How to Make a Resume for College Students with No Experience

Brandi Glass
4 min read
Young Man Working on a Computer

Writing a resume when you’re still in college and don’t yet have any professional experience can be intimidating. It’s hard to know what to fill that blank page with, and you can start to feel insecure.

However, you don’t need to worry. Even if you’ve never held a job, there are still plenty of things you can highlight on your resume. With a careful choice of structure and a bit of mind-mapping, you can craft a stellar resume that will impress recruiters.

Keep reading as we break down how to make a resume for college students with no experience.

Pick the Right Resume Structure

There are three main types of resumes: traditional, functional and hybrid. Traditional resumes detail your career history in chronological order — and as a student with no experience, this is rarely the right choice for you.

Functional resumes, meanwhile, focus on skill sets. They allow you to emphasize what you’re capable of rather than how many years of experience you have, but the downside is that recruiters can be left with several questions. Only opt for this if you have never had a job, internship, volunteer role or any other position of responsibility.

Hybrid resumes, meanwhile, are a great choice for college students with limited work experience. They lead with your skill sets but also briefly detail your education and any roles you may have held.

When writing a hybrid resume, simply place your skill sets beneath the executive summary so they’re the first thing a recruiter reviews. Under that, you can add your education and work history.

Focus on Your Skills

You might not have a long list of relevant work experience, but that doesn’t mean you lack valuable skills. Think carefully about the skills required for the positions you’re applying for and when you’ve had to use them before. You might be surprised by how many examples you can think of.

Try to include five to eight skills in the skills section of your resume. Beneath or next to each one, add evidence. For example:

*Strong oral communication skills

  • Member of college debate team
  • Tutored students in math, helping them raise their grades from a C to an A*

Emphasize Your Education

As a college student, your education is one of your strongest assets. Move it up on your resume so that it sits above your work experience, and if you have a GPA of 3.5 or above, add that too. Don’t forget that you can include your major GPA instead if it’s higher.

Your education isn’t just about getting a certificate for your resume, however. During your years at college, you have likely participated in numerous projects, activities and student organizations. Many of these will have transferable skills for the world of work.

For example, perhaps you helped organize a fundraising event, wrote for the student newspaper or simply led a group presentation that scored a particularly high grade.

You can include your associations and extracurricular activities in the education section, while accomplishments can also be mentioned in the skills section.

Draw on Volunteer and Intern Experience

Have you ever helped out with a trash pickup event, raised money for charity or interned? All of these can make a positive impression on recruiters, especially if you present them well. For example, if you ran a marathon to raise money, this shows dedication, goal setting, fundraising skills and strength of character.

Of course, the more recent the experience, the better. Recruiters want to know who you are now, so there’s no point including that you baked cupcakes for a school raffle in sixth grade. However, you can still include activities from high school. Just remember that the further back the experience was, the more impressive it has to be to justify mentioning it on your resume.

Mention Part-Time Jobs

Do you truly have zero experience, or do you just have zero experience relevant to the field you want to go into?

Any work experience is positive, so go ahead and include part-time roles from high school and college. At the very least, they will show that you managed to keep a job and have experience of being managed and/or working in a team. Recruiters will infer that you are reasonably punctual, professional and responsible.

That said, if you take the time to mind-map your roles and responsibilities, you’ll probably discover this part-time work is more impressive than you first realized. Jobs like babysitting are often overlooked, but they have many transferable skills.

Don’t dismiss the value of your part-time work experience. It might be just what you need to stand out from other applicants.

Include a Portfolio

You might not have relevant professional experience, but that doesn’t mean you’ve never produced good work. In many fields, a well-presented portfolio might be more valuable than a long list of previous jobs.

Programming, design, social media management, fashion, marketing, photography: whatever your target industry is, take the time to build a strong online portfolio. Make sure your best work is the first thing viewers see when they open it. Ask tutors and mentors for feedback on it, and include similar samples to what you hope to do when on the job.

You can include a link to your portfolio under your contact details, as well as in your cover letter.

Resume Templates Designed for Students with No Experience

Your resume should underscore your strengths while also being customized to the role in question, whether that’s an internship, summer job or an entry-level position at your dream company. Even if you don’t yet have any professional experience, there are still plenty of things you can highlight on your resume.

What’s more, with the right resume template, you’ll find crafting a strong resume is surprisingly easy. Here at Rocket Resume, we have dozens of resume templates perfect for college students with no experience. Each one is customizable, professionally presented and machine-readable.

Plus, our resume builder will walk you through selecting the ideal structure and headings based on your experiences and education. It will even suggest recruiter-approved phrasing to help you underscore the value of volunteer experience and part-time work.

Applying for your first job as a college student or recent graduate is often a nerve-racking experience. However, with a good resume, you’ll be well-positioned to apply for jobs, impress recruiters and discuss your skills and background with confidence.

It will only take you 10 minutes to do, so build your resume now.