How To Write a CV With No Work Experience (With Tips and Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Applying for your first job when you're still in school or just finishing your degree program means you may not have a lot of experience to share on your CV. Instead, it's important to show employers that you have the skills and drive to start working as a professional. By focusing on your extracurricular activities, responsibilities and educational training, you can build a CV that attracts potential employers. In this article, we explain how to write a CV with no work experience and include helpful tips and an example you can use to create your own.

Related: CV Examples for Students (With Template)

How to write a CV with no work experience

When you create a CV without prior job experience, there are ways you can still show employers that you have the skills necessary to succeed in a position within their organisation. Focusing on academic training and personal activities helps you prove your abilities and shows that you've developed important professional skills. The following steps help explain how to write a CV with no work experience:

1. Start with a summary or profile

A CV profile helps you introduce yourself to potential employers while summarising your strengths. Create a statement in three or four lines that identifies your key traits and skills, provides brief descriptions of relevant experience and names the position you hope to achieve. This is a way to show employers you're confident in your abilities, whether you have relevant work experience or are just beginning your career. Align your personal profile closely with the job expectations and qualifications listed in the job posting.

Read more: How To Write a CV Profile

2. Highlight your education

Include your most recent educational history first by naming the institution, the programme you pursued and dates you attended. Show your educational experience by describing coursework that relates to a potential job. Include academic honours, internships or apprenticeships with descriptions of the responsibilities and skills you developed. If you are anticipating graduation, write "pending," then add the date you plan to complete your studies.

3. Include extracurricular activities

One of the main ways to fill your CV when you don't have any previous job experience is to use activities like school clubs, sports and volunteerism to prove your qualifications. Treat each extracurricular activity like a job by describing what you did to perform each role, the dates you participated in each activity and key skills used. Focus on relevant examples that prove you've learned the necessary abilities for the job you're pursuing.

Read more: How To Highlight Extracurricular Activities in a CV

4. Note any side jobs

Finally, include any side jobs you performed including gigs like babysitting or yard care. Use these instances to highlight soft skills like customer service and communication. Focus on describing these experiences with language that emphasises your professional abilities. Additional items like this can help employers see that you are responsible and able to complete tasks in a job situation.

5. List your skills

Determine your top abilities and include a brief list as part of your CV. Match your skills with those noted by employers in a job description. Echo these skills throughout your CV as you describe extracurricular activities, educational experience and other relevant details. Note any hard skills, such as technology-related abilities or foreign language proficiency.

6. Add awards, leadership and publications

Aside from your educational achievements, include a section that details your accomplishments to show potential employers how you've been recognised for outstanding work. This includes distinctions like club and volunteerism awards, perfect attendance records and outstanding service recognition. This section can also include any leadership positions you've held or the titles of published works. Include the dates of each award or honour and describe the recognition if necessary.

10 tips for writing a CV with no work experience

Here are some ideas to help you write your CV with no prior job experience:

1. Include keywords from the job description

When applying for a position, read the job description posted by the employer to determine how your qualifications match the prospective role. Many employers use a software tool called an applicant tracking system to screen CVs for keywords. If you include these words throughout your document, employers are more likely to view your document. It's important to use these words naturally throughout your descriptions and skill lists.

2. Focus on key responsibilities

When you describe your experience from extracurricular activities, highlight how you developed professional skills by stating your responsibilities. For example, if you volunteered at an animal shelter, describe how you managed the cleaning of all cat cages and assisted guests in meeting with their chosen animal. When you take the time to explain these experiences like a job, you can help employers see your potential as an employee.

3. Highlight skills that transfer to any job

Transferable skills are important to include on a CV when you have no work experience. Employers may find that hard skills related to the job can be taught in the workplace. However, soft skills like communication and time management can be harder to teach. Showing that you are developing these core traits may help you appear more ready to take on a position as someone new to the workforce.

Read more: 10 Best Skills To Include on a CV

4. Use a cover letter to highlight your talents

Compliment your CV with a cover letter that explains to employers that you are ready to build your knowledge and abilities with this position. Focus on the fact that you are eager to learn and work hard. Connect your relevant skills and training to the potential position using the same keywords from the job description.

5. Keep your CV brief

When giving details about your education and extracurricular activities, limit your descriptions to three bullet points, each using a short phrase or single sentence. With limited experience, keep the focus on your skills and educational background.

6. Talk about your goals

Use your CV and cover letter to share your career goals with potential employers. Include this information in your profile by stating an objective related to the position and if relevant, future career prospects. Use similar language in your cover letter to show employers that you're committed to growing your professional expertise.

7. Adapt your CV to the job

When applying for a job, It's a good idea to create a custom CV. Each position requires specific qualifications with distinct keywords. An applicant tracking system can often detect CVs that don't match the specialised language of a particular job posting. Take the time to change the language and examples to fit the job opening you apply for each time you send your CV to a prospective employer.

8. Connect relevant training

Include any additional training from life experience or academic programmes on your CV. For example, you can help employers see how a summer internship as a camp counsellor gave you the leadership skills and confidence necessary to take on a role in their organisation. Emphasise how certain coursework gave you the ability to succeed as a new employee.

9. Make it unique

Your CV is a way to show your personality to potential employers. Choose words that show your unique talents and character. The examples you use to highlight your qualities also give employers an idea of who you are. If you can convey your dedication and excitement to apply your skills to a job and begin a career, employers may value that enthusiasm and remember you as they consider candidates.

10. Work with a mentor

Consider finding a career mentor who can help you prepare your CV. They can assess your abilities and identify the top qualities and examples to include in your document. A mentor can coach you through your initial job search as you apply for jobs without previous work experience. Ask them to proofread your CV for content and to find any grammatical errors.

Example of a CV for your first job

Here's a sample CV for a student with no work experience:

Kai Chan
9876 9876
100 Heung Wo Street,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
k.chan@email.com

Personal profile
Hardworking software engineering graduate with 3.9 GPA ready to start a career as a developer at a technological corporation. Student technology society president with work published in student journals. Volunteer leadership experience in student clubs and community services. Skilled in programming and software development.

Education

BS in Software Engineering, University of Hong Kong
2018-2021, Hong Kong

  • Software development theory

  • User experience design

  • Student engineering symposium

Experience

President, Student Technology Society, 2019-2021

  • Organised technology student career fair

  • Led virtual team leader and general meetings

  • Facilitated student programming bootcamp

Volunteer team leader, Pet Rescue Centre, 2018-2019

  • Contacted and set up sponsors for adoption festival

  • Worked with a team of volunteers to clean and refurbish interior shelter structures

  • Managed guest visits and interactions with shelter animals

Skills

  • Programming

  • Software development

  • Time management

  • Communication

  • Marketing

  • Writing and editing

Awards

  • Featured writer: Student Software Journal, April 2020

  • Technology Honours Society Golden Key Award, 2019

  • Featured writer: College Tech Journal, September 2019


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