Improving a CV With Little or no Work Experience

 After graduation, many job seekers will start sending out numerous CV’s in search of jobs. A few lucky ones will get called for interviews and perhaps get job offers right away. For most however, the job hunting market is a tough one and will take resilience and patience. One of the biggest challenges for new graduates is lack of experience. How do you apply for a job that requires 5 years’ experience yet you just got out of college?  There are several useful things one can do to make their CV more attractive to a potential employer. It is advisable to start thinking of your CV and how you can make it attractive as soon as you join college or university

Internship experience

Many university level degrees require internships/ attachments to be completed as part of the degree before graduation. Some degrees do not have this requirement.  An internship is a hidden gem that every college student should invest in as it will give your CV a much needed boost when job hunting.  Assuming that you will get an internship within your field of interest, it is advisable to gain as much experience as possible within the internship period as this would come in handy when you finally sit down to write a CV.  Most internships will last for 3 months and in some cases might be extended to six months. If time allows it would be advisable to extend the internship to six months as this will give you more experience.

When it comes to writing a CV then, under experience be sure to include the internship by clearly stating the department you worked under or project you worked on but most importantly how that relates to the position you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a project assistant position in a humanitarian organization, indicate how you interned in a project with ten other employees, what your role was using active verbs such as ‘visited and interviewed slum residents on the challenges they face in accessing water and compiled data and results which my group presented to a panel of donors” . Having such practical experience that is directly related to the job at hand can be a powerful factor in pushing your CV to the next stage of consideration.

Volunteer work

Volunteer work can be a valuable addition in a CV that is thin on the experience front. Any form of volunteer work would probably suffice but it would be more valuable to volunteer for a job/ project that is relevant or related to your career of choice. For instance, if you are a trained teacher looking for work you could volunteer at a school say in the slums or other underprivileged areas. If you are looking to work in a humanitarian organization such as branches of the UN you could volunteer at a grassroots human rights organization which might be understaffed etc. if you are looking for work in the IT field you can volunteer to manage social network pages, run a blog, tweak the web page etc.

Personal Projects

Undertaking a personal project is useful as it not only demonstrates passion but shows a potential employer that you take initiative and are self-driven. While sometimes it may not be directly related to the job at hand, if you can demonstrate that the skills acquired are useful in your new job then this will give you a much needed boost. For instance, if you are interested in being a journalist, having a blog where you write/ report on current affairs demonstrates ability and passion for the job. A personal project could also be in form of a business. If you are looking to join the sales department of a big firm, demonstrating how you bought goods on wholesale and sold to your colleagues/ family/ neighborhood at a profit would be a big plus.

Other activities that you can list on your CV to demonstrate your skills include part time work, extra-curricular activities such as sports and continuing education such as taking a course that will give you added skills for a certain job.

In writing a CV and especially for fresh graduates, any skills that you have acquired in any of the above ways will be useful when applying for a job. Regardless of what the experience is, the most important thing is to clearly demonstrate to the potential employer the skill that you have, and how you can apply it in the position you are applying for.



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