In spite of a recent CBC documentary highlighting the plight of many graduates, unemployed or underemployed with mountains of debt, I still receive requests for resume assistance from undergrads with zero work experience. Usually, the reason given for the lack of work experience on their resume is that they wanted to focus on their studies, or that they received advice from an elder that working in the usual coffee houses or restaurants is beneath them and wouldn’t look good on a resume.
Nothing could be further from the truth. To be clear, having no work entries on your resume at the time of graduation will put you at a severe disadvantage when competing with thousands of other applicants for your entry level role. An employer respects the drive and determination shown by graduates who can demonstrate an ability to balance their academic studies with regular part-time employment. It looks good on your resume.
A recent client who worked at a well-known coffee house gained experience of working in a customer-facing role in a highly-dynamic working environment. He had responsibility for delivering outstanding customer service, supervising junior staff members, enforcing corporate policies and procedures, adhering to safe workplace practices, opening and closing the store, processing orders, handling cash, and producing daily operational reports for management. He even won an award for outstanding customer service. Not working during your studies is not an option. If I were reviewing resumes with a view to recruiting graduates, I’d exclusively seek out candidates with work experience on their resume.