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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

How to make a resume for a first job

23 min read
How to write a resume for a first job
Artwork by:Alexandra Shevchenko
Use your past to hint at your potential and let your personality shine. Let's explore how to secure a fantastic first job.

Sitting down to write a resume for your first job can be daunting. 

But, do you know what? You have more relevant things to say than you think.

Any first-time resume may be low on experience, but that does not mean that it has to be low on personality or potential. You have lived through many situations which will allow you to make a resume for first job to shine a light on who you are and what you might be capable of. No one expects you to be the finished article, so you merely need to give a few suitable hints when you write your resume.

We would like to explore a few considerations for anyone making that nervous first job resume. We design the most attractive resume and cover letter templates, but we also aim to give you some inspiration as you sit down and stare at that fateful blank page before writing (the Smart Writing Suggestion system in our resume builder also helps, but that’s another story entirely).

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Let’s be honest, when you are contemplating how to make your resume for a first job, there is nothing scarier than a blank page, but when you get into it you will surprise yourself at just how much you might want to say. The key to writing a great resume for a first job lies in choosing the right messages.

Expert tip

Do I need to make a resume for my first job? Yes, you do! Making a resume for first job is an essential part of the job seeking process. No matter what your previous experience, you haven't been living alone in a cave and you might be surprised at just how relevant your experiences have been. Steer what might otherwise be an awkward interview in the direction that you wish it to take by making your resume reflect what you want to say.

Sample resume for first job

This sample resume offers an insight into what a resume for a first job might look like. We have many other resume writing examples across our website that might offer inspiration (such as our blog or free library of 250+ profession-specific guides), so this is intended to pull together some of our advice in this article.

Check out this example of a first job resume, crafted with all of the best hiring practices in mind:

Sample resume for first job
Sample resume for first job

The best summary for a first job resume

Any employer will expect the first few words of a resume summary for a first job resume to be full of your unique personality. You might not have many work-related achievements to boast about and the ink on your college exams might not have quite dried, but the summary in your first resume is not about where you have been. Make your resume about who you are and where you want to go.

The summary for a first job CV is like a mission statement. This is me, and here is why I believe that we can get there together. Make the resume clear about how you get things done and showcase your attitude. Choose adjectives with care and keep the summary brief but powerful.

Statistical insight

Actively looking for your first job or internship is the first step to success! So, be proud rather than embarrassed. Consider internships as an example of a scenario where it’s completely OK to not have work experience when you make your resume:

A 2017 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that college graduates who had completed an internship received more job offers than those who had not. Remember that nobody expects job experience from an intern!

Think about how your career objectives fit in with the position – if you describe a dream job that is unlike the role in question, your chances of securing an interview will plummet. Make your first job resume summary to compel a hiring manager to invite you to an interview – and sometimes it is the only part of the resume that will be read in any detail.

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How to write an employment history for your first job resume

Describing your experience in a first job resume should be seen in the broader context of how your activities thus far have contributed to make you a high-potential hire. You may have had limited work experience, so you need to write a resume work experience section (or just ‘Experience’ section if you haven’t had temp or summer jobs) that shows relevant skills and qualities from any of your other life activities.

Paid work experience. Any paid work should feature prominently on your resume. You may feel that your voluntary work has more relevant experience, but nothing beats sharing evidence of having the responsibility to deliver on a job and get remunerated for it. Most first job resume employment histories are filled with examples of “basic” college jobs that bring in some money for socialising (etc), and these roles are far from worthless. 

Casual jobs. We have all had casual jobs through our school and university years, and while it might not seem exciting to let a future employer know that you worked on the tills in a shop for a summer, a tourist guide for a season or an au pair working abroad, including casual jobs will portray you as hardworking and dedicated. Make your first job resume casual job section brief if it is not central to your future activity, but you never know what you might bond over during an interview.

Volunteering. Sticking your hand up and opting to do something for free demonstrates passion and interest. If that volunteering activity aligns with your future job, it is an ideal way of proving that your heart is in the right place. If your experience includes volunteer work, make sure to make it part of your first job resume structure when you write the CV. It will significantly improve your image in the eyes of the hiring manager.

Expert tip

Remember that you can re-order resume sections in our resume maker .  Follow the general advice in our guide but also use your common sense: customize, create new sections and drag them around to see what works. For example, if you have a LOT of volunteer experience or more than 1-2 academic rewards, consider making a dedicated section for those… and maybe even make that section 1st or 2nd from the top so it jumps out!

