Here’s the good news for students or graduates who need to put together a CV with absolutely no work history: the candidate with the most experience isn’t always the candidate who gets the job. This is because recruiters are often looking for more than just experience. If you can make a great case with your CV about why you’re a perfect fit for their position, even without a career history, then you stand as much chance as someone who has some experience. To help you get started here is our easy guide on how to create a compelling CV for your first job application.
Step 1: Tailor your info for each application
Always customise your CV for each job position that you apply for and ensure that you’re hitting the right notes to be relevant. Different companies are going to have different keywords, duties listed and so on. Appealing to each individual employer’s needs and job requirements is the best strategy for getting your CV noticed and shortlisted for an interview.
Step 2: Use a hybrid format CV template
There are a few format styles that you can choose for a CV template, but it’s best that you use a hybrid format and focus on your skills and education. This makes it easier when you don’t have any work experience to show yet. For example, do you have a driver’s license? Can you use a range of software packages? Are you social-media savvy?
Step 3: Start with a customised cover letter
This needs to sum up who you are as a candidate and what you hope to achieve professionally with their company in a sentence or two. This serves as the first impression you give a hiring manager or recruiter in order to entice them to keep reading. You should tailor this to be personalised to each job position you apply for with your CV.
Step 4: Lead with your academic history
Without work experience, it’s best to expand and focus on your education and the skills that you’ve developed on your CV. Relate your qualification and fields of interest right back to what you can do well that this job would require. Try to highlight what will be useful to the hiring company and how what you’ve studied has prepared you for a role like theirs.
Step 5: Include any internship participations
Paid and unpaid internships are one of the best responses that you can have against “experience required”. They provide some real-world work experience and allow you to make connections that can fuel your professional network later on. Be sure to list any possible internships you may have completed. Try to add context on why this is relevant to the job position being considered.
Step 6: Include any volunteering & hobbies
Volunteer work is a wonderful way to highlight your talents and dedication even if it’s not directly related to the job role. It’s the same with hobbies. List them and if they aren’t necessarily relevant to the position, include some reasoning on how they’ve equipped you with transferable skills that would be useful for the position.
Step 7: Remember to add personality
Competed in a triathlon recently? Won an award worth noting? Skydived? Put it on your CV as a closing note to provide an extra bit of information about you as a person. Employers receive many applications for each of their job roles. Standing out from the crowd and being memorable goes a long way towards getting called in for that interview.