Applying to jobs can be a particular hurdle for Murfreesboro high school students and college students. If you are in the market for a job but with little to no professional experience, you may feel you are at a disadvantage.

Pursuing career-mindful experiences is always a good idea and can greatly enhance your job prospects. At the same time, no matter how much experience you have, you still have to pitch and position yourself in a way that will catch the attention of your potential employer.

How, you may ask? The answer: Develop a brilliant resume. 

Learn more about Rutherford Works’ career prep and planning programs.

Do I Really Need a Resume?

Yes, you need a resume! Even with today’s online job applications and websites, you still need a resume.

In fact, a Harvard Business School survey found that 90% of recruiters actively searched for candidates who had online resumes or profiles matching their jobs’ descriptions before other applicants found the job posting.

Think of a resume as your first impression, or as a representative speaking to an employer on your behalf before you meet them. Like a business card (or even your Instagram bio), your resume is more than a piece of paper. It says: This is who I am, and this is what I can do.

You can post your resume on LinkedIn and other job sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, which makes it easy for recruiters to find you. And, of course, you can have a digital copy ready to email to recruiters. You can even go old-school and print out paper copies to give to potential employers!

What Makes a Good Resume?

But what makes a resume convincing, especially if you don’t have prior professional experience?

Don’t think in black-and-white terms! Relevant skills, accomplishments, and other life experiences can illustrate what you have to offer. And these do not have to be past jobs, per say.

In a Glassdoor article about applying for a job if you feel you are underqualified, the president and CEO of Great Resumes Fast encouraged applicants to submit their resumes if they felt they had 85% of the skills or knowledge to do the job – not whether or not they had experience.

Alright, so you’re feeling more confident. But getting back to the glowing, convincing resume … How do you create one? 

How to Create A Solid Resume

Rather than reinvent the wheel, take advantage of the wonderful world of technology! Search for a free or inexpensive resume template – in Microsoft Word, on Indeed, and even Etsy – that is cleanly formatted and shows a bit of your personality (don’t get crazy, though)!

Below, we outline the best information to include in your resume, along with a few recommendations that will quickly show an employer why they should consider hiring you. 

Use the Upper-Third to Your Advantage

As the top third of your resume, this is where recruiters and job posters will devote most of their time and attention. For this reason, your name, current city, contact information, social media accounts or personal website(if applicable), and summary of who you are (or profile) should be prominent.

We don’t want to skip over the summary; aside from your name, this section is so important! In 3 to 5 sentences, share what you can uniquely offer them and speak to needs they expressed in their job posting. Then, back that up with a quick example or two of things you’ve already accomplished that are relevant to the job. (Here is a great resource for writing a summary!)

Show Your Experience, Knowledge

In both the “Experience” and “Education” sections of your resume, do not simply list logistic information. Think bigger! Paint a picture of what you have done and what you know. 

  • Show-and-tell any part-time, freelance, or volunteer work. Do so briefly, succinctly, and with a punch!
  • Use detailed action words that explain what you did, like created, crafted, chaired, led, and organized.
  • Include your accolades, such as specific degree(s), awards you received (e.g. Dean’s List or GPA), roles you held, and extracurricular achievements.
  • Mention relevant coursework, classes, or projects that show your education and interest in this job or its industry.
  • Highlight your hard skills (e.g. fluency in another language, coding ability, software familiarity, etc.) and tangible successes (e.g. raising X amount of money for a charity through a social media campaign, organizing travel plans for a school trip) that show what you are capable of.

Keep Seeking-Out Growth Opportunities

For students in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Rutherford Works provides resources for you to not only learn about local jobs but also to continue growing your professional skills through hands-on learning opportunities!

Learn more about each program via the links below.

Work Ethic Distinction

High school seniors can show this distinction to participating employers across the state of Tennessee and automatically receive an interview as long as they meet relevant job requirements.

ACT WorkKeys Certificate

Assessment which measures and certifies the essential work skills needed for success in jobs across industries and occupations.

Work-based Learning 

Work-based learning (WBL) is a proactive approach to bridging the gap between high school and high-demand, high-skill careers in Tennessee. Students build on classroom-based instruction to develop employability skills that prepare them for success in postsecondary education and future careers. Through experiences like internships, apprenticeships, and paid work experience, juniors and seniors (16 years or older) may earn high school credit for capstone WBL experiences.

Youth Leadership Rutherford

A personal development program for high school seniors designed to educate and enhance leadership skills while promoting community awareness. Applications open in the spring of the junior year.