Stay informed in your job search
Click 'Allow' for important updates
Don’t Have a Resume? You Can Still Apply to Jobs
Sarah Brodsky / AUGUST 25 2021

Usually, it makes sense to just write a resume before starting your search. But sometimes, it’s not possible to create a resume right away—for example, if you’re having trouble with it because English isn’t your first language, or you don’t have a personal computer to keep your resume. In these cases, you might have no choice but to start applying to jobs without a resume in hand. 

If you don’t have a resume, you may feel like you can’t apply to jobs. Although not having a resume does present more of a challenge, you can still use these tactics to apply to jobs while working on putting together a resume.

Apply to entry-level jobs

Entry-level roles typically require less experience and don’t require a hospitality degree or equivalent, and are a great opportunity for those looking to break into the industry. In these roles, employees have the opportunity to gain experience and industry knowledge that will then help them create a resume in the future.

Apply in person

If you apply in person, you can verbally share the information that would normally be found on a resume. An in-person conversation also allows the employer to assess your personality and social skills, which can be more important for hiring decisions than the facts on a resume.

If you make a good impression, an employer might agree to take a chance by hiring you. Look for opportunities to apply in person at job fairs or at businesses that post “We’re hiring!” signs.

Focus on smaller employers

Large companies usually have hiring procedures in place with standard requirements, and they’ll almost always expect to see a resume. Very small businesses are sometimes a little less formal, and they might be more forgiving if you don’t submit every document that’s ordinarily part of an application.

If the owner of a small business is also the person who interviews all the candidates and makes all the hiring decisions, they’re free to make an exception for you because the process is entirely in their control. Thus, you may have better luck applying to a mom-and-pop diner or a family-owned inn rather than a regional chain, for example. 

Look for online application forms

If a company you want to work for has an online application system that makes attaching a resume optional, it is a great alternative to having a formal resume. Online applications provide separate fields for each standard resume section, and you can just fill out those fields one by one instead of submitting a resume.

Use your network

A resume is less important when the person who’s hiring knows you well. Someone who knows you personally is probably already familiar with most of the facts a resume would contain, and they might be more understanding if you explain why you don’t have a resume yet. Reach out to any friends you have in the industry, and ask if they’re hiring or if they can connect you to someone who is. Even if they’re not in a position to hire, they might agree to put in a good word for you with their manager or to help you with resume writing.

You may be able to land an entry-level job without a resume, but keep in mind that you are going to need a resume to progress through your career, so it’s a good idea to get one sooner rather than later.

If you’re struggling to put together a resume on your own, ask for help. You can find free assistance with resume writing through public libraries, community centers, and American Job Centers.

We’ve also compiled free resume-building resources that you can access on any computer, phone, or tablet.