Three Areas to Highlight in your Resume If you Lack Work Experience

February 20, 2019 The Washington Center

Three Areas to Highlight in Your Resume If You Lack Work Experience

What makes your resume stand out when the section most scrutinized during evaluation - experience - is the one where you find yourself lacking?

    It is a common hurdle students must overcome. The secret is showing the resume reader you are a well-rounded candidate, that you use your time in such a way as to develop skills and competencies that are enticing and marketable on the job market.

    There are aspects you can emphasize to prove you have what it takes to potential employers. Paramount among these are leadership, responsibilities, and awards and honors. Though you won’t be there in person when your resume is reviewed, investing in these three areas will proclaim your value and your potential.

    1. Leadership

    You should consider, if not move now to secure, leadership opportunities wherever possible - in the classroom, at your part-time job, in clubs, sports, or organizations. Leadership yells you are a force to be harnessed. It is also an obvious indicator you are both trustworthy and disciplined. Employers will be eager to know more about how the role was obtained, how it was executed and how it will be applied in the future.

    Common areas for college students to demonstrate leadership:

    • Participate in student government
    • Founding a club or group
    • Office or chair of a club, group, fraternity/sorority
    • Captain of a sports team
    • Tutoring or teaching assistant
    • Volunteer or fundraising positions
    • Political campaign or organizing
    • Class project

    The secret is showing the resume reader you are a well-rounded candidate, that you use your time in such a way as to develop skills and competencies that are enticing and marketable on the job market.

    2. Responsibilities

    Another opportunity to position yourself is through clearly stated responsibilities at any spot you spend time. It doesn’t have to be running the place, but should state (and include numbers wherever possible) what you are relied upon to make happen in a timely, efficient and satisfactory manner.

    Common areas for college students to show responsibilities:

    • Research assistant for a professor
      Example: Assisted Professor X in drafting of annual $2,500 grant proposal and assembling of final presentation for six-member department panel.

    • Volunteering in your community
      Example: Delivered 12 warm meal kits to community seniors two days per week during the semester.

    • Club membership
      Example: Co-chaired philanthropy committee’s annual 5K Fun Run for Charity, acquiring sponsors and personal donations to break 2018’s $10,000 goal.

    • Retail associate
      Example: Monitored sales floor and assisted customers with item selection and checkout.
    • Server
      Example: Facilitated diners in a section of four-six tables by timely addressing various needs during the course of the meal.

    • Babysitting
      Example: Supervised two infant children on Thursdays and Saturdays over course of the semester, keeping schedules and overseeing child welfare.

    • Private tutoring
      Example: Aided underclassmen students comprehend and apply advanced mathematics classwork on alternating weekends.
    • Campaign volunteer
      Example: Participated in Get Out The Vote weekend drive by visiting 42 homes over last weekend of October.

    Campaign volunteer

    3. Awards and Honors

    These aren’t just given away, they are earned. Demonstrating achievement is always a pleaser. Similar to leadership, receiving an award or honor involves character and discipline. Being recognized for continuous, long-term effort sounds a lot like work. That’s because it is. And hard work at that. Employers and hiring managers recognize the effort that goes into this, and the necessary third party validation demanded to be awarded.

    Common areas for college students to be recognized:

    • Dean’s List
    • President’s List
    • Competitive scholarships
    • Academic major award
    • Honorary college, fraternity, society
    • Civic awards
    • Weekly/monthly/quarterly student or employee award

    Filling out these areas will offset shortcomings elsewhere. By no means are these the only places a student could use to compensate for missing experience, there is no cure-all to the predicament most students find themselves when applying for that first internship or job. We are all too individualistic to fit nicely into tidy little buckets that apply to everyone, and what works for some may not work for others.

    The important takeaway is to present yourself as a well-rounded, appealing candidate in the areas other than professional experience that make up a resume. Elevating other areas of strength will pique interest and ensure you’ll be considered when it comes time to schedule interviews.

    About the Author

    The Washington Center

    The Washington Center is the largest and most established student internship program in Washington, D.C. Since our founding, we've helped more than 60,000 young people translate their college majors into career paths. We use our scale and expertise to customize each student’s experience to be truly transformative.

    Follow on Twitter Visit Website More Content by The Washington Center
    Previous Resource
    Sample Issues Essays
    Sample Issues Essays

    The Issues Essay is part of your TWC application and asks you to reflect on a key issue related to your pro...

    Next Article
    What are My TWC Application Documents For?
    What are My TWC Application Documents For?

    When you apply to The Washington Center, we ask you to submit a few documents along with your application. ...

    Got questions? Our admissions counselors are here to help!

    Email Us