It can be daunting writing a CV with no experience but it’s easy to forget that anyone, whatever their career stage, has had to write a CV for the first time at some point. After all, we all have to start somewhere!
The importance of a CV does not lie solely in the work experience section and instead, encompasses a variety of different factors. For example, hobbies and interests, skills, achievements. Recruiters are aware that school-leavers or graduates writing a CV for the first time will not have a long work history and will instead focus on characteristics, skills and any voluntary work or extracurricular activities.
Grabbing recruiter’s attention with different CV writing techniques and professional content is key to a strong and effective CV. The best way to make yourself a strong candidate is by keeping all information pertinent to the job specification and relating your skills and extracurricular activities to the job role.
Anyone can write a CV. Sometimes it can take practice or a few drafts, but with online editing devices such as our OnlineCV maker, you don’t have to worry about CV layout or format and instead get the chance to focus solely on your content. Use professionally designed templates and our guidance tips on each section of the CV to create a winning CV and get the career ball rolling!
This CV writing guide gives tips for writing a CV with no experience, which sections to include in the CV, as well as examples and tips for student CVs with no experience.
Tips for writing a CV with no experience
When it comes to writing a CV specifically for a job application, it’s crucial to express yourself on a linguistic scale which matches that of the job description. Reread the job listing multiple times to get an idea of the language used and the type of candidate that recruiters are looking for.
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are commonly used amongst recruiters to track down ideal candidates without searching far and wide or spending hours reading CVs. The ATS scans for keywords, phrases and language which ideal candidates use on their job application and to describe themselves.
If you see that the job description lists the ideal candidate as a hard-working and efficient account manager who can work flexibly, all the while focused, try and paint this picture using similar vocabulary to explain that you fit this category well. This means that even if you are writing a CV with no experience, you can still paint the picture of an ideal candidate, referring to your skills, abilities and knowledge.
Here are some extra tips for writing a CV without any experience:
- Keep your CV relevant to the job listing
- Write all personal details clearly and correctly
- Make sure your email address is professional
- Ensure that your CV layout is smart and well-presented
- Use a personal statement to capture the hiring manager’s attention
- Highlight your skills which would be useful for the job role
Sections to include in your first CV
Writing a CV with no experience still leaves you with plenty of other sections to include on a CV. Here are the sections of a CV which you can choose to include when writing your CV for the first time or writing a CV specifically for a job application.
The first thing you should be including in your CV is your personal details. Your full name should be clear and visible. It is often used as a title for a CV, although modern CV templates often have different designs, meaning you can find it located to the side, in boxes etc. You can use a CV builder and browse different CV templates to decide which design works best for you.
Your personal details should include:
- Full name
- Email address (a professional one!)
- Phone number
- LinkedIn handle (optional)
You can also choose to include your address or city of residence.
In other countries, it’s common to see more personal details, such as nationality, photos and age on a CV. However, in the U.K. it is not advisable to include this type of information.
A personal statement is an impacting way of presenting your CV to prospective employers. Including a personal statement in your CV immediately informs of your current status, what you are looking for and why you are an ideal candidate for the job.
Personal statements can be useful for school-leavers or graduate students who wish to start their CV with a powerful and capturing paragraph. It’s said that recruiters take less than a minute to scan CVs the first time around, so this can be an effective technique for getting shortlisted.
Recruiters will be interested in the subjects you have studied throughout your education and if you have a higher education certificate or a degree, this is the time to shine.
Student CVs often feature the education section of a CV before the work experience section. Not only due to reasons such as lack of work experience but also because listing your education first highlights your recent academic achievement i.e., diploma or degree.
If you are applying for graduate schemes or internships, employers will be intrigued as to which topics you covered in your studies and your knowledge on certain areas, so expand on modules if you feel that this could contribute to strengthening your job application.
Just because your voluntary work wasn’t paid, it doesn’t mean you haven’t experienced a type of work environment of work experience. It is perfectly acceptable to include volunteer work on your CV if you feel that it contributes well to strengthening your job application.
If you are applying for a job in retail and you volunteered in a retail charity shop for a year. This is a perfect example of work experience in a work sector pertinent to the job for which you are applying.
In the case that you have a variety of voluntary work, you can create a volunteer work section of your CV and list the different fundraising events, volunteer work and jobs that you have completed in the past.
Who says that you’re CV has no experience now?
The skills section is one of the key sections of a CV which recruiters use to determine whether you are capable of performing the necessary tasks of the job. Recruiters often look for soft skills in graduate students when employing for graduate schemes and internships, particularly for applicants with CVs with no experience or a short work history.
Use the skills section of the CV to demonstrate the things you are good at or qualities which make you an ideal candidate. Make sure you read the job listing to understand which type of candidate recruiters are looking for so that the CV that you write paints the perfect picture of the ideal candidate.
Completing a qualification such as a DofE certificate or an extracurricular qualification (such as a British sign language course) boosts your job application and highlights your eagerness or interest in learning more and expanding your knowledge.
The qualifications section of a CV shouldn’t take up as much space as other sections of a CV. It should list the qualification name, date, organisation/college/institute and a possible grade if it is a graded qualification.
Wow recruiters with original achievements and prove that you are not just any applicant; you are the right applicant. Achievements can vary from academic achievements to personal achievements.
Interview questions often include an achievement-related question, such as, “what do you think is your biggest achievement?” Including your biggest achievements on a CV gives recruiters more insight into your character and helps them to understand more about you. It’s also a talking point for the possible interview!
Hobbies and interests
This section of your CV is not for listing every single thing that interests you. Instead, you should aim to analyse your hobbies and interests and highlight any you have which link directly to the job role.
If you read the economist weekly and are applying for a finance and accounting graduate scheme, you could write that you are a weekly reader of the economist.
A graphic designer may have interests in photography or art.
A travel blogger may have interests in tourism and travelling.
How to write a CV for a job without experience and studies
If you feel that you lack work experience or that you don’t qualify academically, remember that there is more to a CV than the work experience and academic background section.
Just because you don’t have any official work experience, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to write on a CV.
It is recommendable to always write a CV specifically for a job listing. This way you can capture the recruiter’s attention by highlighting specific elements of your CV targeted towards the profile of the job listing.
If you don’t have any higher education qualifications to list on your CV, you can focus on other sections of the CV, such as skills or hobbies and interests.
CV examples for students with no experience
- Wondering how to create the perfect student CV with no experience?
- Make your degree or highest qualification the most valuable part of your CV
- List the education section above the work experience section to highlight your recently completed academic qualification
- Write a personal statement to strengthen your personal profile
- Expand on modules or knowledge acquired during your degree/diploma/academic qualification to demonstrate industry-specific knowledge
Use OnlineCV to create your CV with guidance and tips, ensuring that you make a good impression when applying for jobs and present your best you.
Last modified on 15 October 2020