Improving Your Resume When You Have Little Experience

Julie Shenkman
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If you're an upcoming college graduate or just now entering the workforce, you can still land a great job even when you have little experience. The key is to strengthen your resume by undertaking some professional experiences. These experiences take weeks instead of years, and they put you on the path to full-time employment.

1. Seek Out a Temp Agency

Temp agencies put you in touch with employers who need workers on a short-term basis. However, if you work hard and prove you're an asset to the employer, that part-time work could turn into a full-time job. Ideally, you stay with the same company that hired you for temporary work. If not, you can always ask your supervisor and your temp agency contact for a good reference. Make sure to list this experience on your resume for when a future employer conducts a background check.

2. Complete an Internship

An internship is a great way to gain valuable, on-the-job experience in your chosen industry, which is why you definitely should include one on your resume. It also offers a way to expand your network by putting you in touch with professionals who can vouch for work ethic. Companies use internships specifically to identify potential candidates for future employment, so a successful internship can quickly lead to a full-time opportunity.

Some internships offer special weeks-long experiences, such as trips at sea or building homes in impoverished countries. These types of internships help develop your teamwork, problem-solving and leadership skills.

3. Compete in Contests

Companies, organizations and industries often hold contests or competitions as way to pick out aspiring employees looking for a long-term career. Entrepreneurial contests may award first, second and third place trophies for people who have great product or service ideas. The prize money may go to help the winners complete their projects and bring them to market. You may have to compete on a team to win a prize. These contests could last for weeks.

Tech companies may hold hackathons to find top talent in the coding field. Hackathons involve intense, hours-long sessions where people compete to see who can hack into certain software the fastest and most effectively. You might also design an app or piece of software.

Contests not only hone your skills — they also add experience to your background even as a non-winning participant. Winning a contest can go under the Experience section or Achievements and Awards section in your resume.

4. Volunteer

Donating your time to a worthy cause is a quick way to beef up your resume. Not only can your volunteer supervisor vouch for your abilities, but you can gain experience in a wide range of skills, as well. You can perform office work, build or repair homes, take care of animals, or tutor kids who need extra assistance in school. The possibilities are endless in terms of organizations that need help, and you get to expand your network in the process with everyone you meet.

Any or all of these valuable experiences help you stand apart from other candidates applying for the same position. Make sure to list them on your resume in appropriate places, especially if you have little experience in your young career.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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