Whether you’re a high school student or recent college graduate, if you’ve never had to write a resume, the prospect can be daunting. But don’t let fear of the unknown get you down. Because with the right attitude, a little bit of writing skill, and a hint of design ability, you can create a resume that will help you get your foot in the door at the restaurant, law office, or school system of your dreams.

Wondering where to get started on writing a resume, despite having little real-world experience? Wonder no more!

1. Be truthful. I realize this probably goes without saying, but the first requirement of any resume is that it must be true. Yes, you want to put your best foot forward, but that best foot better be yours—not some imaginary person’s. I’ve met people who think they could get away with a lie on their resumes, and they may for a time. If you’re thinking of doing this, it’s not worth the risk.* Regardless of how long you get away with your little fib, the day may come when your new employer will expect you to be able to juggle flaming bowling balls while balancing on an exercise ball. Why? Because your resume said you could. So keep to the truth, and things will go smoothly from day one.

2. Keep focused. You may want to mention every bit of life experience you’ve ever had on your resume, but employers don’t want to hear about it. What they do want to know is the applicable experience you have. Providing excessive work experience is a particular danger for those with loads of work experience, but it rings true for those building their first resume as well. Looking to get a job in the food service industry? Mention that you volunteer with the local community kitchen. (Don’t volunteer with your local community kitchen? See previous point.) Hoping to land a career as a caretaker for the elderly? Write about the hours you spent caring for your aging grandparents.

3. Frame your experience. Since this is your first resume, you won’t have oodles of work experience that directly translates to your job of choice. However, there are likely aspects of your experience that correspond to future job responsibilities. If you babysit, you’re used to keeping children safe and communicating with their parents of anything that occurred during the night that was out of the ordinary. These skills are essential in customer service! You may even be used to cleaning house after the kids are asleep. This shows initiative and a self-starting personality. Look at every aspect of your past experiences for resume potential, and use them to your advantage.

4. Provide educational details. High school students may be nervous to put their educational background, as it is fairly limited. Don’t sweat it! Since you’re applying somewhere with a reputation for hiring high school students, the hiring manager will expect to see resumes that mention ongoing schooling. It may seem silly, but if you’re still in high school, list your middle school and when you graduated from middle school. Then list your anticipated high school graduation date. This will show you are on track to complete high school in the traditional four-year window, which is a good sign for potential employers.

5. Shoot for one page. No matter what you put on your first resume, there’s no reason for it to be longer than a single page. Actually, unless you’re going for an executive position with a national organization, keeping your resume at one page is a great idea, even if you’ve got 20 years of experience. Why keep it so short? Employers are flooded with resumes every day, and they don’t have time to sort through six pages of information to find what they want. Do them a favor and increase your likelihood of landing an interview by keeping your resume short and sweet.

Want some help creating a resume that will open the door to your next job? Give me a call at (423) 380-9144 or drop me an email to get started.

*Another reason to not lie on your resume is that lying is not good in and of itself. Since I suspected you already knew this, I didn’t mention it in the main article.