Can You Even Write A CV With No ‘Real’ Experience?
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Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re somewhere in your mid-teens, and chances are, you might want a job, but feel like you don’t really have any ‘real experience’ yet to slap on a CV to secure a role. And while that may be true, it doesn’t mean you can’t build a CV that’s worth shouting about and sending out. But what does said CV look like, and what should you include?
The good thing is, CV’s are about more than just previous work. It’s an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to a potential workplace and put who you are, what you’re interested in, and the skills you do have down on paper.
Below you can see an example of a teenager’s CV from cvgenius.com. We’ll go into each section in a bit more detail, but it’s important to know that the sections as they are laid out here, aren’t set in stone. If you’re a student or haven’t had any ‘professional’ work experience yet, it’s better to bring your Education section above the Experience section. Let’s go into a little detail about each section now...
This is a simple section that literally does what it says on the tin, it gives your info to your potential employer so that they can contact you if and when needed. This usually means your address, phone number and email.
This is the first chance you get to introduce yourself and highlight your top skills. Think of this section as a few sentences summarising your CV as a whole. So you’ll say who you are and what qualities you think are most important when it comes to working (“A friendly GCSE student who is organised and able to learn new things quickly.”) You’ll then add in a few more key skills and end with what you’re looking for. This is usually where you tailor it to the job at hand. So, for example, “Awarded Grand Prize at the Young People’s Science Fair in July 2022. Seeking a full time summer position at Labs Tech.” or, it could be “I enjoy working in a fast paced environment and am extremely adaptable. I am looking to learn new skills working in a restaurant.”
If you’re in an entry level position, or still a student, with little to no ‘professional’ experience, this section should come after your personal statement. This section shows potential employers your academic and vocational qualifications and lets them see if your educational background suits the job they have on offer. You’ll want to include the establishment you’ve studied at (no need for primary school here! But secondary, college and university) and the qualifications you got. With things like GCSE’s, it’s not important to write out each one individually, just summarise them as a whole, so, 10 GCSEs 9-6 etc. You may choose to write out your A-Levels individually, if they are suited to the role you’re applying for. And it’s always ordered with the most recent place you’ve attended first, so, if you’re in college, you’d put your college at the top of the list and secondary school afterwards.
The next section is where you might think you don’t have anything to put in it, but fear not! If you haven’t had any actual work experience before, you can fill out this section with voluntary roles, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and even coursework. And yes, that does mean you can include babysitting! Everything you’ve done throughout your life has given you skills that can be work related. So it’s important to get these things down on a CV, as employers will look to them as a sort of guide, figuring out if you’re suited to their workplace.
So, babysitting shows you’re responsible (and adults think so!), you’re organised, you’re creative, and you’re able to handle stress and a fast paced environment. Being on a school team shows that you work well with others. Being a captain of something shows you have good leadership qualities. Taking on extra curricular activities shows you can manage your time well and understand priorities. And volunteering shows that, well, you care about things, but also that you have a good work ethic!
Even if you haven’t been paid to do a job yet, it doesn’t mean you don’t have valuable experience that can be transferred to any role. Just hype yourself up! And, like the above section, note everything down in chronological order, with the most recent first.
It’s also important to talk about each thing you’ve done by using action verbs. Don’t be passive, but show that you took control of situations. So, if you’re talking about babysitting, you could have something like:
The Jones Family, September 2018 - Present
- Responsible for two children, aged two and five every Friday evening whilst parents were at a book club
- Ensured the children were bathed, fed and put to sleep and kept to a structured schedule
- Created innovative and educational games for the children to make sure they were having fun and learning at the same time
This shows a number of different transferable skills, and takes things you might consider ‘run of the mill’ or ‘easy’ and puts some oomph behind them!
Even though you will have written about transferable skills in the section above, this is an area to just summarise what you’re good at! It’s usually formatted in bullet points, so that your employer can scan over it and pull out any key information. Think about including computer software/programmes you can work in (so anything from Microsoft Word to Photoshop) and even social media platforms you’re a fan of, use, or understand. These days, understanding technology is pretty key to most jobs, so if you’re fluent in socials and more, that’s always a good thing! You can also note down the skills that you think are most important, such as organisational skills, any languages you speak, or time management.
Hobbies and Interests
And finally, this section is where you show a little bit more personality! Employers want to know you’re a real, fully-rounded human being (!) who has a life outside of work, so, showing that you’ve got some hobbies and interests is really important. And this can be anything from photography to windsurfing, reading comics to gardening. And, once again, you might not think so, but your hobbies also show that you have transferable skills! Like painting? That’s discipline and patience. Like doing sudoku? That’s analytics and data management. Play an instrument in a band? That’s communication, creativity and perseverance! You don’t have to write these skills down in this section, but don't think that your interests don’t mean anything!
So, you’ve got the sections down now, the next important thing to do is proofread everything…twice! There’s nothing worse than sending off a CV and only afterwards realising you’ve got spelling mistakes. So, take some time to read it through, or, even better, give it to someone else to read through for you. Then, once you’ve made any edits and tidied it up, all you have to do is send it off. Good luck!