Saturday, 3 May 2014

I don't have much work experience to put on my CV. What do I do?

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Don't let a lack of work experience put you off from applying for that job you've been so longing for!

Make the most of your skills or qualification, and use the knowledge that you have gained from courses that you have followed to your advantage.

MUOVO would like to share with you the following tips, which have been adapted from TheGuardian. Let us know what you think!

1. Identify what qualifies you for the role.

Who said that the only valuable experience is that which is paid? Voluntary or community involvement, work placements, coursework, personal projects and extracurricular activities can all be highlighted to show your suitability. Think from the employer's perspective – decide on the most interesting factors, where you have used relevant skills, and then make these prominent on your CV.

2. Make yourself irresistible to an employer.

A CV doesn't really manage to convey your key and desirable personality traits. Stating that you're a hard-working, enthusiastic and highly motivated worker is likely going to raise much eyebrows. A lot of other CVs have these skills listed as well.

What you can do differently, however, is using examples to highlight your skills.

Holding down a job to help family finances or pay your way through college can reveal humility and a strong work ethic: "Consistent work record: held variety of part-time roles since the age of 16 to contribute to educational costs."

Learning about a role or sector through online communities, upskilling through tutorials or conducting your own projects all show enthusiasm – it could fit into the education, training or skills section of your CV.

Graduate employers like applicants who can demonstrate these personality traits, as well as attributes such as numeracy and commercial awareness, which you could show through retail, marketing or sales work.

3. Speak the same language.

This is especially the case for career changers, but all applicants should aim to use language that an employer would expect to see from an ideal candidate. Include keywords throughout your CV, in job titles, skills, and in how you describe your work experience. In this example, the course modules (international finance, risk management, and so on) are keywords in their own right, and are included in the skills section, titled "specialised knowledge".

4. Experiment with layout.

You don't need to always use a strict chronological work history format or have the same section order. Put the most important information first – relevant project work can come before less relevant employment, while voluntary projects bridging your move into a new career could come before current, paid work.

Remember to keep your CV short: 2 to 3 pages maximum. Consider putting a summary of stand-out points at the beginning of your CV. Put your name and contact details at the top of the page, then use the job title itself as a heading. Under this, summarise key details such as years' experience in a particular skill, project experience or summer placements at that company, or a short branding statement highlighting your strengths and attributes. A couple of lines in note or bullet-point format (rather than entire sentences) can work well. Include a brief cover letter explaining your reasons for applying, and interest in the company.

And as it goes: 'Where there's a will, there's a way'!

Good luck!

Nikita Pisani at Muovo

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