Write your first CV

Young woman studying on laptop
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It’s all about potential: how to write a CV with no work experience

Follow these tips to stand out among competing candidates – from research to volunteering – and make your CV shine

Writing your CV can be tough if you have no work experience. When even entry-level jobs ask for experienced candidates, it can leave you wondering if you will ever get that first step on the career ladder.

Even the most senior professionals started with a blank CV and no experience, however, so it’s certainly possible to create an impressive CV without having the advantage of work experience. By using a professional format that highlights your transferable skills and achievements, you can create a CV that will land you interviews for the jobs you want.

 

Start with some research
If you’re just leaving education and have never worked in a professional environment, it’s unlikely that you will already know what employers look for in an ideal candidate. Get an advantage over competing applicants by researching your target employers and identifying what they value in an employee.

Decide on the types of jobs you want to apply for, search through plenty of relevant job adverts and make a list of the requirements that regularly appear. These could be qualifications such as GCSEs and A-levels or skills such as communication, organisation or languages. Some adverts for entry-level roles may also value extra-curricular activities.

Once you have built a list of essential candidate requirements, you will know exactly what to populate your CV with, giving you a huge advantage.

 

Draw on non-work related experience
To compensate for your lack of direct work experience, it’s important that you include plenty of detail in all other areas of your CV, to showcase the skills that you can offer an employer. The following key areas will give you plenty of scope to demonstrate your capabilities:

Education: As a school-leaver or recent graduate you should have plenty to write about your education. Use this section to showcase your talents by including plenty of detail around the grades you achieved, the topics you studied, other projects you completed and positions of responsibility you held. Writing about your educational experience comprehensively will allow you to demonstrate workplace skills such as organisation, planning, team work, motivation and meeting competing deadlines.

Interests and hobbies: Although you may think that your hobbies are irrelevant to your job search, they can often make a great addition to a CV. If you have any interests that are pertinent to your job or the role you are applying for (such as an IT candidate applicant who runs a personal website in their spare time) then it’s definitely worth including them to show you skills and dedication in the field. Impressive achievements such as running marathons, organising fundraising events or leading sports teams can prove you have a pro-active attitude and ambitious nature.

 

Sell yourself with a CV profile
It’s important that you capture the attention of recruiters and employers within the first few seconds of them opening your CV. Failure to do so can result in your CV being skipped over very quickly and forgotten about.

Head your CV up with a short profile that summarises your offerings and persuades readers that you are a strong candidate for your target roles. Your profile should detail your level of education and describe all of the relevant skills and knowledge you have in relation to the roles you are applying for. For best results, tailor your CV heavily to match the essential candidate requirements from your earlier research.

 

Take up some voluntary work
If you really want to strengthen your CV, then think about gaining some voluntary experience to boost it. Although the work will be unpaid, the experience you gain will be invaluable to your career prospects.

To find voluntary work, you could start with your school or university and enquire as to whether they list any volunteering opportunities. You can also try contacting local businesses or charities to offer your services for free – you will find that many organisations will be very grateful for the help, and provide you with plenty of training in return.

Once you’ve gained some voluntary experience (even if it’s only a few weeks), be sure to make it prominent on your CV and highlight the valuable skills you have learnt, as well as the impact you made within the organisation.

An article by Andrew Fennell published on ‘The Guardian’.
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