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How to write a CV when you have no work experience

The second part of our article on writing a CV with little or no work experience. You can read Part 1 here.

Show interest in the field

Why do you want to work for the company? Do you have any specific reasons that go in your favour? Is there something about their campaigns/projects/ethos that inspires you? Always do your research before you applying for jobs; then you can identify skills and experiences that are of a particular importance. This is the perfect opportunity for you to tailor your application so that it stands out from the crowd.

Talk about any work experience

It doesn’t have to be paid work, or even in the same field. Have you participated in youth leadership programs, or a member of a team? Have you done any mentoring? Just always relate it to the job in questions. Plan to gain some relevant work experience and voluntary work; have something lined up for holidays and free time. Remember to get your formal placement and internship applications in early.

Mention your transferable skills

Skills like IT, sales, customer service or word processing are enough to get you started in an entry level or assistant position. Make the most of university life and extra-curricular activities to develop your transferable skills. Go to careers fairs and employer presentations and ask recruiters questions to find out what they want and then perfect those skills.

Bring your profile to life

This is the opening paragraph of your CV. Keep it simple, concise and to the point. In four to five sentences describe what sort of position you are looking for, your relevant experience and what you can offer to the employer in broad terms. Use your university’s careers service and find out what kind of training sessions they have available. Enrol on relevant courses and workshops, and get feedback on your CV so it showcases your assets and strengths.

For example, consider this personal profile: “I am a science graduate looking for the position of a customer service associate in a well established company where I can utilise my gained skills to work efficiently. Excellent leadership and ability to work in a team can help me in working in the professional environment.”

Or this one: “Graduate of ABC College’s speech communication program seeking a position in training and development. Offer hands-on experience in classroom teaching, corporate training and communication research.”

Avoid generalised objectives, it needs to be targeted. Remember to emphasise what you know and what can do; use the personal profile as an introduction to this. Remember to make note of not only your achievements but skills and personality traits. Employers are often looking for a flexible, resilient and imaginative candidate as well as somebody who has traditional hard skills. Present what you learned from your qualification in an enticing manner. Never assume that the employer knows what you gained from it.

Finally, don’t forget to network! Ask family members, friends and other contacts if they could help you get some work experience and also use them as a resource to see which careers really interest you.

Read the rest of our CV writing tips in Part 1 of this article.

This post was kindly contributed by the Open Colleges Blog.

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