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So I am building a resume for a friend who is a Computer Science student and seeking an entry job in the industry. Problem is that he never had relevant jobs before. Jobs he had are:

  • Cashier at a gas station
  • Security guard

I know in some cases when irrelevant experience is worth mentioning, I should include two sections in the resume, Relevant Experience and Irrelevant Experience. But in this case:

  • Should I include one section but add irrelevant jobs?
  • Should I include both Relevant and Irrelevant sections, and add school projects to Relevant?
  • Else?

Thank you!

  • 1
    Just ditch the "Relevant" and make sure you explain what useful skills your friend gained from the roles he has had, most skills are transferable, even if they are from not directly relevant fields. If he is straight out of school then definitely feel free to add any projects that may have helped. – Bee Jun 26 at 14:14
  • No personal github projects, contributions to open source, etc. to be listed? – ivanivan Jun 26 at 14:49
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    Instead of 'Relevant Experience', put 'Project Experience' and list in detail his school projects and the outcomes. This was standard when applying for internships at my university. I suggest you still leave the job experience; it shows he is productive and can hold a job. – Tryb Ghost Jun 26 at 15:28
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    What does "cashier" and "guard" say about a person? He knows how to work! He shows up on time. He was trusted to handle his employer's money. If these jobs help pay his university fees, they prove perseverance and self-reliance, both valuable qualities to an employer. A story worth telling on a resume, – O. Jones Jun 26 at 16:47
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Why would you include two sections about experience? Simply include one and call it "Experience". If you're applying for an entry-level position, it's expected that you may not have much, if any, experience in the field you are applying for - that's why it's an entry level job. However, any work experience can demonstrate your ability to function in a professional environment. Eventually, over time, you may choose to drop some of the less relevant experiences from your resume as you gain more relevant experiences.

3

Like anyone making a career change, this is a valid question. One really needs to account for the past several years of employment, to show a work history, and ability to hold a job. But a potential employer looking to hire a computer programmer doesn't much care if said employee can function as a gas station cashier, specifically.

What I have done in that situation is that I put my education at the top. List the school, degrees, and areas of study prominently. Under qualifications/skills, display the languages or technologies he knows. Put job history last. It's good to list that he's had a job, rather than sitting on the couch, but it doesn't matter as much WHAT job he's had. Perhaps listing some soft skills such as leadership qualities used, or anything remotely close to the job he's applying for is good. Perhaps he set up some computer equipment for his job at the gas station? List it.

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I don't think it necessarily matters whether the experience is professional for entry level jobs

You should lump all his work experience together into a single section, then include projects that he has worked on that are relevant to the role he is going for. Something like any small programs that he has written

I was in a similar position for my junior engineering role and included a section on my resume for my Github projects, for example an automatic cryptocurrency trading bot - written in Python

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It's the same as if you had no prior job.

Any experiences, work experience, trial days and even hobbies etc... These things need to be broken down and figure out which skills are transferable, write them down and state how they are transferable and relevant to the computer science field.

The Resume needs to be built around Personal traits/skills that are relevant.

For example, Computer science degree. This is the most relevant thing that your friend has in relation. Focus on projects, research. Get your friend to do some personal projects, just something small to show his ability. Talk about this in the resume.

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When I was applying for my first software related jobs with little to no experience I structured out my CV as follows:

  1. Profile (incl. Skills I value in myself relevant to the job, breif description of technologies I love relevant to the job and anything I think I specialize in and can talk a bit more about.)

  2. Education (incl. Since all/most of the experience I have with the job I'm applying for is through my education, detail every relevant module and project, giving modules and projects 2 separate sub-sections within education.

  3. Achievements/Projects (incl. I've entered a quite a few hackathons though my degree and I have won a few 1/2/3rd places so I've added them here with a short description with the project done and the technologies used)

  4. Employment History (incl. Listed my employment history with a basic line with what I did in the role and listed ANY relevant experience that was IT related ie. Created excel spreadsheets to simplify processes or calculations done on a daily basis, documented processes or onboarding new employees).

