Why work experience doesn’t matter as much as you think on a resume.
Updated: Feb 15
Daunting. That’s how I would describe the feeling of being freshly graduated from university. And how could I not be when I was conditioned to think that becoming a real life engineer was akin to joining the illuminati, figuratively speaking, except the illumati were a more welcoming bunch. It took weeks before I finally mustered up the courage to apply for a job. The delay in applying was mostly from fear that my resume wasn’t good enough. That it wouldn’t live up to the standards of the exclusive bunch I’m applying to be a part of. Drafting my resume quickly became a complicated process, a process that involved much more research with frankly not enough return on investment. If only I had a list, I thought, a list of to-dos and not-to-dos. Something that can get me started and correct me if I’m straying from the right path. Well you’re in luck, because I’ve done just that for you J. The key take-away message from this list, or whichever list you end up finding on the internet, is that you should take it easy.. More often than not its not your credentials that appeal to recruiters, its how you present yourself. Here goes it:
1. Include a summary statement - sums you up proeffssionally in a sentence or two, gives the reader a first impression and an idea of what’s to come.
2. Decide on a resume format: Is it going to be chronological or functional, or both? Chronological resumes are those where you list your work experience starting with the most recent. A functional resume focuses on highlighting your skills and achievements rather than work experience. If you’re lacking in work experience, go for the latter.
3. Pay attention to detail: Proof read your own work or get an expert to do it for you. Things to look out for are grammar, spelling or language errors which could unintentionally make your resume look unprofessional.
4. List your achievements: Start by brainstorming anything you can think of that counts as an achievement. From there, narrow it down with a 2 to 3 (total resume) page limit in mind.
5. Highlight your skills: If your lacking work experience, your educational background and skills could still highlight you as a great candidate. For skills, think of what would be useful for the hiring company (e.g. problem solving skills for engineers).
6. Next, list your extracurricular activities or volunteer work: You’d be surprised to know that, based on employer surveys, volunteer work experience is as highly regarded as paid work experience
7. The not-to-dos: Don’t bother including written examples of your work, references or photos of yourself unless asked to provide them. Also, make sure your email presents professionally and that you don’t phase out any buzzwords," such as "go-getter," "team player," and “detail-oriented”.
8. Use keywords: Chances are, your prospective employer is using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan and sort resumes based on the keywords they’re looking for. The best place to find these keywords is in the job ad itself.
9. Finally, add a cover letter and customize your resume for each job you apply to.
Go get’em Tiger. One more thing – if you’ve got time head down to one of the many free networking events around Melbourne. If you’re having trouble finding your discipline, check out some of the many networking events offered on our website (https://www.freeee.com.au/career).