How To Write an Entry-Level Resume

Your resume is your introduction to a potential employer. This document gives you an opportunity to show hiring managers the knowledge, skills, experience and other qualifications you have that make you a suitable candidate for a job. If you’re just starting in your field or are new to the workforce, writing a quality entry-level resume may help you get the job you want.

In this article, we explain what employers look for in an entry-level resume, list the steps for writing one, provide an example and a template you can use as a guide and share tips for writing an entry-level resume.

What do employers look for in an entry-level resume?

Employers often look for more than just work experience when evaluating candidates for an open position. If you’re pursuing an entry-level job in your field, consider these factors a hiring manager may want to see in your resume:

Your reason for applying

Hiring managers often consider whether the candidates applying for a job are interested in the specific role the employer wants to fill or if they want just any job. You can use your resume to show your reason for seeking the job by including the important qualifications you have that can help you succeed in the role. Employers typically determine a candidate’s interest by evaluating whether the credentials they list on their resume pertain to the role.

Your personality

While your professional and educational backgrounds are critical when you’re looking for a job, a hiring manager may want to ensure your personality also fits the position. If a hiring manager chooses you for the role, you become a part of the company’s community and culture. You can highlight positive personality traits on your resume in many sections by showing your commitment to your job and passion for the field. For example, you can include professional certifications that show you pursued additional training in a specific topic or skill.

Your teamwork and leadership experience

As an entry-level candidate, you haven’t yet had the opportunity to pursue management roles in your field. You can still show hiring managers you have leadership skills and potential by describing experiences you’ve had in other relevant jobs or as part of your education. For instance, if you served as the president of a club in college, this may have helped you gain leadership skills. Similarly, you can use these opportunities to demonstrate your ability to work efficiently on a team.

Tips for writing an entry-level resume

Consider these tips for organizing and including important information on your entry-level resume:

Choose the right format

Resumes can come in different formats, but the goal is to highlight your relevant qualifications and show the hiring manager why you’re a good fit for the job. If you’re an entry-level job-seeker, you may benefit from a functional resume that highlights your skills and education. This allows employers to evaluate you based on your strongest credentials as a candidate who’s new to your field.

Try to limit your resume to one page to keep it concise and ensure it includes the most important information. Choose a standard, legible font, such as Calibri or Arial, and set it to size 10 or 12. You can use pre-set headings in your word processor or start each new section with a bold font to keep your resume organized and easy to read.

Use keywords from the job description

Although you can use some of the same information on your resume for every job you apply for, it’s important to change certain elements each time you apply to fit the role. You can do this by reviewing the job description and determining which qualifications the employer expects. Then, compare them to your own knowledge, skills and experience, and find opportunities to include them in your resume. For example, if the employer wants a candidate who’s familiar with a certain software program you use, you can include it in your skills section.

Keywords are also important if you’re applying for a job at a company that uses an applicant tracking system (ATS). An ATS is a program that automatically scans each resume the company receives and looks for the mention of specific words or phrases. If it identifies them, it may pass the resume to the hiring manager for review. Including keywords from a job description may help you pass through the ATS scanning process.

Proofread your resume before applying

When you’re done with your resume, review it several times before submitting it. You can use a spelling and grammar checker, such as those integrated into word processors

or the ones you can add to your web browser. Check for misspellings, grammatical errors and formatting issues, and correct them as you notice them.

You might also consider asking a colleague or friend to review your resume for you. They can help you ensure you included all the essential details and that your resume is free of errors. Ensuring you proofread thoroughly and submit a quality resume shows employers your level of professionalism and attention to detail.

How to write an entry-level resume

Here are some steps you can take to write an effective entry-level resume:

1. Add a resume header

A resume header is a simple aspect of your resume, but it’s one of the most essential. This section is at the top of your resume and includes your contact information. Add your first and last name, a phone number where a hiring manager can reach you, your email address and the city and state where you live. Make sure you include a professional email address that identifies you, such as one that includes your first and last name or first initial and last name.

You can also include a link to your professional social media page or portfolio if you have one. This is especially important if you plan to enter a creative field, such as writing, art or graphic design. Employers often require candidates to have a portfolio that includes examples of their best work and the variety of projects they have experience completing. Adding a link to your online portfolio to your resume can guide the hiring manager to your work, which may encourage them to consider you for the job.

2. Include a professional summary

A professional summary is a two- to three-sentence description of the relevant credentials you have that may benefit you and the employer if you get the job. In this section, you can highlight your knowledge, education, skills and emphasize how the job can help you develop them. You might also mention a specific goal you may reach by working in this role.

You can start your professional summary by including a few adjectives to describe yourself or where you currently are in your career or schooling. Next, add a sentence that talks about your goals or career trajectory and what you can bring to the job. Consider the summary a professional mission statement that introduces you and encourages the hiring manager to read more about you. Writing a concise professional summary may help you keep the attention of a hiring manager as they review your resume.

3. Discuss your educational qualifications

Your potential employer may view relevant education as equivalent or supplemental to work experience in the field, particularly if the job requires a degree you’ve recently earned. Adding your educational credentials after your professional summary shows employers you’ve studied the field, have knowledge of relevant topics and understand the skills required to perform effectively in the role. It can also show them you’re prepared to apply your skills in a practical setting.

In this section, list your diplomas, certificates and degrees starting with the one you’ve earned most recently or that you’re currently working toward receiving. Add the type of credential you earned and your major or field of study and the name of the educational institution you attended. For each credential you’ve earned within the past three years, you can also include your graduation year to show employers your education is recent.

4. Share your certifications

Professional certifications are also helpful to mention because these designations typically focus on a specific job or a particular aspect of a job. Adding these to your resume highlights certain knowledge or skills you have in the field that can help you succeed in the job. For example, if you’re starting a career in architecture, a certification in computer-assisted design (CAD) software can help you emphasize on your resume that you have this important qualification.

Some employers or professions require candidates to have specific certifications to qualify. For example, a hospital may require an entry-level nurse to earn certification in life-saving or emergency response techniques before they can get the job. Other companies and industries may consider certifications optional. For these jobs, adding certifications to your resume can supplement your credentials. List your certifications on your resume by adding the name of each one, the agency that granted it and the year you received it or the year it expires.

5. List your skills

In this section, you can promote the skills you have to a potential employer. If you’re not sure where to start, consider reviewing some of your personal, professional or educational experiences that have helped you improve your transferrable skills. These activities can include employment, internships, roles in clubs or organizations and volunteer positions. A hobby may also be a valid way to use and develop your skills if it has something in common with the job you want.

Refer to the job posting as you list your skills to make sure you align them with the employer’s requirements and preferences. You can also include both soft and technical skills if possible. Soft skills are those that can help you succeed in any job or industry, like communication or problem-solving. Technical skills pertain to the specific role you want. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a copywriter, you may list technical skills like proficiency in content management systems (CMS) or using certain style guides.

6. Detail your relevant experience

Entry-level resumes often contain the work history or relevant experience section last. This is because, as someone who’s new to your field, you likely have no or limited experience in the job. The practical experience you have in other relevant roles can be helpful, as it may allow you to use and develop the skills required for the position you want. Add these experiences after the skills section on your resume to boost your credentials.

Just as you can list the skills you gained from non-employment experiences like internships and volunteer opportunities on your resume, you can also list these in your experience section. For example, if you’re pursuing a job as a financial analyst, you can include a finance internship you’ve completed. Start by listing your most recent experience and its duration, and add the organization and the location of the organization. You can then add a bulleted list of the primary duties you had that relate to the role you’re seeking.