How to write a first CV (without experience)

26 September 2018 | Careers Advice | Guest Author

Getting your first job is exciting, but that excitement comes with a dread of putting your first CV together. I know the pain that comes along with staring at that blank piece of paper - trust me, I’ve only recently gotten through it. Having never worked in the professional field I had no idea how to make an impact with my CV. Below, I’ve put together a guide on how you can make an impact without professional experience. 

Making an impact

  1. Personal Information
    At the top of your CV, include your mobile phone number, email address, and your location. Remember to keep your email account professional. Avoid using emails with creative names like “”. Keep it simple. “”. Next, include a personal statement that describes who you are and the type of work you do best.
  2. Experience
    Experience doesn’t only mean your previous jobs. You can include any volunteering experience and extracurricular activities that show your ability to perform outside of academia. It also shows your motivation and attitude. This can be your student clubs and societies, sports experience, working with charities and more. Importantly, mention things you did in those roles and how they developed your skills. When writing each bullet, use the formula from Laszlo Bock (former VP of People and Operation at Google: Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z].
  3. Most Proud Of
    Your Most Proud Of Section gives insight into who you are as a person. It can be used to highlight some of your projects and personal achievements. This will help the potential employer understand how you fit in the company’s culture and the team.
  4. Certifications
    Certifications show you’re willing to dedicate time to learning new skills. Being certified in First-Aid, Manual Lifting, Microsoft Excel and more are great to include on a CV as they show you’re proactive in your work.
  5. References
    References are incredibly impactful. Having an appropriate reference on your CV will impress the employer and entice them to learn more about you. Ask your teachers, guidance counsellors, coaches, and so on. Avoid putting family members down as references and make sure to include at least two.

Other tips - read the job description

The job description will help focus your resume on the things the recruiter is looking for. For example, if the job description mentions bilingualism, you’ll know to include your French A-Level. Your CV should essentially be the answer booklet to the job description.

Not everything in the job description needs to be satisfied, however. Your job is to try meet as many expectations as possible. If it mentions “experience with customers” this doesn’t have to be direct experience working in customer service. It can be selling tickets for your secondary school play.

Writing your first CV

Overall, the challenge with writing your first CV isn’t having no experience, it’s how you package the experience you do have - because you do have it. It’s easy to make an impact as long as you keep the recruiter’s perspective in mind and use what you already have to impress them.

For more inspiration, check the first job CV sample below.


About the Author:Dean O'Reilly is a Psychology student with a keen interest in LGBTQ+ activism and social change. Currently exploring the world of Marketing with a focus on content creation and marketing distribution at Enhancv. Can usually be found anywhere there is drag, a protest, and/or the opportunity to sleep.

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