Extracurricular. Whether you starred in a university production, played in a successful sports team, or learned an instrument to a high standard, sharing how your character has developed through your extracurricular activities is a valid way of sharing your personality with a prospective employer. Tease out the most relevant details for the role in question and make your first job resume a testament to your extracurricular pursuits. 

Education. College credentials should obviously feature prominently in your first job resume as they should the culmination of years of hard work. You should include details such as your grade average if it is over a 3.0. Consider including any relevant coursework or side-projects if the profession is particularly intellectually demanding. The rigors of higher education demand many skills that are also required in the workplace.

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The best skills for a first job resume

Deciding on the words that you use to describe your experience is central to making the right impression. While anyone can wax lyrical about softer behavioural traits, the best skills for writing a first job resume are measurable and evidenced with factual and situational examples.

Read the job description carefully – what sort of first job resume skills would a successful employee be expected to possess? Make a resume for first job with real examples to highlight these skills.

Soft skills. Whether you have managed others in a group project, helped customers in a store or over the phone, or done something individually creative, your future job will demand a certain mix of softer behavioural skills . Talk about how you have achieved things with others and give a sense that you are keen to develop. 

Hard skills. While soft skills are easier to exaggerate, the more quantifiable hard technical skills are what might make your resume jump to the top of the pile. Experience with office software and social media will rank highly and if you are going into a more technical profession, the ability to learn a programming language might speak volumes.

Your first job resume skills section is critical because it is an opportunity to show that you have an ability to learn something difficult. If you choose the most impressive examples, they might not be directly related to the role, but they do demonstrate growth potential.

Expert tip

How do you write a resume with one job? You should remember that your CV is a window onto all your life experiences - in the early stages of your career, jobs are just part of your story. By all means, expand as much as you can on the relevant aspects of your work experience, but whether you are making your resume for your first job or your second job, there is plenty more content that you can include.

First job resume templates

Selecting a first job resume template is an intensely personal choice, but we hope that we have a template that might suit any situation and personality.

There are, however, certain templates that may actually help to make a resume for first job. The style should be minimalist, the skills section should be prominent and the font may be slightly larger than usual. Don’t fall into the trap of filling the page with a wall of text when half of it is “filler.” White space gives the reader the opportunity to think and rest their eyes (a vitally important thing in a sort of visual design).

The Vienna template offers a bold design and a larger than average font, with an eye-catching section for rating the impact of your skills. The colourful header is more acceptable for a first resume template and you can be sure that it will make you stand out from the crowd if the hiring manager needs to find your resume again from amongst the pile. Many of our resume templates have choices of color scheme.

The Creative resume template category is a popular pick for first job resumes that are looking to create an original feel. The bold section highlights of the Madrid template leave the reader with the impression that a candidate really has something to say. Do not hide from your lack of experience and put your best foot forward with confidence. You wouldn’t believe how many resumes are a few uninspiring lines on a Word document.

For those who prefer a cleaner look, the Berlin first resume template has dividing lines between the sections to allow you to differentiate your experiences. Lines tend to make a reader pause and reflect on what they have read before moving on, so when your resume is one in a hundred, every second more that they spend thinking about your candidacy is a bonus. There is also an argument to suggest that a great resume template should let a candidate’s experience speak for itself, so the Professional resume templates category is a good choice as well.

Expert tip

What should a first job resume look like? To start with, when you write a resume for first job, it should not be longer than one page. Even if you have the most fascinating life story, if your work experience is lacking, you should seek to keep the highlights onto just one page. Focus on the relevant experience for the role in question and you shouldn't have too much trouble keeping it brief and powerful.

Statistical insight

Here are some insights from the first job resume templates that are made with the builder on Resume.io .

First Job Title Number of resumes created
Sales associate 122067
Waiter/waitress 81891
Cashier 70295
Receptionist 52034
Intern 51111
Sales assistant 47350
Barista 42344
Customer service representative 31917
Hostess 17405
Shop assistant 13207

The best resume examples for a first job

There is nothing like browsing a few examples to inspire you when writing your first resume. Here are a few from 100s of our free samples to share some typical early job resumes:

Sales Assistant. One of the most common routes into a first job is a continuation of part-time employment that commenced in college. The first rung of the ladder in meritocratic industries such as retail, banking, healthcare and many others often involves considerable amounts of menial work and admin, so many sure that you make a resume for first job to showcase your work ethic.

