Creating a CV can be an extremely daunting task, even for those with lots of qualifications and ample relevant experience. Imagine then, the conundrum faced by those who find themselves in need of a job, never having worked before let alone created a CV. If you are one of these folks, staring in horror at the empty expanse of a blank page wondering “how on earth will I ever fill this?” hopefully some of these simple tips for handling your first CV will come in handy.
Contextualise your situation
One of the key things to bear in mind when creating your first CV is that we have all been there. It can be very easy to become disheartened by the feeling that your CV, and the lack of professional experience noted in it, is not presenting a realistic view of your knowledge and skills.
Remember always that no one was born with a lengthy list of professional experience and even the most qualified person was once in the same position as you. Being at the bottom of the ladder is not an ideal situation but it’s an essential rite of passage and with a little creativity and plenty of determination, it won’t be long before you are well on your way to the top!
So what do we mean by this? Having been in this exact situation in our youth, we understand that the temptation is there to fill the blank space on the page by any means necessary…but, as we have learned, this is a dangerous strategy. Despite the fact that you may have very little relevant work experience to include you should avoid at all costs the temptation to (as the kids say) “blag it”.
Yes, the case may be that you need to use a certain level of creative license in order to best illustrate the relevant skills that you have, however there is a limit as to how far this can be stretched. As a general rule, if it feels as though you are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, then you probably are (and what’s more it will be obvious to a recruiter that this is the case).
Focus on your Skills
Although you might be severely lacking in professional experience, we reckon you would be surprised by the number and level of skills that you have already obtained through education and voluntary experience which can be transferred into the workplace. Identifying where in your past past you have demonstrated these skills will be slightly trickier than if you were citing work experience however, if done correctly it will demonstrate to an employer your adaptability and potential within the workplace.
Begin by working through the essential and desired criteria from the job specification one by one and deciding a) whether or not this is a skill that you may justly claim and b) what circumstances from your past will best illustrate your possession of this skill.
Perhaps owing to the fact that it is usually positioned at the end of the document, people of all ages and experience seem to have a somewhat blasé approach to this section of the CV. More often than not it is viewed as something of an afterthought, something that is necessary but actually of zero interest to the person reading the CV…this can prove a costly error.
In lieu of any solid work experience the ‘Hobbies and interests’ section of your CV is a much needed opportunity to give the recruiter a sense of who you are (beyond your education and other obligations). Things like ‘football, tennis and reading’ are all well and good but they actually tell the recruiter very little about you (and you can bet that at least 50% of the other applicants will also have listed these).
Try to think of a hobby or interest which you have that could be considered unusual – this will increase the chances that your CV will be particularly memorable amongst all the others listing the usual mundane ‘stock’ hobbies’.
Also try to think of some hobbies that demonstrate an engagement with the activities associated with the role you are applying for which show an interest beyond your academic studies and will help to present you as a person with a genuine desire to pursue the role.
For more information on choosing the best hobbies and interests for your CV take a look at this recent post.
As a general rule we tend to advise that the question of whether or not to include a personal statement within your CV should be considered on a role to role basis. In the case of your first CV however we strongly recommend that you include one. The reason for this is that within your first CV it will probably be difficult for an employer to identify a career direction and thus they may be more likely to question how much you actually want the job,
For each and every role you must emphatically state the job which you are hoping to secure and how you expect this will sit within the context of your career plan. You must also briefly state what you feel you could bring to the role and indicate those skills you hold which you feel will be most beneficial to your employer. (Click here for more information on writting a personal statement. http://www.theemployable.com/index.php/2014/03/19/include-personal-statement-cv/ )
Hopefully you have found these basic tips useful, check out some of these recent posts about creating your CV.