If you’ve just graduated, congratulations! Those letters after your name look pretty neat, don’t they? Perhaps the only cloud on these sunny uplands is that your CV might look a little… well, empty.
After three years in higher education you have the qualifications on paper, but applying for jobs can be hard if you don’t have much hands-on experience. Don’t despair just yet. If you don’t have internships and work experience to show off, follow our top tips and you could turn that sparse CV into a real showstopper…
- Think about how you phrase things – A lack of work experience isn’t necessarily a barrier. Stress the practical elements of your course and the skills it equipped you with – even if you need to be a bit creative in how you frame them. If you did an English Literature degree, don’t say you spent three years reading novels. Those essays on Keats ‘demonstrate your self-motivation and strengthened your communication skills’, didn’t they?
- Ditch the personal statement – If you don’t have a career to summarise, say nothing. Instead of writing a personal statement, use the space to tell employers why you want this specific job. It ‘will allow you to put your skills and knowledge to good use’, for example, or it ‘will allow you to further build on your expertise in this field’. Let them know what skills you have, but make them relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- Don’t waffle – There’s nothing worse than over-compensating for a lack of experience by filling a CV with fluff. They don’t want a pile of adjectives describing how ‘hard-working, intelligent, creative, dynamic’ you are. Everyone else has written exactly the same thing.
- Sell your other achievements – If a module you took seems particularly relevant to the job you’re applying for, stress how well you did in that field. If you did voluntary work or captained a team or society at university, throw that in there too. It’s not ‘work’ as such, but it does show you have leadership skills and some get up and go.
- Make it keyword–friendly – Most recruiters run CVs through computer software which picks up on keywords. Things like ‘social media marketing’ and ‘campaign management’ tick boxes, flowery descriptions and corporate doublespeak do not.
You might be applying from a standing start compared to some more experienced candidates, but that doesn’t have to count against you. As a graduate you still have valuable and relevant skills – check how much they’re worth by popping your CV in the ValueMyCV tool, then emphasise the ones which count the most.
What you lack in experience you make up for in promise – upsell your skills and knowledge and you’re on the right track.
Having trouble getting started? Check out or Graduate CV Template.