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How to maximise your CV with experience at the start of your career

By on 29.03.16 in Finding a job

How to maximise your CV with experience at the start of your career 

Faced with a blank page and the lack of experience that comes at the beginning of your working life, it can be incredibly hard to write a CV that is compelling, but it really shouldn't put you off having a go. Starting out on your career path can be daunting - especially if you are a recent graduate - but it is equally so for those who have pursued one career but want a complete change later in life. 

Don't let your lack of experience stop you from applying for the job you want - it is understandable that your experience might be limited. This lack of experience is a common issue for people entering the workforce or changing career, so you need to approach writing your CV in a slightly different manner. We've put together some top tips to help you make your resume more exciting even if you are just starting out. 

Getting started - your summary

Make sure your summary section is at the beginning of your CV. Usually; it is made up of two to three sentences that describe you and what you can do for an employer. You should treat it as your 'elevator pitch'. However, since you are lacking in experience this is where you will want to highlight your skills and education. Don't start listing your grades and where you were educated though, that comes later. 

You could say something like: Recent graduate with a BA in Marketing. Excellent communication skills both written and verbal, ability to juggle various projects, good presentation and pitching skills and consistently meet deadlines. 

Which skills should I include in my summary?

If you read the above example again, you will see that there are several skills listed - but knowing which to include depends on the job you are applying for. Study the job spec or ad in the skills section, you will see what is required, so make sure you include these in your summary - but don't fib - if you are scared stiff of pitching to a panel, don't write that this is one of your strengths, you will get found out soon enough! 

Ideally, you should gather a few examples of job ads in the industry you are looking to break into and make a list of the common skills that appear across the board.

Remember too, that HR and recruitment consultants will scan the summary for these 'key words' - if they're not there, chances are, you won't be contacted. 

What shall I put in the experience section if I have no experience?

For new job seekers, this is probably THE most challenging section. It is a very fine balance - you don't want it to be as blank as a white wall, nor do you want it filled with every summer job you've ever had - a marketing director isn't interested in your ability to serve breakfasts in a café because it's not relevant to the position you're applying for. However, if you have had any related work experience, now's the time to flaunt it. 

According to most CV experts, the best approach for candidates lacking in experience, is to again focus on the skills you do have. Reference the job description or re-emphasise the same skills you mentioned in your summary. Then, group your experience under these skills heading. For example: 

Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal

As a member of the student union committee, I undertook all the marketing for our social events. I led the committee meetings and then liaised with the designers to produce event flyers - writing the copy and publicising events on the university blog and social media. 

Work history

You won't be able to get away from the fact that employers will want to see some evidence of your work history. Because you have already described your experience, you will just need to include dates (start with the most recent), position held and company. 

Other interests

It's always nice to include some of your passions in this section - are you a member of a group or organisation? Do you do voluntary work? Are you a brilliant artist? Adding these details will give your resume colour - however, going out with friends, gaming and so on are not to be included. And again, don't lie. You may get caught out in an interview. 

Remember, if you lack experience, the secret to writing a brilliant CV is to emphasise your skills. A functional resume will help you powerfully showcase your true potential as an employee, which will be picked up on by those people reviewing your suitability for a role. But keep it real - apply for entry-level positions, where recruitment consultants and HR will be expecting this sort of resume. Obviously a functional CV isn't going to cut the mustard if you're applying for a managing director role but, if you follow our hints and tips, then you will have a CV with purpose that will see you get a foot in the door of your chosen industry.