Resume Example For Entry Level Positions

Putting together a resume and cover letter that will get you in the door is tougher with limited experience. Here's a plan to make the best use of whatever background you have when applying to entry level jobs.

Whether you're a recent grad or changing careers, you're in the entry level category if you have less than two years of experience - and the job is entry level if that's what it requires.

Different industries have different requirements and certainly different expectations, but your goal as an applicant is to get an interview by proving you can perform for the employer. The employer's goal is to hire someone who'll get the job done and who represents the least possible risk.

An employer will tell you they're looking for the best possible applicant, and they are, but there's no way to determine if someone will double the firm's profits or market share, or be the salesperson of the year. So what an applicant should prove is that he or she has the training, experience, and motivation to do the job and require as little additional effort as possible on the part of the employer. You need to give them some concrete objective data for them to go on.

Remember that in many cases the manager's own job is on the line if a new hire screws up. And that manager will have to have a response when he or she is asked "Why'd you hire this guy?" if the hire makes a major goof.

Nowadays companies only hire grudgingly, when they have to, and they're not overly interested in your personal development or happiness. Training programs are offered because that's the only way they can get people in the right quantity at the right price.

The challenge you have as an entry level applicant is to prove you can do the job while having little actual experience. That's what the job should require but it means you have to be creative.


Most resumes will be submitted via email. They should be prepared in the Microsoft Word .doc format, in ASCII for those sites that require it, and you'll need a paper copy, if only to carry with you to the interview. Use 100% rag bond paper and print it up neatly, with no errors. Use a simple font and two or three type sizes, with no fancy stuff and no underlining, use bold instead. The font should be Times Roman or Ariel or some other that comes with all word processors, otherwise it won't be displayed correctly on someone else's computer. In my opinion resumes should be no more than one page.

At the top of the resume should be your name, address and contact information, including the email address. You can lay it out any way that looks good and there are a lot of examples in books and on the net - try to use one written in the last few years.

You don't need to title it "Resume" - they'll figure that out.

Below that you can put in an Objective. Most people use a bunch of flowery garbage about how they're looking to develop potentials at a progressive organization that will provide more responsibility, and so on. This is useless.

The Objective is only helpful to tell the reader you're looking for the exact job they have and why you're perfect for it - but it must be specific.


1. "Entry level accounting position leading to a career as a tax accountant for a medium size consumer service firm".

2. "Television production assistant position coordinating sales, production, and traffic department functions, leading to a production coordinator's position".

That second one only works if the job is specified as having a promotion track, otherwise it will look as if you won't be happy if you don't get the promotion next month. So unless you can do this, skip the Objective, or just put in the title of the job you're shooting for, like "Assistant School Secretary".

Next you might consider a Summary. Again people tend to fill this with meaningless fluff, like "good communications and analytical skill". No one cares. This part of the resume is useful to highlight the parts of your background that are relevant, and if possible, outstanding. In an entry level resume there may not be enough to go on so you'll wind up repeating yourself later, which is ineffective.

This section can make your resume more useful if you can put some standout achievements in it, like this:

"B.A. in computer science from Dartmouth (2003)

Awarded patent for database engine design in Oracle

Hardware game controller modification adopted by Nintendo when I was age 15"

You can also put in any relevant license or certifications here. Otherwise skip the Summary.

The most important part of the resume is next - Experience. It's where you put the jobs or things like internships, volunteer work and so on.

Anything you did can and should be phrased to demonstrate that you can accomplish things and you can think. Here's an example that won't get you any points:

"Squirrel Rehab Society, 3243 Tongman Street, Chicago, Illinois 6/2/2003 until 7/1/2004. As an unpaid volunteer I answered the phone and did some paperwork. In the last few months I processed a few squirrels."

People read resumes looking for proof you can do the job to which you're applying. A presentation like the one above doesn't tell them anything about your abilities. And they surely won't know what "processed a few squirrels" involves. Try it this way:

"Squirrel Rehab Society, Chicago, IL 6/03-7/04 Worked about 20 hours a week initially answering questions from the public and media about the organization's purpose and functions at this volunteer assignment. As a lifelong squirrel enthusiast, I developed a set of questions that evolved into a protocol for our scientists to more quickly respond to public questions. I arranged for dozens of changes to our web page to reduce confusion. I arranged for safety, fire, and biohazard inspections and documented the findings and the corrective steps taken. Upgraded our four networked Windows XP computers to Microsoft Word 2003. For the last three months I was promoted to train in squirrel processing, using a stereo microscope and microsurgery laser to restore to full functionality over a dozen squirrels successfully."

Same job, and we didn't make things up, but thought carefully about how to describe the job in terms that the reader can make use of. At the interview, you'll be asked about some of this, which will give you a chance to elaborate further. You can make the description as long as needed. Naturally the more jobs you have the less you need say about each one and the more you can focus on relevant tasks.

Note the following changes:

1. We eliminated the street address and the exact dates for brevity.

2. It's volunteer, and we said so, but didn't emphasize that.

3. Shows that progress was made from the initial tasks, indicating the employer liked the person.

4. The "enthusiast" part is there to show it wasn't just something to fill a school requirement but a passion.

5. Using words like "developed", "created", "organized" is important when coupled with objective tasks is important - it shows you can accomplish things. It also means that if the prospective employer does a reference check they can ask if the applicant did these things, and the answer is factual, yes or no. We are as specific as possible.

6. The paperwork things are explained as to their consequences to demonstrate what was accomplished. If you can say something like "sold 40 percent more than my predecessor in the same market conditions in my first month" so much the better.

7. We explained what "processing" meant and what equipment was used. Any relevant equipment, whether it's a spreadsheet or a forklift, should be described, after all if you learned it and used it, it shows you've accomplished something.

For an entry level position, hobbies and such may be put in as experience if phrased as above, as well as special projects related to school, if they're relevant to your job plans. Are nine years of dance lessons relevant to anything or will they seem silly? Think about it before you write it up.

Cover Letters

Cover letters are mostly read after the resume passes the first reading. The cover letter's purpose is to identify the job you're looking for and spell out something that makes you particularly well suited to the job.

The cover letter should start out being addressed, if possible to a specific person. Don't be afraid to call a company and just ask for the manager's name. It happens all the time and usually the person answering the phone will just give you the name rather than waste time asking questions about why you want it.

The letter should be in normal business letter form on the same stationery used for the resume, if it's submitted in paper form. For email, it's just a normal email with the resume generally set as the attachment, but follow whatever instructions the company has issued.

First line of the cover letter should identify the job. You can do this with a re: line or just say "I am applying for the assistant farm equipment sales position as advertised in the Tribune". If there's a number from the personnel department, put it down: "I am applying for the assistant farm equipment sales position, job number E45603". If you were referred to the addressee by some mutual friend, it should be in the opening sentence.

Do not waste time with obsolete phrases just because you think it sounds official, like "enclosed please find". They'll find it. Just use short sentences, conversational but not casual. You'll have to show how you and your background will benefit the company.

That's all you need, three paragraphs. You shouldn't restate or summarize the resume. Not only should you refer to a specific job, the cover letter's content should clearly be written be written for the specific job.

Always send a cover letter, whether it's requested or not. In some fields, it's expected that once you send the package you'll follow up with a phone call or email. You may want to close the letter by saying "I'll call you next week to discuss the next step". However in other industries, this step would mark you as a pest and a time waster. Know your field

Have fun, be creative, and good luck.

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