Everyone you ask will always emphasise the importance of presenting your experience on your CV. But there can be one minor problem – what if you don’t really have any? While we always advise trying to gain as much experience for your CV as possible, there has to be a starting point. So how can you best present your achievements with a lack of work experience?
Extract your Skills
You will have obtained skills along the road that can easily lend themselves to a work scenario. These are known in the recruitment world as transferable skills (see here). Think of anything you’ve done during coursework, extra-curricular activities, volunteering or other where you’ve put skills into place. For instance, if going for a role as an Events Co-ordinator, you can fall back on times when you perhaps arranged social events for a group at university or similar. You are going for roles that you believe you would be good at, so think about how you can prove this to the employer.
Paint Yourself in a Good Light
If you have held roles that are irrelevant to the one you are applying for now, you can still work them towards your advantage. A shop floor role is a different story to a graduate role, but you can still show a good work ethic, especially if you held the job long-term whilst studying or having other commitments alongside it. Rather than stating you are hard working or enthusiastic, show examples of this in your CV. If you’ve ever been part of a project or worked towards a long-term goal, put that in too.
Contrary to what you might have been told, a CV doesn’t have to go in chronological order. This is especially useful when constructing a CV with lack of experience. Put relevant skills, coursework or voluntary work first rather than less relevant roles. For example, if going for a role in marketing, make a section for ‘Marketing skills/experience’ and start with that. First impressions are crucial at this stage, so if you’re making a good one, the lack of experience becomes much less of an issue.
Go The Extra Mile
Whatever you lack in experience you must make up for in other ways. This means putting in more effort than a more experienced candidate that has more opportunities available to them. As a result, put together a very well presented CV, avoiding clichés and including dynamic and engaging terms that help you stand out. There could be candidates going up against you with the relevant experience but have sent off a poorly presented, hodge-podged CV who will be unlikely to succeed. Make sure you always include a cover letter also, highlighting your reasons for wanting the role and why you would be suitable.
Remember that while experience is important, it’s not the be all and end all of finding the right person to hire. It’s simply a case of deciding which credentials make you suitable for the role and making the obvious to the recruiter.
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