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You may be wondering what to write in a CV if you have no experience in the industry you’re applying for?
This is a tricky situation for those seeking to switch industry, or recent graduates with no experience to include on their CV.
Jobseekers can find themselves in an impossible loop of being unable to secure a job because they have a CV with no experience, which in turn leaves them unable to gain experience.
This is especially true if you’re a recent graduate without an internship or work experience in your chosen field, or even a high school student looking for work. Getting your foot in the door can be very difficult.
Fear not – we’ve put together a guide to show you how to write a CV with no experience, by rearranging your CV and highlighting the relevant hard or soft skills and qualities that you do have through experiences other than work.
Firstly, there are lots of things besides work experience or internships that can qualify you for a role.
Volunteer work, community projects, academic projects and extracurricular activities are all valuable ways to gain both transferable and specific skills when you have no work experience.
Read the job description carefully to see what valuable skills and qualities the employer is looking for, and identify the parts of your work experience that match them best. Then, give these prominence on your CV.
For example, if you want to make a career change by switching industries, you might emphasise a project you undertook in a previous job that involved relevant skills.
If you’re a recent graduate, you could highlight a particular piece of relevant coursework you did, or any relevant experience from university projects or extracurricular activities.
For each example, include your target, what you did to achieve it and the result, placing emphasis on what you in particular did to make it a success. These examples will look great on you CV, even with no experience in the industry.
When it comes to laying out a CV with no experience, don’t feel you have to stick to the traditional chronological work experience format – which can sometimes highlight that you lack or have no experience.
In this case, using a ‘functional CV’ might work better.
A functional CV emphasises your skills and experience rather than your work history. A personal statement will be the first thing the recruiter reads, so make it short and impactful.
This is your first chance to sell yourself in spite of the lack of experience on your CV.
After your personal statement, you’ll have a section for your achievements and a section about skills or abilities.
This means you can include any skills you’ve gained from general experiences, helping you to switch the focus of your CV onto transferable skills.
You should still list your work history (if any) and qualifications towards the end of the CV, but these won’t have prominence. It also means if you have relevant voluntary or project work, you can put it before less relevant paid work.
Remember, you want to draw the hiring manager’s attention to the things that make you right for the job – and that means putting them up front and center where they’ll be noticed.
It’s easy enough to say you’re a hard worker or a good team player – but this won’t mean much if you don’t include supporting details to back up your claims.
You need to demonstrate desirable personality traits to your potential employer with examples, which can be a challenge when you write a CV for a job with no experience.
Think back to anything you’ve done that could prepare you for the job application.
Perhaps you’ve organised a community project or helped at an event. This could be a good way to illustrate that you’re resourceful, well-organised or good at working with other people.
If you’ve done any volunteering, you could use it as a way to demonstrate your passion for a particular sector or subject.
Any extra-curricular activities, training or courses you’ve taken or projects you’ve started from scratch could demonstrate enthusiasm and drive.
Wherever possible, use numbers to demonstrate your achievements – for example, the amount of time saved thanks to your innovation, or percentage increase in sales.
You might be tempted to compensate for having no relevant experience by bulking out your CV with irrelevant detail and long paragraphs, but our advice is – don’t!
Hiring managers will see right through this and are likely to be turned off by large chunks of text and lots of overinflated points.
Instead, keep things as concise as possible. Highlight important details with short, snappy bullet points – the aim is to make key information as easy to find as possible.
Use keywords throughout your CV when describing your work experience, skills and qualifications. Refer to the job description to see what keywords the employer is looking for i.e. ‘project management’, ‘team leadership’, or ‘attention to detail’.
A great CV with no experience works best when coupled with a solid cover letter.
Your cover letter will be particularly important if you don’t have relevant work experience, as it gives you a chance to expand on how your skills from other life experiences can transfer to the job.
Point out your most relevant skills and attributes and explain how they’ll translate into success in the role.
Be specific and include concrete examples and details – really spell out what makes you right for the job.
Breaking into a field can be difficult, but if you know how to make a good CV with no work experience in that industry you’ll be much more likely to get an interview.
Even better, why not take the hassle out of it and let us write one for you? Our bespoke, professionally-written CVs show you at your very best – find out more here.