How to Write a CV with No Work Experience
It can be tough securing paid employment without having any previous work experience. The trick is to get creative with how you showcase the talents and qualities that you have to offer; after all, getting a job is all about confidence and selling yourself well. Here are a few practical tips for compiling a successful CV with no work experience.
It is never a good idea to be dishonest about your skills or work history, because if you manage to get to the interview stage it will quickly become apparent that you don’t have the experience you claim to. Be as honest as possible about all aspects of who you are and what you can do; remember that inexperience won’t always be looked upon as a bad thing, but dishonesty will be seen as a sign of poor character every time. Some businesses will even seek out candidates with no work experience as it means they can train them to do things in a manner that completely aligns with their unique business needs.
List Volunteer Experience
If you have done any volunteering you most definitely should include it in your CV. Just because you weren’t paid for your work that doesn’t mean the experience wasn’t extremely valuable. You will have certainly picked up skills and knowledge in the process so be sure to showcase these. Having a history of volunteering will also show that you have a good heart and aren’t just interested in making money.
Talk about Community Activities
Being involved in your community shows that you are the type of person that likes to contribute to the greater good, and this is exactly the kind of employee that every business wants. Whether you are a member of the local cricket team, sit on the P&F committee or organize a street party on your block every year; you should absolutely talk about it in your CV. Your history of community involvement will often be what sets you apart from other job candidates.
Show How Your Education Is Relevant
When you don’t have much work experience your education becomes far more important to helping you land a job. Break down your education and highlight the parts of it that you feel are most related to the position you are applying for; this will not only show off what you have learnt but also that you know how to use it. Don’t forget to include any workshops or short courses you may have taken as these are great indicators of a willingness to continually learn.
Talk about Your Personality Strengths
Having the right personality for a job will always make a significant difference, and so bringing attention to your personality strengths can be a great way to boost your job search. While strengths such as being calm under pressure, a good listener or a people person will always be well received; try to highlight different aspects of your personality depending on the job you are applying for. It is also a smart move to work on turning any of your weaknesses into strengths because nothing will impress a prospective employer more.
Highlight Your Skills
To get a job without any work experience it is vital that you hype up your skills, and obviously it is best to highlight those most closely related to the position on offer. Being able to speak multiple languages, use particular software or operate machinery are all good skills to highlight; as are things like your typing speed or social media abilities. If the job you want requires skills that you don’t yet have, you may need to take a short course or do some independent study to increase your chances of securing employment.
Detail All Awards and Achievements
Be sure to mention any awards you have received or achievements that you have accomplished, even if they don’t seem closely related to the job you are applying for. Sporting awards can show your passion, artistic accomplishments your creativity, and recognition for improvement will portray you as someone who is tenacious and never gives up. Don’t forget to include achievements such as building your own backyard shed or learning how to tango, as these will help to show your style as well as your commitment.
Travelling can teach you many lessons that can’t be learnt any other way, and these days even those with lots of work experience have a travel section on their CV. Depending on the type of travelling you do, it can encourage creativity, problem solving and patience, as well as increase your global awareness. Not everyone is courageous enough to leave the comfort of their own home to travel the world; so if you have done so for any stretch of time, be sure to make a point of talking about it.
Don't Forget Hobbies
Including a hobbies section can be a good idea as it shows that you aren’t a one dimensional kind of person. Some hobbies may even make you a better candidate for the job, such as those that require focus, patience or creative thinking. Only include activities that you do regularly so you have plenty to say about them if it comes up in the interview; you may even get lucky and have a similar hobby to the person doing the hiring. Businesses and recruiters increasingly seek ways to get at the ‘real person’ in the recruitment process; providing some details about what you do in your free time is a wonderful way to showcase exactly who you are.
List Your Goals
Showing some ambition is a good way to help set you apart from your peers, and outlining a few of the goals you have for yourself will improve your chances of getting employed. While it is commendable to have lofty goals, if your dream is to one day take over the company it may be wise to keep it to yourself as you don’t want anyone to feel threatened by the prospect of you being given an opportunity. Overly ambitious goals can also be interpreted as a lack of realism, humility and team player instincts, so do your best to keep your goals ambitious without going overboard.
Order Your CV Carefully
The way that you order your CV will make a significant difference to your chances of securing employment. If a lot of people have applied for the same job your application may only receive a very quick look, so whether your education is your most impressive asset or if it is your volunteer work, your application will have the greatest impact if it starts off strong. Remember that most recruiters and HR departments are time poor and will discount a CV in a heartbeat if it is difficult to navigate. A great way to overcome this is to summarize your key points in a short introductory paragraph; this will help to orientate the reader as to exactly who you are and what you are offering.
Using the right keywords is extremely important as this will help reinforce the fact that you are the best person for the job. Some businesses will even use software to scan applications and only consider those that contain the right keywords. To know which words to use, carefully examine the job listing as well as the company website. Take note of how the company describes themselves as well as the way that they talk about the position; keywords will often include terms such as sustainable, team-oriented or highly motivated. Key criteria will always include these vital terms, so be sure to use them in your cover letter as well as throughout your entire application.
You don’t need to have decades of work experience to secure meaningful employment, with one of the most important steps being to realize just how much you have to offer. Remember that anyone recruiting for a position is assessing your application as a kind of first 'project'. So before you even begin the job search, spend some time perfecting your CV along with a well written cover letter that can be easily adapted to each application. Get a few other opinions from friends and family as well; they may have a longer list of your skills and talents or recall different highlights in your life.