Resume Star Tips

Tips for Fresh Grads

New graduates in particular are usually concerned about their lack of “real world” experience. What happens if you don't have enough material to full a Work Experience section for example?

Don't panic.

Remember, there's nothing to feel ashamed of. You are likely applying for an entry-level position, and both you and the hiring manager know it. No one expects you to have 10 years of experience, doing the same job.

So, feel proud that you are a newly minted graduate with energy and passion to make a difference in the world.

Instead of calling it “Work Experience”, you can rename the section “Relevant Experience”. You can use this space to list summer jobs, school projects, personal projects, and other relevant experience.

The key things to convey are: Passion, potential, and work ethic.


This goes for everyone, whether you are entry-level or have 60 years of experience: You better darn well be interested in the job you are applying for, and the hiring manager better know it.

If you don’t really care about this position, or “just want a job", you might be better off saving everyone's time.

Now, this doesn't mean you should try to show some fake level of passion for something mundane. Although in honesty, I would prefer to hire someone with that than someone with no passion whatsoever.

If you lack direct experience in a job, you can compensate somewhat by making it clear that you are very interested in it, and are willing to take the time and energy to learn it and do it well.

The world is changing more rapidly than ever. Companies need people who can pick up new things on their own. This requires passion. No one is going to learn something on their own if they aren't passionate about it.

Passion can be an edge, and a more important one that most people realize.


If you are a fresh grad, the main thing going for you is potential.

Here's something to keep in mind: You probably have valuable new skills that you’re taking for granted.

For example, you probably spend 4-5 hours a day on Facebook and Twitter, keeping in touch with dozens of people a day. Did you know that big companies employ full-time social media community managers to do this for them?

I'm not suggesting you necessarily apply for those jobs. Even if you are looking for a seemingly unrelated position, these skills can be very valuable.

E.g., the company you are applying for might have an employee initiative to handle Q&A and troubleshoot issues with their internal social media platform (yeah, that's a thing). By highlighting your online communication skills, you might be a able to help drive that initiative as part of your job.

Work Ethic

This might be obvious, but pretty much all companies are looking to hire people who are self-disciplined, committed to doing a good job, and dependable.

Look for examples where you've demonstrated these qualities in the past.

E.g., you may have been the leader of your high school band. It took a lot of work to make sure everyone showed up on time, with the proper instruments. That's management experience right there.

List difficult and long projects you stuck with to the end.

Think about when you showed dedication to a cause or regimen. E.g., call out how you cared about being on time every day for your 6am cross country run.

Describe situations where you worked with a team of people to accomplish something valuable, such as a fundraiser or to plan an event.

Don't Sell Yourself Short

Even if you are young, you've been alive in this world for many years, and you have certainly done interesting and unique things. The trick is to pick the things that are most relevant for the job you are applying for.

An additional tip: Ask a family member or close friend to list the key skills they see you possessing. It might surprise you to hear some of them.

Go forth and conquer!

Back to How to Score an Interview.