4 Things That Fresh Graduates Without Work Experience Can Highlight On Their Resume

It is common among new graduates like you to have an “empty” resume, since you’re fresh out of college. You may not have prior work experience that’s directly related to your field to cite; say, you only worked summer jobs or held a part-time position at the local fast-food joint.

That’s okay, because there are ways to jazz up your resume, without padding it. Jamie Hughes, a career consultant and author of the book, Marginal Gains: 88 Ways to improve your CV and kick start your career, emphasizes on the importance of including what you think are mundane experiences that could otherwise show your strengths and value in a workplace.

“All work experience should be included that is of equal value if not greater value to academic achievement. Real-world job skills and the ability to succeed in a workplace is critical to long term success and will assure an employer you are reliable, punctual and can work with people,” he tells Get Over Your Job.

Below are some more information from your job, academic or extracurricular history that you can highlight on your resume:


What was your undergraduate thesis about? You can dedicate a few lines of your resume to a quick description of your thesis. Hughes is a firm believer in including the thesis of graduate students in the absence of relevant work experience.

“A well described thesis is a much better use of space than the same generic descriptions of the same modules that all graduates do,” Hughes tells Get Over Your Job. “It is the only thing that separates one graduate from another. A well-selected and interesting thesis will get noticed. The grade in the thesis is critical as it is the one piece of work that is completed completely independently. This shows the actual standard of the student.”

It could be a conversation starter, too. “It can be a good ice breaker at interview if the interviewer is interested in the topic,” he adds.

Seminars and Workshops Attended

Seminars and workshops that you’ve attended also make your CV substantial. They reflect the skills or ideas you’ve learned that are not limited to academic topics.

Let’s say you’ve attended a seminar on business etiquette or public speaking. Any employer who finds this on your resume will definitely consider you for an interview. It suggests that you know how to handle or present yourself to people, and can be a good asset to a team.

Any online courses that you have taken also count, so be sure to note those in your resume as well. Recruiters recognize the value of online education and blended learning, and place more stress on how you apply these knowledge on the job. They’d be willing to give you a shot when you have online certifications under your belt.  

Volunteer Work

Details on any volunteer work you did, whether for the Salvation army, a halfway home, or charity, are crucial to your resume. This tells employers that you care about causes. In the United States, for instance, a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service has proven that volunteering is correlated with employment.

The study reveals that those who has volunteering experience has 27% higher chance of getting hired. Applicants without a high-school diploma and lived in rural areas saw the most benefit from their volunteering. The data was consistent regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, time, location and its unemployment rate.

Published Works

Have you written a piece that was published in the student paper or, better yet, a scholarly journal? Ever done a guest post for a reputable blog? Hughes agrees that these are worth mentioning in your CV, as well.

“Fresh graduates should include links to anything they have written for journals and websites. Blogs are fine too as long as the quality is consistent and the blog is regularly updated. A blog with two entries and the last one being six months ago should be avoided,” he notes.

It’s a given for a new grad to be confused on what to add to his or her resume. Worry not because there’s always a detail about your work or academic history that you can use to give your CV an edge. Hope the above resume writing tips help! 

(Featured Image Credit: PEXELS; GIPHY: 1, 2)

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