Securing that first step on the career ladder after graduating can feel like an impossible task. Graduates often find themselves stuck in limbo when they realise most roles require at least some experience. But in order to get that experience in the first place, they need a job. A total catch 22 situation. Andrew Fennell, Director at StandoutCV explains why it’s not actually as impossible as it seems.
You probably already have way more experience than you realise! And if you don’t, you don’t need to wait to secure an employed role in order to gain some. The trick to writing a CV with no experience is getting creative and finding or gaining transferable skills and experiences which will make you a fantastic entry-level hire. With that said, here’s how to write a CV with no experience:
Lead with a personal statement
Most graduate-level jobs receive hundreds of applications. Realistically, recruiters are unlikely to read your whole CV unless you make it through to the shortlist. At first, they’ll simply be scanning through and making a quick yes or no decision. But guess what? You can actually use this to your advantage by really making the top of your CV count. A great way to do this is by writing a powerful personal profile which seamlessly persuades recruiters that they’d be mad not to hire you.
As a guide, aim for 8-15 lines of punchy, persuasive text which provides an insight into your skills, experiences, education and career motives. It’s best to research the role you’re applying and tailor your personal statement to match what the organisation is looking for in a candidate. Include your highest, most relevant qualifications, going into more detail about specific assignments or projects if they’re relevant to the role. You should also include any relevant work experience-placements, volunteering, personal projects and freelance work all count. You also need to talk about the type of role you’re looking for and why. This is your chance to show your passion and motivation for the industry you’re hoping to be a part of.
Add plenty of detail in your education
As a student or recent grad, you might not have much work experience but you do have plenty to brag about in terms of education. So, while a more experienced candidate may keep their education section brief, you should showcase your skills and talents be adding plenty of detail.
As well as including the institution, qualification, dates and grade, shout out about relevant topics or modules studied, projects and assignments completed, as well as impressive exam results. Remember to quantify your grades – if you achieved 90% in an exam, now’s your time to brag about it!
Highlight transferable skills
Think you’ve got no relevant skills for the role you’re applying to? Think again. During your time studying, on placement, whilst working part-time student jobs or undertaking extra-curricular activities, you’re bound to have picked up a ton. If you’ve completed a degree, you’ve completed numerous essays, handled multiple headlines, managed your time effectively and shown the ability to learn and take in new processes and information at speed – these are all valuable transferable skills!
Did you undertake a placement or internship during your studies? Have a think about your responsibilities and the skills you picked up by undertaking them. The same goes for personal projects. For example, if you run your own website, have a YouTube channel or write a blog, you’re bound to have some fantastic technical skills. Just make sure to include an example of when you used the skill instead of just noting it down. For example:
Teamwork: ‘Worked in a group of 4 to develop a marketing strategy for a local business as part of final – year Marketing Management module. By delegating responsibilities and working to individual strengths, achieved a high grade of 88%.’
Writing: ‘By running own personal blog, has a proven ability to research and write thought-provoking pieces in a creative way with immaculate spelling and grammar. Writing several 5,000+ word assignments with an average mark of 79% has further strengthened written communication abilities.’
Take a vocational course
If you feel that you’re lacking crucial skills for your target jobs, why not show some initiative and learn for yourself? While academic qualifications have their place, vocational qualifications win when it comes to proving you’re capable of doing a job. The internet is literally bursting with free (or reasonably priced) vocational courses. Course providers will differ from industry to industry, but if you’re struggling to find one, it’s worth checking out sites like Udemy and Alison
If you prefer to learn in person, why not check out your local college and see what’s on offer? And you don’t necessarily need to take a course to learn new skills – just get yourself a nice new notepad for some motivation and get online! Whether it’s by watching YouTube videos or seminars or simply reading industry blogs and papers, the internet makes it easy to pick up new skills and knowledge.