Know how to write a CV when you don’t have work experience
By Selipha Kihagi
A while back we posted a sample CV for fresh graduates and the one question that most readers asked was how to write a CV when you don’t have experience. First and foremost, if you are a fresh graduate then it means that you don’t have any working experience aside from any internships or part time roles you may have had during your campus days.
So, the sample CV posted here should be a good aid on what to include on your CV when you don’t have experience. All you have to do is use the CV template and edit yours according to the profession you are in.
But if you are still fixated on knowing how to write a CV when you don’t have work experience, this post will help in outlining exactly that. Use these tips to come up with a great CV that will get you your first job. And for those worried about not getting hired because they do not have work experience, this post will help you discover how to go around that.
How to Write a CV when you don’t have work experience
When you start drafting your CV, you may feel the pressure to make sure you end up with a 2 page length document. Most people will increase the font size and spaces in between, use different fonts for subheadings and sometimes even include unnecessary information like Nationality, Religion, Languages spoken, marital status and others so it fits out the pages. I know this because I was once a victim.
When you focus too much on why your CV does not stretch out to two pages, you forget about highlighting what employers and recruiters are looking for. This then begins the journey to a frustrating job search and you keep wondering why that is so. To avoid this, forget about length for a minute and think more about your education, skills and the knowledge of your industry.
It is not a must that as a fresh graduate or when you don’t have experience that your CV makes it to two pages. After all, sometimes even people with a work experience of 5 years and above are asked to submit a 2 page document. How do you think they shrink all those duties and responsibilities to two pages? It’s all about including only the most important information – what recruiters are looking for in your CV.
So, here is how to write a CV if you do not have work experience;
1. Have a great summary
Since you do not have any work experience to show employers, you need to demonstrate who you are in a short paragraph. This is the section just below your name and contact information, which some people write as Career objective. Show your creativity by avoiding the generic summary saying how hardworking you are, and instead, let recruiters see that you want that particular role by highlighting your skills and why you are best fitted for that role.
2. Maximize on your Education
As a fresh graduate, the most important qualifications you have to your name are your education level. That degree, diploma or certifications that you possess are what employers want to see so they can consider you for entry level jobs in their organization. So, make sure it is clear on your CV by highlighting the degree and not necessarily the school; this means you don’t need to put the school you went to in bold. What if the recruiter or employer doesn’t like the school?
Also, don’t include “second class lower” grade if the job description was not specific. Why? Most employers want a second class upper and above so you including that may be grounds to miss out on the interview.
3. Include Internship experience (industrial attachment)
Every graduate is supposed to have at least 3 months internship experience to their name, and this is what most schools call industrial attachment. It is usually compulsory so if you say you do not have any experience, even for internship, you are already raising a red flag to potential recruiters. The one question they will ask is; did you lie about going for industrial attachment so you can graduate?
Remember that employers and recruiters also passed through campus as you did and so they know what lies students are capable of. Don’t let them doubt your reliability before even meeting you. Make sure that you include those responsibilities, even if you were made to run errands instead of doing actual work. And if you have worked in part time roles, also remember to list those roles here.
4. Only include relevant Skills
The skills you possess in relation to the position at hand are very key when your suitability is being considered for a job. Recruiters and employers want to know what you have to offer beyond the responsibilities and duties that you were tasked with, yet most fresh graduates tend to forget to include a skills and competencies section on the CV.
When CV writing, the skills you include do not have to be from your work experience; it can be something relevant that you picked up along the way. For example, if you were a class rep, that means you possess leadership skills. If you were always an MC during functions, you are probably good at public speaking. Find out an important skill and list it.
How to write a CV when you do not have experience is no rocket science; it is the same as when you have experience, only that the information you include is less. More importantly, remember to be brief and never exaggerate anything on your CV.
Got a query about your CV? Let us hear it below.