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How Can I Build a Resume When I Have Nothing to Put On It?

There are a few things you can do with your resume to beef it up, no matter what you’ve done—or haven’t done. Let’s turn that quarter-page resume into something that can help you get a job!

Start with Lists, Not a Resume

Since you’re starting from scratch (or starting over) with your resume, let’s put the resume format aside for a moment. Start with just making lists of your skills, talents, accomplishments, and achievements. Don’t worry about shoehorning them into the resume format, you can do that later. First, think about all of your accomplishments, large and small. Depending on where you are in your career and the types of jobs you’re applying for, even small wins can help you stand out, so don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. If you’re looking for your first job or an internship, well-received papers or relevant projects you worked on academically should definitely go in your list. If you’re switching careers, think about any accomplishments in your previous jobs that reflect universal skills, like leading a project, juggling deadlines, or convincing people to work together. Even writing documentation is a big deal.

Don’t be shy with your list. You can always whittle it down later, and it’s better to have more items to choose from than fewer. Plus, having a big list of accomplishments and achievements will let you pick and choose which are most relevant to the job you want, and customize your resume for each. Then, before you move everything over to your resume, you can remove common phrases and overused cliches when it’s time to put it in the right format

Leverage All Of Your Experiences and Accomplishments

If the only experiences and accomplishments on your resume are professional ones, that’s fine, as long as it’s all you need for the job you want. However, don’t leave valuable accomplishments and experience off of your resume just because it wasn’t in a professional setting. If you have other relevant experience, or you’re worried about including academic, volunteer, or even personal work you’ve done, don’t be! It’s all valuable, and it could be the thing that sets you apart from other applicants, as long as its useful and not outdated.

Don’t Make It Longer than It Needs to Be

Finally, one trap to avoid when you’re starting with a short resume is to make it too long with fluff. You have your list of achievements, accomplishments, relevant experience, and volunteer work—leave it at that, and begin to work it all into the resume format. Don’t force it to a single page with a vague or unnecessary “objective” statement, or pad the bottom with a detailed list of the courses you took in college and what your GPA was. If that information is required, you’ll be asked for it.

It may seem backwards to suggest you keep brevity in mind when your primary worry is not having enough to fill a resume, but it’s important. Being concise and relevant is better than stretching to fill pages or include sections that don’t need to be there. There are many examples online, or at the Career Services office. Stick to the good stuff, make it look nice, and keep it brief. You’ll have a resume that stands above the other applicants for the job.

 

By: Alan Henry; Submitted by Tracy Dula, COCC Career Services Coordinator

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