Recognition

Being recognized for your efforts tells people you know how to do a great enough job that others are willing to publicly acknowledge it, as well as being able to rise ahead of the pack. But don’t list things like “Employee of the Month” from your time at McDonald’s, but rather awards like “Top Seller of 2012”, or something else related to the job you’re trying to get.

8. Hard Facts and Figures

Your resume is all about you, yes, but it should also be about how you delivered results to other people. After all, the main reason an employer hires someone is because they think that candidate can improve the company better than all the other applicants. So instead of writing you were the sales manager at Company X, write down the percentage of the sales quota you improved.

9. Social Media Information

Putting down your LinkedIn account information seems like the obvious one here, but things like Facebook and Twitter should be added, too. To employers, you’re sending the message that you don’t have secrets in your personal life that would affect your work productivity, and that you’re happily inviting them to vet you more thoroughly than they could with simply a resume. Just be careful and hide/delete any possibly incriminating information that could lead to you getting the boot before you’ve even started.

10. Sports Teams

If you play in a semi-competitive baseball league on the weekends, amateur tennis during the summer, or compete in cycling races, list this on your resume. You’re telling employers that a) you have a competitive streak inside of you that’ll transfer over to work, b) you have the ability to play as part of a team, and c) you’re a well-balanced individual who can balance the demands of work and socializing with ease. Employers frequently look for the intangible aspects that separate candidates, so you want to make sure you can put yourself at the top of the list.


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