We’ve heard it, we’ve experienced it. The black hole of finishing school and not having any work experience on your resume. Even more annoying, getting turned down for a job as a new graduate, with the cliche reason of ‘lack of experience’.

It was one of those things that bothered me as a student. From my personal experience, I have learned some tips on filling up a resume, without necessarily having a paid job. I have also done some research to make sure I share practical and effective information with you. These tips I’m about to share will help you have an edge when you apply and not look completely naked without any skills or experience. So, here are 10 ways to fill up your entry-level resume.

1. Volunteer

Volunteer opportunities are goldmines for experiences. There are a lot of places you could volunteer and get skills and experiences for your resume that will make you look great to an employer. When possible, volunteer in organizations that are tailored to your course or career choice. But if that’s not possible, you can volunteer anywhere without it being an absolute waste. There are ways to word and tailor every experience you gain to fit any job description. There are also general working skills that you build regardless of where you work. So, take advantage of opportunities to volunteer. Even just a few hours a month of activities in a year, will do your CV or resume a lot of good.

2. Join and Be Active in an Organization 

Educational institutions usually have an array of organizations, clubs, and groups that serve the students, community or both. These organizations often have projects that require the participation of people that belong to them. Additionally, these organizations require people to serve as leaders in various positions. Leadership and team working skills are hot in job applications. You could get those experiences by serving in organizations on campus. Don’t be an island and marry your academics alone. Succeeding in the job market will need more than a high GPA. Joining a good organization and serving or participating, will help you acquire skills and experiences that can be added to your resume. 

3. Internships (Paid or Unpaid)

Internships are usually more specific in the skills and experiences you gain. They could be offered by certain institutions or you could pitch your idea for an internship to an organization of interest. Sometimes internships are paid, and it gives an added incentive for you as a student. However, I encourage you to look beyond that for the sake of your resume. If you find an internship that will give you an opportunity to build skills and give experiences that will help you, don’t hesitate to go for it regardless of the money attached or not attached to it. You can begin your search for internships at internships.com

4. Learn Skills

I have a friend that learned how to code during a summer break and it was not part of her course curriculum. But guess what, she landed a juicy job after graduation mainly because of her ability to code. Learning skills within or outside your course of interest is always an asset. Of course, where possible, you want to take skills relevant to your career of interest. However, nothing is ever a waste when it comes to self-development. There are so many platforms that offer online courses for skills. If you want to go the cheap or free route, YouTube videos are excellent. It could be something as simple as learning how to use a software. Learn as many skills as you can. When you are applying for jobs, you never know what will seal your fate as a candidate. It is in your best interest to be as diverse and skilled as possible.

5. Specialize in Your Course of Study

My brother who is a mechanical engineer specialized in robotics during his undergraduate study, and it increased his options when he was applying for jobs. I have also heard of other cases where specializing in an area of concentration made applying for jobs easier. You may have similar options, and it’s worth exploring. Even taking a minor course of study in addition to a major course can have the same effect on your credentials and resume.

6. Get Certified

This is similar to what was described in #6 but may require you to take a course outside your school or sit for a board exam. Most fields have areas of certifications that add value to a general course of study. For example, as a nurse, I can get certified as a public health nurse, nurse educator, pediatric nurse, emergency room nurse, etc. The entry requirements for these certifications can vary and you may not necessarily qualify as a student. However, it doesn’t hurt to see what your options are and explore areas of certification, even in a field related to your course. Remember, every added training can work in your interest.

7. Start an Online Platform

Speaking of blogs and social media, I can tell you from experience that knowing how to create online content is a priceless asset. Of course,, its value varies, depending on the job type; however, online influence is like currency in this day and age. You want to have some of that in your pocket. During my last job hunt, I included my publications in magazines, and blogs and some of my interviewers found my diverse ability to communicate in and out of the science community, interesting. When I started blogging, I would never have guessed that it could show up on my CV as a PhD graduate. Online platforms could be anything, ranging from social media pages, blogs, YouTube videos, etc. As long as it is geared towards a specific positive goal, it can go on your resume. Also, you really want to be socially responsible; negative online content will negatively affect you.

8. Grade Point Average (GPA)

Consider your GPA as your evidence of going to school. Your GPA on your resume has a voice of its own. It’s not necessarily a job skill or experience, but it speaks of your knowledge, work attitude, and even future competencies. I know GPA’s can be misleading and sometimes you may not be able to help some of your low grades. However, you have to work to make sure your GPA smiles on your behalf. Also, if your GPA is not flattering, don’t include it on your resume.

9. Paid Job

This almost seems like a no-brainer when it comes to acquiring skills and experiences. When achievable, find jobs in institutions or places that can develop skills tailored to your career choice. However, if that’s not possible, don’t shy away from any job opportunities within your reach. There are general skills like team working, leadership, customer service, etc. that you can gain from almost any job.

10. Create a Product

A product can be anything from a physical tangible product to a published paper, or video or app or really anything that you can create. Products are hot on resumes. It speaks volumes of your ability, initiative, drive, passion, etc. People have become sought after and even millionaires because of products they created in their rooms or basement or toilet or wherever. Think about it, you take all these information-packed classes for four or more years and you wait till you graduate before putting them to use, why??? Put your knowledge to use and create a product! This can be time-consuming and will most likely require collaboration, but if you can do this, the world is your runway.

Finally and most importantly, make sure you put everything you do in your CV OR RESUME, or else it never happened. There you have it people!

Share your thoughts and more tips, in the comments section below.

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