If you’re just starting out in your chosen profession and you’re faced with having little professional experience to offer an employer, there are ways to maximize what you do have.
1. Focus on Academics in the Chosen Field or Relevant Training:
Rather than placing education or training last, as is the case in most resumes, move that section directly beneath the Opening Summary (and before Professional Experience). Within that section, (whether you’re a recent graduate or a seasoned professional transitioning to a new career), list all coursework that is relevant to your new profession. For example, an aspiring Accountant would list tax courses, finance, bookkeeping, and computer proficiency in Quicken, Excel, and Peachtree software. If you’ve excelled academically in your chosen field, and have been granted a scholarship or won a school award, this should also be mentioned.
2. Choose a Resume Format that will Emphasize Your Skills, Rather than your Lack of Experience:
Although most employers do prefer a reverse-chronological format (that is, your most recent experience detailed first, followed by your next most recent, etc.), there are times when a functional format is best. Functional formats showcase professional skills learned in school (or on the job). These formats can also stress pure academic experience – in the case of an entry-level Accountant that would mean listing coursework taken or specialized training under the subheading of Accounting Skills.
3. Build your Skills List for the New Career by Studying Job Postings from Online Sources (HotJobs, Dice, etc.):
Match up any qualifications the hiring manager wants that you also have learned academically. Then use those matches as proof that you have what it takes to get the job done.