It’s an unavoidable conundrum; you need a job to gain experience, but you can’t secure a job without experience! Your CV is your opportunity to demonstrate your passion and work ethic, so to ensure you’ve every possible chance of success in your job-seeking ventures, you need to make sure it conveys your potential. Here’s our tips on how to improve your CV when you’re lacking in work experience!
A really simple way of making your CV pop is to scan the job advert and pick out all the relevant skills the recruiter is looking for. Once you have this information, you can tailor your CV to complement the job description, increasing your employability! If your CV is relatively bare, including a dedicated skills section is an easy way to pad it out. Tailoring your CV to each job you apply for, prevents coming across as generic and shows you have the necessary attributes required for the roles you’re applying for.
Long gone are the days where CV’s began with stating what you’d like to achieve from career goals. Employers are much more eager to understand what you can do for them. Your personal statement will sum up your professional identity and is your chance to grab the hiring manager’s attention and convince them that you are a worthy candidate. So don’t waste it! Keep it short, succinct and relevant to the coveted role. You don’t need experiencing in a traditional work setting to be convincing, use your skills and personality to stand out! If you persuade them of your enthusiasm, you’re halfway there!
If you’ve got a degree, you’ll undoubtedly have developed a number of transferable skills over the course of your studies. Studying for any qualification requires dedication, and you’ll have refined your research skills, your ability to present your ideas as well as contributing to group projects - all of which have their place in almost every job opportunity. So demonstrate how your experiences are useful to a future employer.
It’s not just your educational background and professional experience that says something about you. Your extracurricular activities are a great way to convey your passions and usually encompass impressive qualities and achievements. Remember to keep it relevant! List your interests and match them with the desirable skills. If you’re captain of a sports team, that shows dedication, teamwork and drive. Paint in your spare time? You’re creative and have a good imagination! Enjoy blogging? You’ve got great communication skills etc.
There is tons of evidence out there that shows employers are happy to consider voluntary experience. Take some time to think about any volunteer work you’ve done in the past or any work experience completed during education. You’ll no doubt have acquired some valuable skills, so why not include them?
Whether the experience you’ve done is directly relevant is not important, but ensure you leverage their transferable qualities into the role you’re applying for. Employer’s won’t always expect you to have exact experience, but they would like to see you’ve got the ability to utilise what you’ve learned into another job or industry.
As mentioned, enthusiasm counts for a lot more than you may give it credit for. Relevant experience is not the only thing that will help you get a foot in the door. Businesses also want to see that you’ve got the personality to match their company culture. So don’t underestimate the attributes that make you shine! Be sure to adequately research any potential recruiters and learn about their vision and values and incorporate that in your CV. That way you can write persuasively and convincingly that you’re a great fit for them.
The majority of employers will scan resumes using a form of an applicant tracking system (ATS), so your resume may not even be picked up for consideration if it doesn’t include a list of keywords that the employer is looking for in a candidate.
Use the job advert and description to locate the keywords relevant to your application and assimilate them into your CV. The idea is to do this seamlessly, without looking like you are listing buzzwords. So be clever and creative!
Your CV is not the place for greater detail, so including an effective cover letter is the perfect opportunity for you to expand on the skills and experience that make you a great candidate. Keep to your strengths and always find ways of linking it the essential and desirable qualities the recruiter is looking for. Don’t draw any attention to your weaknesses, if you don’t think you’re a suitability candidate, nobody else will either!
Brevity is key, your CV should be kept under a side of A4, recruitment managers are pressed for time and will usually only skim through your CV. It therefore needs to be short and pack a punch!
With such limited space, you can’t afford to include anything irrelevant or that essentially wastes space. So toss the references! They are typically used after an interview, so are not necessary to include in your CV - simply state they’re available on request. Also avoid using cliches, in lieu of experience, it’s even more important to evidence your individuality. Don’t fall back on generic statements, they’re unoriginal and will not get you noticed. Be creative whilst maintaining professionality, that’s what will make you memorable!
Many websites offer a plethora of CV templates and samples which can help you get started on your CV, such as Prospects. This will help you make the most of your layout and tailor it to your job role and prior experience.
The important thing to do is not panic and keep your approach positive. Almost every person has been in the same position; whether they are trying to secure their first job or are looking to change career paths. Remember, you don’t need exact experience, you need relevant experience. If you’re confident you have the potential to learn the required skills, don’t be afraid to ask for training - enthusiasm is as valuable as anything else. If you still feel your CV is too light, consider looking for unpaid opportunities to practice skills that you can use to build your CV!