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How to create work experience for a school leavers CV

Writing your very first CV can be an extremely daunting task. One of the most important parts is the ‘work experience’ section, and you’re probably wondering what could go here if you have never had a job.

The good news is that there are lots of things you can put down here and steps you can take to gain some work experience. You just have to be creative and willing to stay proactive.

Here are some great tips on how to create work experience for your school leavers CV…

Take advantage of school projects

A big misconception about school, college or university is that it isn’t actually ‘work’ as we see it in the traditional sense. All of the above is of course classed as being in ‘education’, however it’s important to recognise that this is still work and can be used on a CV.

A clever way to fill out the ‘work experience’ or ’employment history’ section is to call it something else. For example – ‘Educational projects’, or anything else you can come up with that will allow you to showcase your work in education. This could include presentations, assignments, dissertations, or anything else you feel could go into this section.

Try to focus on a project that relates as closely as possible to the role you are applying for. If good communication skills are required according to the job advert, then use any past presentations you conducted as evidence that you are a good public speaker and have the communication skills they require.

Don’t be afraid to show actual evidence of the great work you achieved whilst in education, whether this is a website you created (provide the link), a dissertation or assignment (provide a copy with your CV, or a link to a copy).

Work for a charity

Voluntary work is a fantastic way to create work experience for your CV, and it’s never too late to get started. There are many benefits to working either part time or even full time for a charity or local country park whilst you are searching for work – and it will look great on your CV.

You can list the tasks and responsibilities on your CV like you would for any other job, and give yourself a great chance of proving to a prospective employer that you are ready for work after leaving education.

An employer is mainly looking for someone who can demonstrate on their CV that they are ready for a working environment. Many of the soft skills required for an entry level position can be picked up and developed through school and mainly work – a voluntary position for example.

The types of soft skills an employer would look for on a school leavers CV are:

  • Communication – with customers and co-workers
  • Problem solving and taking the initiative
  • Time management
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Work ethic

All of the above can be demonstrated on a CV from school projects and voluntary or part time work. Your role as a job seeker is to highlight the relevant skills the employer has requested on the job advert, and voluntary work is a great place to gain these skills.

For further information on how voluntary work can help you and your CV, here’s a great article called – Voluntary work for work experience.

Use your hobbies and activities

As an added touch to your CV you could consider using any creative or sporty hobbies to demonstrate your soft skills further. For example, if you’re the captain of a sports team you should mention this on your CV. Why? Because it shows leadership skills and qualities, as well as communication skills.

Creative hobbies can also add value to your CV, especially if you are applying for a role that has a creative aspect to it – graphic design, make-up artist, and so on. Don’t be afraid to go into a little detail about your passions outside of work, as this can often make your CV more memorable.

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