How to write a CV with no previous work experience

We've all been there: you need experience to get the job, but need a job to get the experience. Maybe you are looking for an internship or you want to prep your CV for your future entry-level jobs. In any case, experience is a hot word in the employment sphere. But, you may not think you have any of that spicy stuff they call experience. Here's how to write a CV with no previous work experience:

work experience at work

Work experience: what is it?

Looking for a job or an internship as a student can be very difficult and very time-consuming, especially when they ask for work experience.

So, what is experience and what do employers mean when they are looking for it?

Experience usually means skill and knowledge that you get from directly observing or taking part in something, in this case a previous job or event that allowed you to gain such skill and knowledge.

But how can you, as a student, write a CV with no work experience to date? Answer: you make the most of what you have!

Focus on skill and value rather than position

First of all, don’t be intimidated by the fact that you may not have had work experience in the field that you are looking to get employed in, or that you haven’t had multiple internships during your time as a student; your CV can demonstrate skills from things other than direct employment experience.

Generally, employers will be looking for key skills that are to be expected from interns or student workers, such as a great work ethic and a genuine interest in what you want to do.

If you have had smaller, maybe unrelated jobs then it might be worth reviewing what skills you have learned that would be applicable to the job you are searching for now. For example, if you worked as a waiter at a café, make it clear that you have people skills, time management, and that you work well under pressure. Also, think about what value you added to your job; did you start new training programs, for example?

But make sure to keep your CV relevant; it should be quality over quantity. Don’t add that you worked as an ice-cream server and know how to make a bomb banana split.

Your extracurriculars matter too


What you see: you played football for five years.

Translates to: you have strong commitment and an ability to work well within a team.

What you see: in freshman year of university, you volunteered at a refugee center.

Translates to: compassion and engagement in current political and social affairs.

As long as you can identify the skills, your extra-curricular activity can be relevant in your CV and to your possible future employer, making it simple to write a CV with no work experience! What’s more, it’s good to show that you are versatile; if you were a part of many extracurriculars, make sure to include the relevant ones and show that you have a large and diverse tool-box of skills that the employers are looking for.

So far so good, right?

Your degree

If you are studying something relevant to the position you are applying for, by all means include it and any courses you have achieved well in and that demonstrate you have transferable skills, even if you have no work experience. As a Teaching Assistant or Student Ambassador, you can talk about your experience with communication and organisation; if you did any big academic papers like a dissertation, that shows specialist knowledge and research skills.

Don't forget the obvious ones

Sometimes, we forget that the obvious skills are important too! Include any IT skills you have, such as PowerPoint or Excel. Are you social-media-savvy? Designed your own blogs or websites? If that is something the job description is looking for, include it! Even if you think they might be no-brainers, the employer might be looking for evidence that you have those very skills. Seems easy enough!

Writing a CV with no work experience is simple if you do your homework and know what the employer is looking for. Focus on skill and value rather than titles; stress the aspects of your extracurriculars and your degree that are applicable; and remember that the employer can't read your mind, so include experiences that might seem obvious. Finally, make sure to tailor your CV to each application and check that you know exactly what they are looking for; only include the skills and experiences you think are relevant to that  application and that the employers will be interested in reading about!

Now go out into the world and write some killer CVs.


Do you have any tips on making the best out of your CV? Comment below!