Writing a CV when you have no experience

By Andrew Fennell on 16-11-2016
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Writing a CV can be a challenging task for any candidate, but when you are school leaver or recent graduate with little or no experience, it can be even tougher. With many job adverts asking for experienced workers, just how exactly do you do write a CV that will appeal to your target employers and secure the job interviews you need to get a foot on the career ladder. The following tips will show you how to create an effective CV, even if you have no direct work experience.

Highlight transferable skills
Although you may not have the direct work experience that employers are asking for, it's likely that you still have some of the skills they need. Valuable workplace skills like organisation, planning and communication can be gained anywhere from studies and course work to university projects and travelling. So whatever non-work based experiences you include in your CV, be sure to detail the skills you utilise in them. Also part time bar and shop jobs may not seem highly relevant to the roles you are applying for but they give you a great opportunity to showcase your customer service and teamwork skills which are important in most roles and industries.

Start a course
It's never been easier to learn new skills than it is right now. With sites like codeacademy and udemy offering hundreds of online courses from web design and coding to languages and digital marketing; you can pick up valuable knowledge pretty quickly. Courses range in price and some are even free, so access is easy and you can promptly add your new skills to your CV when you've completed. 

Write about your hobbies
Often recruiters don't have much to compare student candidates on other than their grades, so stand out from the crowd by detailing some impressive hobbies and interests. Perhaps you run marathons or captain a sports team? Or maybe you play competitive chess or organise fund raising events? If you have any extra-curricular interests that show you are hard working and dedicated, let employers know in your CV.

Start some volunteer work
Nobody likes to work for free but sometimes volunteer work can give your CV the edge needed to beat the competition. Contact local businesses in your desired field and offer your services for free. If you can manage to get even a week of work experience and add it to your CV, you will become a much more appealing prospect to potential employers ahead of your peers.

Pick up the phone
Although not strictly a CV tip, this advice is hugely important to the success of your CV. In the digital age it's easy to forget the power of a simple phone call. If your CV is sitting unopened amongst hundreds of other similar candidates in a recruiter's overflowing inbox, then there is a good chance it will be skipped over. So if you haven't heard back from an application in a few days, don't be afraid to pick up the phone. It's a great way to get noticed, put some of your personality across and start to build a relationship with recruiters.

About the author
Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter, director of CV writing service StandOut CV and author of how to write a CV – The ultimate guide

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