No Work Experience? No Problem! Transferable Skills on a Graduate Resume
College students and new graduates often feel they have nothing to include on a resume when conducting job search and for using with job applications. College students’ work experience is often seemingly unrelated to their job targets, and aside from that, the only information left to include is education. However, while this may seem like the case, it simply isn’t so!
One method of approaching a college student or new graduate resume is to focus on transferable skills. These skills are applicable to different situations. The ability to communicate well, for example, is a skill that is useful in any industry or position. Other transferable skills may include the ability to work well with numbers, sales skills, or an ability to solve problems by looking at the big picture. These are only a few examples.
How do you list transferable skills? There are a number of ways to include transferable skills in your resume, job application, and cover letter. The following are some tips for various sections of the resume.
The Summary or Profile
Objective statements are out. Profiles are in. Open with a brief introductory paragraph describing your most “sellable” points. Briefly list transferable skills here, or present them in a keyword summary list. This is exactly as it sounds: a list of keywords. Use those that show your transferable skills.
Depending on your college major, you likely had to write papers, complete projects, or both. What were the outcomes of these? Did you conduct comprehensive research on a subject? Design an engineering plan? Were these published or put into use in the “real world”? Use as much of your educational experience to your advantage. You can also include a summary of coursework, which often demonstrates transferable skills that are used in the educational setting and in the world of business.
Many college students have a work history unrelated to their targeted field. If this is true for you, take heart. You can include many transferable skills on your college or new graduate resume. At the most basic, you likely gained professional skills such as dependability, working with others, collaborating on projects, communicating with clients or customers, and much more. Your work history may not be as unrelated as it first seems.
Any volunteer work or memberships may lead to transferable skills. Just as your employment history helps you learn transferable skills, so too does volunteer work. It also demonstrates a commitment to helping others. If you’ve fulfilled any roles in a professional organization, this too can show transferable (and sometimes directly related) skills.
When you take the time to thoroughly review your experience, education, and other related activities, you will discover a number of transferable skills. Use these to your advantage! Your resume, college application, job application, or cover letter will be much stronger for it.