Telemarketing . While this telemarketing resume sample includes a longer stretch of initial experience, much of the information within it could be included as part of a fresher resume sample. Many graduates will have undertaken telemarketing work and the skills contained within will be relevant for many corporate roles. Make a resume for first job that includes: marketing, communication, customer service and problem solving.

Tutor. Many students will have undertaken tutoring work to earn a little extra cash and there is great value in understanding how to learn when you are teaching someone else. Again, this sample contains a couple of positions, but most student tutors will have the same experiences. Understanding the perspective of others via active listening is a critical skill in a loud and busy workplace.

Internship There are certain white-collar professions such as law and finance where an internship is a coveted and prestigious first role, so this resume sample and guide is particularly valuable indication of what you might want to include when you are talking about taking your first steps.

A different source of inspiration that can help fresh graduates make a first resume is the summary sections of various LinkedIn profiles. You can filter profiles by years of experience, and it is interesting to see how others in your future industry describe themselves. It goes without saying that you too should have a LinkedIn profile, much of which should be a duplicate of what is on your resume.

Expert tip

What should a teenager put on a resume? While school grades should feature prominently as this gives an indication of many useful qualities, when a teenager is writing a resume for a first job, their potential employer will be more interested in what they have to say about their personality and what they want to get out of their career. Ambition and motivation are everything when you are a teenager, so fill your teenage first job resume with stories of energy, drive and determination.

How to make a resume for first job after a long career gap

If you sit down to make your resume after a long gap of 7+ years (for whatever reason), it can somehow feel that you are actually making the resume for your first job. None of your long-forgotten experience seems relevant any more and you might even have forgotten how it feels like to work with other people. That is incredibly daunting.

Luckily, as you search your memories for relevant stories, making your "first job" resume will not be as tricky as you think. Just start by being honest with yourself. You have to acknowledge that things will have moved on since you last put on a suit in anger, and you should definitely not try to shoe-horn experience into your story for the sake of it.

Making the resume relevant is about making links between past and present. The activities may not have been identical, but if you acknowledge what has changed and highlight the commonalities, that is a great start of a potentially profitable conversation.

How to write a fresher resume: tips and tricks

It might feel like writing a fresher resume with a seemingly small amount of experience might prove tricky, but once you get going on your story, you will be surprised by the amount that you actually have to tell. Here are some resume writing tips to make the most of your personal sales pitch:

Be honest and factual. When contemplating what to include in their fresher resume format, a feeling of inadequacy may tempt recent grads to embellish and even invent experiences. This is a job search cardinal sin – lying on your resume can lead to you losing your job at a later point. Avoid flowery statements and include as many facts and hard skills as possible.

Find value in everything you have done. You may feel a little embarrassed to include certain parts of your experience when you write your resume for freshers, but as long as you tease out what is relevant, even something like babysitting can show that you are responsible and trustworthy. The hiring manager likely learned a few similar lessons in their younger days.

Does it sound like you? It is important to make a resume for first job that reflects who you are, because if there is a dissonance at interview hiring managers will become wary. Ask a few people close to you to read the fresher resume format through – there is nothing worse than putting on an act to secure your first job. Be yourself and get a job that you will enjoy.

Mirror the job description. Although you might be starting out in your career, an employer will expect you to feel like someone that they can mould and develop. A great way to achieve an initial connection is to make a resume for first job the language and tone of the job description in your resume for college graduates . Portray yourself as “one of them” before you get to the interview.

Convey your transferable skills. It is not enough to mention that you had a part time job as an office assistant – you have to share the most relevant transferable skills about that experience. This requires a solid understanding 

Use action verbs and compelling language. Think about the sorts of activities in your future role and imagine the sorts of conversations that you will be having in future team meetings. Use action verbs and language that you think will be part of the office speak. If you do not have much experience to share, making a first job resume using powerful action verbs gives you added dynamism.

Proofread it (at least) five times. Last, but definitely not least, make sure that there are no silly mistakes lurking that could make a hiring manager think twice about your attention to detail. This is a basic expectation for any graduate, so don’t fail this test. Use software such as Grammarly to make your resume - you won't regret it.

Hopefully sitting down to write your first job resume won’t seem so scary now.

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All the tips, tools, templates, and examples you need to learn how to write a resume in 2022

You undoubtedly have so much to tell, so pick a resume template for your first job and get to it!

Build your resume in 15 minutes
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested resume templates that follow the exact ‘resume rules’ employers look for.
Create My Resume
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested resume templates that follow the exact ‘resume rules’ employers look for.
Create My Resume
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