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How to write a CV when you have no work experience

You’ve finished university, it’s time to enter the real world and find a job. For this you need a great CV, one that will show how passionate you are, what a great work ethic you have and how dedicated an employee you would be. We’re sure you’ve been told to relate your work experience to the role you’re applying for, but what if you don’t have any experience?

Show your potential

An employer is not only looking at what you have done, but what you can do. You have to convince them that you are capable of taking on the job. Make a list of all your relevant experience. If you are a fresh IT graduate, have you done an internship during your studies? Have you had experience working for a friend or relative’s company, even for a little while? You can also talk about general experiences you have had. Talk about travel, and challenges you faced. How did you overcome them and what lessons did you learn? While you are still studying, record the skills and work experiences you acquire just so you have an inventory of good examples to draw from on applications and in interviews.

Be honest about your skills

Talk about your skills sensibly. Remember, the employer does not expect you to have wisdom and expertise at this point. Make a list of top your top five skills, and find examples where you demonstrated it. If you want to say you have leadership skills, you could talk about an event you organised. Are you good at communication? Provide an example of how this has helped you in work or on your course.

Highlight your achievements

Talk about your achievements in different contexts such as study, work or leisure. By talking about your experiences you are also reinforcing your skills. You could be dynamic and proactive - you are aware of what is happening in the industry and subscribe to relevant newsletters and participate in discussions in person or online.

Make sense of your qualifications

Graduates often fail to relate their qualifications and skills in a way that is meaningful to the recruiter. They cannot explain what it means to hire them, and how exactly they can help the company. For instance, you might mention dissertation writing, which is not relevant to the employer. But if you say you have the skill to research and write lengthy documents that will make communications easier for the department, you will have a much better response and understanding from the employer. You have to bridge the gap of what you did and how it relates to the job.

You can read the rest of our CV writing tips in Part 2 of this article.

This post was kindly contributed by the Open Colleges Blog.

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