Writing a CV when you haven’t got very much to put on it yet feels quite demotivating, especially if you’re just one of hundreds of applicants. Guest blogger Andrew Fennel from StandOut CV suggests that, if your application is looking blank at the moment, you can add much more detail by incorporating your transferable skills.
You don’t need an ambitious employment history or loads of work placements under your belt, you just need to be able to identify which of your skills are most valuable to a recruiter or hiring manager.
Finding your transferable skills
If a skill is transferable, you can apply it to different scenarios and job roles. This can include problem-solving, using initiative, time management, budget planning and more.
Casual part-time jobs, volunteering, temporary contract work, freelancing and university projects can teach transferable skills which are very valuable to employers. Even if 6 months behind a bar didn’t feel like it was teaching you very much, it’s surprising how many transferable skills you’ll have picked up while pulling pints and serving customers.
Re-read the job description
Employers and recruiters want to find the best person for the role. Whatever skills and qualities they’re looking for should be clearly listed in the original job ad. Read the role in detail and highlight every required or desirable skill you can demonstrate you have.
If the job ad isn’t quite detailed enough, you might have to read between the lines. If they want someone who will “take ownership of projects”, they want to know you’re comfortable taking control. If the environment is “fast-paced”, they want to see evidence of working well under pressure.
Look back at successes & challenges
Think about previous part-time jobs or work experience placements (it doesn’t matter if they were paid or unpaid!). There will have been moments where you felt stretched, challenged or received a pat on the back for something. Mention the most relevant under each previous job role or work experience placement.
These moments are often the most interesting to an employer because they demonstrate how you can adapt and use your past experience. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, like receiving an award or a big bonus, it just needs to show your potential and development.
Don’t forget your academic experience
Your university degree will teach a lot of transferable skills, from working in a team to communication. If you’re applying to graduate roles, the employer will expect a lot of your most recent experience to come from your degree course, whether it was scientific, practical, or a humanities discipline.
List the most important skills underneath your CV profile in the top third of the page – the first place a reader looks. This list should be relevant to the job you’re applying for, so you might need to edit the skills section depending on the role you apply for.
Transferable skills = job interviews
Getting that first job after university is tough. The secret to success is a carefully written CV. If you can demonstrate your transferable skills, you’ll be more likely to make the cut in competitive industries.