  5. Technical Skills (incl. any Programming & Languages you've used, Networking experience, Operating System experience, Design experience and/or applications you have experience in using. This section would be primarily keywords to try and get matches on automated systems.

  6. Interests/References (incl. Any hobbies, clubs, things you like to do and I'd leave reference with available on demand since your sharing your CV around)

The 2 key points I would push when creating a CV is to include keywords that match the job your applying for and to include as much relevant experience as possible. Being able to hold a job is relevant but don't go into too much detail if the person interviewing you can't talk to you about it at the interview.

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As others have mentioned, emphasizing education over experience is a good idea. But skills are what will get him an interview.

The industry that your friend is trying to get into is a highly competitive one. His competition will be, in addition to people like himself, people who come home from class, do their homework and then get on the computer and program in their "spare time". People who peruse Stack Overflow for fun, and who, halfway through their computer science class, could probably turn around and teach the class.

If your friend is not one of those people, he's going to have a tough time. The bar is high. And if he is one of those people who dream in code, why doesn't he have any relevant experience? Even if he wasn't paid for it, any he can still showcase it on his resume. And if he hasn't been doing a lot of self study and experimentation beyond what is required for his classwork, he needs to start. The days in which you could walk into an IT job without mad skills and expect to learn what you need to know on the job are long gone and twenty years buried.

We have a number of interns at the company I work for. You can't sit down with them for very long without coming away with one key impression: these are people who are hungry for their profession. They read, they experiment, they are good at what they do. They keep up with IT trending, they can at least recognize most related technologies. They usually have one or two areas of emphasis and are familiar with the related tools. It's very clear that they would be programming even if they weren't getting paid or graded for it.

This is the face that your friend, and by extension his resume, needs to show to prospective employers. Sure, he hasn't been able to get anyone to pay him for programming yet, but is he diving into his target environment with both feet? Is he doing extra credit projects? Is he looking for opportunities to get more experience?

His resume should show that he is. Brief descriptions of projects that he has done and what technologies he was able to tuck under his belt as a result of the project. Volunteer work is a good way to get relevant experience. When I was in college I did work study programming jobs and exploratory projects. I volunteered to write programs and create web pages for non-technical staff ("I could write you a program to do that more efficiently, let's talk about what relevant tasks you need to do...")("I bet we could get more people interested in your club if it had a snazzy web page...")

These are the things that should go in your friend's "Relevant Experience" section. Relevant Experience is the platform that supports the all important Skills section, which is what prospective employers base their choices on. And yes, I do know that for a fact. The last time I was job hunting (late last year) the one question which I asked all my interviewers was "Out of all the resumes that you probably went through, what was it in my resume that caught your eye?" I got the same result in every single case. They looked at me as if they weren't sure why the question even needed to be asked and said "Er, because you have the skill-set that we are looking for".

I have also had recruiters tell me several times that everyone knows that IT people inflate their resumes to pretend to have skills that they don't, so employers look carefully at the experience section to make sure it supports those skills which they are looking for.

The fact that he's a student is no excuse for not having the experience. As long as he can show that he is hungry to learn, he may find someone willing to take a chance on a kid with no work experience. But without some kind of experience, he's going to be at a big disadvantage. He doesn't have to get paid for the experience, but it needs to be there.

A random google for "sample resume college student" turns up https://resumegenius.com/resume-samples/college-student-resume-example

There's plenty of experience here, but it's pretty clear that it isn't from a paid job. That doesn't matter. College students aren't expected to have real work experience, but IT employers need to see that the student is doing more than just doing classwork.

Sit down with your friend and brainstorm over every project he can think of that he has done. Then find a way to massage that into the relevant experience section. If he's going to claim the skills employers require, his resume needs to show, in his experience section, that he has actually used the skills he claims he has. Classwork is all very well and good, and a necessary foundation, but in the IT world it is just baby steps. Even if what he's applying for is an internship, theoretical knowledge isn't going to be of much value to a prospective employer.

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