Writing a CV as a student or a fresh-out-of-uni graduate can be a tall order. So what are you supposed to do?
The following 5 steps are a good start.
1. Write down all your life experiences and pick out anything relevant.
Think about everything you've done so far, you'll be surprised at how much there is you can include in your CV. Think back to what you did at school, college and university; in your free time; odd jobs to earn money - anything that points to you being pro-active.
Some examples may include:
● Sports - competitive or social, after class climbing club, horseriding at the weekend, lifeguarding - anything goes. Studies show that students who participated in sports are more likely to find a job after university, so it’s clearly something employers like to see.
● Volunteering - charity work, teaching, child care, fundraising.
● Part time work - pubs, bars, schools, working with your parents, working with the uni - if you got paid or not, it's all worth putting in. It’s better than having an empty CV.
● Internships/placements/personal - this can range from shadowing a parent's friend to doing a week in an office. Done any freelance writing? Blogging? Vlogging? Include that.
2. Focus on your skills.
Skills-based CVs are the best option for someone without much experience. List all your skills and elaborate on each one; mention how you gained your skills, where you’ve used them and how you can use them in future positions.
If you’re applying for one specific role, take a look at the skills required for it and choose 3 or 4 experiences in which you have demonstrated those skills.
For instance, if an employer is looking for someone with leadership skills then you need to demonstrate your ability to lead. It's common sense, yes, but it's also pretty important. It might help to follow this motto: Point, Example, Explain - ring any bells?
You need to make it as easy as possible for a recruiter to identify what they are looking for.
3. Don’t overcompensate.
When you’re lacking direct work experience it can be tempting to try and pad out your CV with long, rambling paragraphs, unfounded claims and excessive detail. Don't do this.
Keep your CV to two pages at the most and keep it relevant.
Equally, don’t try to pad out your experience by mentioning things you did years ago (let's say 3-4 years). It'll seem like you're clutching at straws - which you will be.
4. Highlight your achievements.
Anything that shows how you were once thrown in at the deep end (and managed to swim) will go down a treat. If you’re lacking work experience an employer will want to know that you are a fast learner.
Perhaps you interned somewhere and were given greater responsibility after just a couple of weeks. Maybe you trained up another member of staff after a few months in a part time job? Or maybe you’ve won a few awards or gained a few qualifications along the way – it’s all good.
5. Use a cover letter at every opportunity.
Your covering letter provides the ideal platform to showcase your enthusiasm for the role and company at hand, so make the most of it.
Do a lot of research on the company you are applying to. The more research you have done, the keener you'll seem, which will compensate for your lack of experience. Some employers will put time into reading your cover letter than they will your CV, so don’t miss this opportunity to stand out.