Know a high school or college student who's trying to write a résumé, but has little or no work experience? This post's for you!

I'm guest lecturing on résumé-writing this week at North Carolina Central University, and most of the students are freshmen who have little or no practical work experience. Luckily, most of them have some community/church work and loads of school committees and clubs. While this isn't the same as work experience, it's easy enough to apply the same writing technique to describing them. The key is in the details.

Whether you're writing about work experience or volunteer/club work, focus on the details:


Verifiable facts like designations and awards show your character and performance. Add a sentence or two to provide context:

  • Johnston Scholar, 2010: 1 of 5 students to receive a full scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Valedictorian, East Bladen High: 4.25 GPA out of x students


Anecdotes and real-life experiences illustrate your initiative and commitment. Again, include a sentence or two to provide context:

  • Founder, Roosevelt Recycles: Started school-wide recycling program that reduced waste stream by 34%. Advised 3 other high school environmental clubs in creating their own programs.
  • Member, Interact Club: Raised $850 -- the most of 35 members -- to fund a leadership program for middle schoolers.

Résumé examples & writing strategies

For examples and strategies, download our Words That Work packet that includes tips and techniques for résumé- and cover letter-writing and more!