Guest post: Beth Leslie
Embarking on your career after university should be exciting. But many graduates find themselves facing the same frustrating conundrum: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience.
Luckily, the skills which employers value most are not only gained through the world of work. The trick to writing a CV with no experience is finding creative ways show you have the transferable skills needed to make you a fantastic hire.
Wondering how to write your CV with no work experience to mention? Read on:
1. Identify your most impressive qualities
top skills employers look for.
Are you a star on the hockey pitch? That’s teamwork and drive. Do you write a blog which always has your friends in stiches? You’re creative and good at written communication.
2. Open with a personal statement
Start by introducing yourself with your education level and a top skill or two (“I am a hardworking and self-motivated recent graduate”). You’ll go into more detail later, so only add in your degree subject or university if you feel it’s particularly impressive or relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Make sure you also set out what you’re looking for. If you’re applying for only one sector, this can be specific – “I’m looking for roles in PR” – but if you want to keep your options open, keep it general: “I’m looking for a role which will challenge me.”
3. List skills rather than roles
This is where that prewritten list of skills and examples come in useful. You can quickly cross-reference different experiences so you have multiple examples under each heading, with the evidence to back up your claims. Using examples makes a skill-based CV much more powerful – and believable!
4. Don’t forget “obvious” skills
If you can do something which could be useful in the workplace, put it in. Especially applicable are computer programs you can use and languages you can speak (you don’t have to be fluent for it to be useful, but don’t lie about your ability).
5. Treat your extra-curricular activities like jobs
Often, you’ll find extra-curricular roles are more similar to the graduate jobs you’re applying for than any casual work you undertook. Prioritize them as such. If you’re applying for copywriting roles, employers will be more impressed to hear that you wrote for your student newspaper than that you worked for a local fast-food restaurant.
6. Play up your degree
Don’t make the mistake of leaving blank space in your CV just because you’re lacking in work experience. The experience section of any CV is simply a way to demonstrate how past experiences would be useful to a future employer. You’ll have plenty to draw on from your degree, so use it!
7. Add some personality
Employers receive many applications for each graduate job. Standing out from the crowd and being memorable is a big boost towards getting called in for interview.
If there aren’t any obvious professional skills related to an achievement or activity, don’t try and crowbar them in. Simply list the hobby under an “other interests” section and don’t bother to go into detail. The aim here is simply to be memorable, not to convince employers that jumping out of a plane has prepared you for their workplace!