Whether you’ve recently graduated or you’re still studying, making the transition from education to the workplace is not without its challenges. One of the biggest hurdles that students and graduates face is often demonstrating experience on their CV, particularly if they’ve never had a full-time job, not least one relevant to their new industry.
But if you’ve found yourself in this situation, there is good news. A little creativity goes a long way, and there are other ways you can add work experience to your CV. Below, we’ll demonstrate five ways to do this.Voluntary work
Adding voluntary work to your CV can have a number of benefits. Firstly, it shows your character, the fact that you gave up your time to help/work with others. But more than this, it can also help to highlight any workplace or transferable skills you gained along the way. Take this opportunity to show how you balanced your studies with your volunteer work and to highlight any key skills you used.
For example, your voluntary position will likely have required skills such as communication, organisation, time-keeping and problem-solving. All of which are very desirable skills in the workplace. You should also reference any voluntary projects you worked on, companies you worked for or charity events that you took part in.
Do you have any hobbies or interests that you have turned into your own personal project? If so, you can add these to your CV to help demonstrate your skills.
Some examples of personal projects you may have worked on might include:
- Building your own website
- Writing a blog
- Taking up photography
- Learning to code
- Writing an e-book
These are just a few examples, but any personal project can be used to showcase your dedication, creativity, initiative and other important skills. Again, adding your projects can be even more beneficial if they’re related to the job or industry you’re applying to. For example, writing your own blog looks great when you’re applying to be a content creator.
But ultimately, no matter what your project, don’t be afraid to add these to your CV if they showcase your skills.
If you’ve had any part-time jobs in the past, these can be documented on your CV in the same way that any full-time role can. You should include the name of the company and the dates you worked there, along with any key achievements or responsibilities you had during your employment.
If you can quantify your achievements, this can boost your chances of being invited in for an interview. An example might be ‘when working as a barista I was tasked with training 10 new members of staff’. As we’ve already mentioned above, no matter what your part-time work might have been, whether it’s relevant to your new industry or not, you can take this opportunity to shout about the transferable skills you gained.
You should include any freelance work or “side hustles” that you have completed during your studies. Even if you no longer do these. Lots of people have begun to make the most of freelance opportunities and digital tools to help them make money. We are increasingly seeing students who:
- Teach in their free time
- Monetise their blog or social media
- House sit or look after people’s pets
- Offer graphic design or writing services
- Upcycle objects or sell things online
All of these require dedication, business sense and skills. Therefore, they can be an important addition to your CV and should not be left off just because you worked freelance rather than for an employer.
During your time at university, or perhaps even back in school or college, you might have had the opportunity to take part in an educational work experience placement. At the time, you might not have realised how important these can be, but when presented correctly, these can demonstrate your skills and what you learned from the working environment.
Remember, it doesn’t matter whether your work experience was two weeks or two months, as long as you can highlight your key responsibilities and any transferable skills you gained. If your work experience was related to the current industry, you’re applying to, this is even better, be sure to really hammer home how this experience makes you a good fit for the role.
So, although you might not have had any full-time positions to shout about, it is very likely that you will have had one of the five types of work experience we’ve outlined above. As such, be sure to include these on your CV, outlining your transferable skills and why this experience makes you a good fit for the role.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of Job Description Library and StandOut CV, two leading UK careers advice websites. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.