In case you missed it earlier this week on our social media platforms, we announced our official partnership with the MACK Youth Foundation here in Detroit! We are incredibly excited for the opportunity to create and now offer a new Career Assistance Program for Detroit’s youth. There’s a lot more to this story, and you’ll be hearing more about it in the future - but for now, consider donating to the MACK Youth Foundation here for our #givingtuesday campaign. 100% of all proceeds will go directly to the foundation, and support their efforts to bring effective tools to the youth across our great city, and empower them to go on to do great things!
In honor of this amazing collaboration [and what we’ll be focusing on with these students in the near future], we wanted to touch briefly on how to go about landing your first job. Whether you’re a student or recent graduate, or potentially changing careers altogether, and you don’t feel that you have any relevant experience under your belt, we’ve got some essential tips you should follow to successfully land that first stepping stone!
Look Deeper Into Your Skills
As we like to say a lot - no two resumes are ever the same - but we do always emphasize that your best qualities should be right at the top. Usually, this is a highlighted area of your most relevant experience, but what do you do when you don’t have any?
Don’t waste this prime real estate on your resume for just your contact information! This is a great spot to put down your relevant hard and soft skills.
And telling us that you don’t have any doesn’t fly well either. Think a little deeper into why you are applying for this job in the first place. Why do you think you can do the job? Whatever those reasons are, they are going to include skills that you developed somewhere - even if it’s int eh classroom. Academic projects, working in groups, time management to get your homework done - ALL OF THESE ARE SKILLS!
So instead of hiding that skills section on your resume, when you’re lacking the applicable background and experience for a new job, pop them right at the top next to your education.
Academic Projects Are Fair Game
There’s a reason why they consider students either full-time or part-time. Because going to school is WORK and is basically replacing your time that you’d be spending at a job, inside a classroom. That being said, all of those academic projects and assignments you worked on are fair game when it comes to showcasing your knowledge and abilities.
Can you clearly outline certain academic projects into what you did, what you accomplished, and what you learned? Then put it on your resume! Instead of listing a “Professional Experience” section, consider labeling this as your “Project” section. You should list out the project in a similar format as you would for a job (name of the project, class it was for, how long it took you, and the details surrounding it).
And don’t just list out what was put on your rubric. Employers want to see what exactly you did during this time and what your outcome was. Maybe you volunteered to take on certain aspects of a group project, which help keep your deadlines on track. All of this is valuable skills and knowledge that any employer would consider.
Likewise, you don’t need to exclude any volunteer or other part-time experiences that you’ve had. Resumes are not just for full-time job experiences only!
Show-off On Your Cover Letter
Since your resume may be a little light, now is the time to explain all of your reasons why you are the best fit for the job in your cover letter. A strong cover letter, in lieu of a weaker resume, can literally be the difference between getting a call back for an interview or being tossed aside.
Take this time to really show off your passion for the position, life experiences that brought you to this point, and how those all would connect well with the company. You also want to explain how what you’ve learned thus far will translate into you being their best employee, if you are given the position. Employers are looking for recent graduates or career changes that are ready to work - so don’t be subtle!
Jumping into the job market when you don’t have a ton [or any] experience can be daunting and tough. The trick to mastering this area is to really dig deeper into why you are the person that you are, and how a company would benefit from all that you know!