Writing CVs with no work history or experience

Writing CVs with no work history or experience

It’s hard enough writing a CV with loads of gaps but imagine trying to write a CV without any work history. In theory, it sounds impossible but when you think about it, it’s not hard as it seems. If you are a young jobseeker, putting together your first CV, think of all the things that you have done outside School, College and University. Remember, companies receive hundreds of CVs, so yours needs to show more than just your academic achievements. Try to jot down a few transferable skills/abilities/experiences gained from non-employed situations i.e. work placement or voluntary work.

Transferable skills & abilities

As a jobseeker you have lots of transferable skills and abilities but trying to narrow them down to a relevant few can sometimes be mission impossible. However, it may help to go through the things you have done at School, College or University to help identify them.

  • What are your IT skills like? Do you have good typing skills? Did you use any Microsoft Office packages i.e. Word/Excel/Power point to do a project, a piece of research or your dissertation? Are you a social media person? Are you aware of different search engines and how to use them effectively!

  • Did you belong to any after school clubs/societies i.e. Math’s club/Computer club/Book club? Where you a student rep at university, a prefect or mentor at school? What were your responsibilities and main achievements and what did you bring to each role?

  • Did you represent the school in any sports i.e. football, Cricket, Basketball? What was your role in each sports team and did you have any special responsibilities i.e. maybe you were a captain or vice-captain?

  • What are your hobbies and interests and what do they say about you as a person. For example, are you a keen traveller, chess enthusiast or fitness freak? What does each of your hobbies say about you?

Volunteer work

Employers are always keen to employ people who have qualities such as determination, integrity, communication, compassion, responsibility and problem solving. One of the best ways to acquire and nurture these skills is through voluntary work. Volunteering can be a great way to gain experience, particularly if you have recently left School, College or University. Ask yourself these questions;

  • What skills did you learn from your voluntary role?

  • Did you work in a team or on your own?

  • Did the role enhance your communication skills/organizational skills?

Volunteering is not about working in a charity shop or small office for a few hours a day and not being paid. It’s about gaining experience and developing important skills that you probably wouldn’t be able to acquire through other means. Look at the example below;

Voluntary Placement: On weekends I work as volunteer mentor for a local charity who deals with adults with moderate learning difficulties.

Duties: Organising activities & social trips, accompany clients to various day trips and visits i.e. trips to the cinema and museum.

Skills: The opportunity has allowed me to develop my communication and organisational skills. I have also enhanced my problem solving and social skills.

The example above shows the importance of voluntary work and how it can be used to develop various skills and personal qualities. By undertaking a voluntary work placement, it will not only provide you with an opportunity to add skills and experience to your CV, but it will also allow you to meet new friends, gain experience in areas you would not have normally worked and demonstrates to a future employer that you are willing to fully dedicate yourself to a role.

Remember, it’s not a crime to have little or no work experience, especially if you have just left School, College or University. The hard task lies in transforming this lack of experience into something positive on your CV. As I mentioned before, employers receive hundreds of CV’s for various advertised positions. It is therefore your responsibility to convince them that you are the right person for the job despite the fact that you don’t have any experience. You can compensate for your lack of work experience by highlighting keys skills and personal attributes that you have developed through a voluntary position. This may have been at School, College or University. The key thing is you make the most of any voluntary experience you have.

Work Experience

Even if the role that you are applying for is different from what you did at School, College or University, make sure you put it down. Your work experience at school might have been boring, tedious and may have only lasted a couple of weeks; the key point is what did you learn from it? Maybe, there was a time when you showed initiative in a task, helped another person or even developed a new idea which saved the company time and money. These are important skills and abilities that will definitely make you marketable to a potential employer. Ask yourself; was your time keeping and attendance adequate? Did you demonstrate good customer service skills? Where you committed to your role and did you show compassion when dealing with the public?

Consider the job advertisement below;

“Are you looking for a fun, exciting and rewarding career? Are you interested in a career working with young people in a range of youth centres, clubs or projects? An exciting opportunity exists with Crofton Youth Service. Experience not essential but you need to be confident, dynamic and a good communicator with both adults and young people; If you have bags of energy and able to motivate and inspire others, please send a CV & Cover letter highlighting your key skills and qualities”

Okay, so you do not have the experience or work history for the above position, but if you can illustrate and prove that you have the skills and personal qualities gained and learned from your life experience, then employers will definitely recognise and want you.

Employers often know exactly who they want to hire for a particular position but sometimes they will consider people who have special qualities but no experience. Even though this is rare, those employers who are flexible might be persuaded to take on someone young who is eager to learn, is dedicated, and possesses certain qualities that perhaps a more experienced person doesn’t. If this is shown to be true then you need to write your CV in such a way that it clearly depicts your strengths and values, skills and life experiences even though you don’t have a long and extensive work history.

Below is a list of non-work related experiences that can be used to write a CV with no work history;

  • Charity work
  • Hobbies and Interests
  • Holidays and travel
  • Outdoor pursuits
  • School/College/University projects and responsibilities
  • Sports & fitness
  • Teaching and helping people in the community
  • Caring for people
  • Languages