How to Write a Resume for Your First Job

The Prepped Team

May 5, 2022

6 minutes

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While many people look back fondly on their first jobs, it’s much rarer to find someone who feels nostalgic about writing their first resume. That’s because writing resumes can be a bit tricky. No matter where you are in your career, it takes some know-how to understand what to include in your resume and how to lay it out. Writing a resume for your first job, without prior employment, can feel even more confusing. Where do you even start? And how do you create a resume with no experience? 

We’re here to answer all of your first-time resume questions and get you prepped to land your first job. 

How to start writing your first resume 

You’re probably wondering where you should start, right? That’s a fair question and we’ll take you through each step so, by the time you’re done, you’ll feel confident sending out your resume to potential employers. 

Research keywords

An important part of making your resume stand out is understanding the terminology used in your industry. This means that, before starting your resume, you’ll need to know what job you're applying for. All resumes should be specifically tailored to each potential employer, so start by reviewing job postings for the types of positions you’re interested in. Pay attention to the skills listed in those postings and other attributes that employers consistently ask for. Write those keywords down and apply them to your resume, but only if they match your skill set. 

Resume Tip: You can utilize our ATS resume scanner to get real-time feedback on keywords to include in your resume for each job listing.

Create a functional resume 

There are different types of resumes you can choose from. A chronological resume lists your experience and education starting from the most recent. This is an effective resume choice if you have years of experience in your industry. Since this is your first resume, a functional resume is probably the better choice. With a functional resume, you feature your skills and achievements at the top and include any experience at the bottom. This layout allows you to highlight your strengths, talents, and any projects you’ve accomplished outside of a traditional work environment. 

Summarize your skills and objective

At the very beginning of your resume, you should include what’s called a resume objective. A resume objective briefly describes your most relevant skills and summarizes why you are the right person to hire for the position. Here’s an example of a resume objective: 

“I am a first year marketing student who has used my skills to build a following of 10,000 followers across my three social media platforms. I study the industry and keep up to date with all of the marketing trends. I know I can use the knowledge I’ve learned to help your company better connect with its audience.” 

List your education and relevant certifications 

Even if you’re in your last year of high school and haven’t started university yet, it’s still important to list your education. If you know what college or university you’ll be attending, then also include that information. Also include any courses or certifications you may have taken outside of school that you think would be relevant. Maybe you completed a leadership course or a graphic design course? If you have, add those in. 

Include all relevant experience 

We know, this is probably your first job––or at least your first job where you need to show a resume. That said, you’ve done other things that can still be counted as experience. If you completed a job placement at your high school, college, or university, that counts. If you volunteered anywhere, that also counts. An internship is another example of experience that you can include in your resume. Don’t let your lack of work experience discourage you. Your accomplishments do matter. 

First job resume tips 

We’ve now walked you through the major sections your resume should include. If you follow what we’ve outlined, your resume will be in pretty good shape. That said, there are a few more tips you need to be aware of to really make your resume stand out.

  • Use standard fonts and margins. Keep it simple and don’t try any fancy fonts that might be difficult to read. 
  • Use a resume template We have resume templates at Prepped that will help you create a beautiful and effective functional resume (along with other template options). 
  • Mention your hard and soft skills. Your hard skills are what you’re capable of producing. Copywriting, graphic design, coding––those are all hard skills. But your soft skills are just as important. Do you work well independently? Can you work in groups? Have you led teams? All of these soft skills are worth mentioning. 

Prepped will help you land your first job

In any job market, you’ll face some competition. That’s why you want to do everything you can to stand out, and that begins with your resume. The goal of your resume is to impress an employer enough to get invited to an interview. When you sign up for Prepped, we provide resume and cover letter templates and other important career resources to help lift your resume to the top of the pile. 

Sign up now and get full access to all Prepped’s tools, features and resources.   

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.