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 buzz word in the employment sphere. Though you may not think you have any of that stuff they call experience, here's how to write a CV with no previous work experience:
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 refers to skills and knowledge that you gain 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 any 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 gained from things other than a job.
Generally, employers will be looking for the key skills they expect 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 try to find skills from that experience that are 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 and time management skills 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: 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.
What you write: You have strong commitment and the ability to work well in a team.
What you see: As a freshman, you volunteered at a refugee center.
What you write: Compassion and engagement in current political and social affairs.
As long as you identify key skills, your extracurricular activities can be relevant in your CV and to your possible future employer. This makes writing a CV with no work experience so much easier! What’s more, it’s good to show that you are versatile. If you were part of many extracurricular activities, make sure to include the relevant ones to show that you have a large and diverse skillset.
So far so good, right?
If you are studying something relevant to the job you are applying for, by all means include it and any courses you have done well in. This demonstrates that you have transferable skills, even if you have no work experience. If you were a Teaching Assistant or Student Ambassador, you can talk about your experience with communication and organisation. If you wrote big academic papers like a dissertation that shows research skills.
Don't forget the obvious ones
Sometimes, we forget that obvious skills are important too! Include any IT skills you have such as PowerPoint or Excel. Are you social-media-savvy? Have you 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 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 relevant aspects of your extracurriculars and your degree. 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.
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!