How to sell your­self when your work ex­pe­ri­ence is lim­ited

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY NATALIE LANCER

AS IF pre­par­ing for ex­ams was not hard enough, stu­dents face the added pres­sure of scor­ing in­tern­ships be­fore they even leave school. But writ­ing up that all-im­por­tant CV and de­mon­strat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence can be tricky when you have no pre­vi­ous job posts to your name.

Most peo­ple know how to write a CV and there are many tem­plates on the in­ter­net. The is­sue is not what for­mat to use, but what to put on it, as for most young peo­ple, the list will be sparse.

There are dif­fer­ent types of CVs. The chrono­log­i­cal CV lists jobs with the most re­cent at the top, and is the for­mat most peo­ple are fa­mil­iar with. But stu­dents should avoid it, as they have not had enough (or any) jobs to list. The skills, or “func­tional”, CV is far bet­ter, as it draws at­ten­tion to stu­dents’ po­ten­tial.

Skills can be de­vel­oped in many ways, through school projects, by par­tic­i­pat­ing in ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties such as the Duke of Ed­in­burgh Award and at­tend­ing youth groups, as well as in­de­pen­dent study, volunteering, hob­bies and trav­el­ling abroad. I ad­vise stu­dents to think about what skills they have, such as com­put­ing, nu­mer­acy, team work or lead­er­ship, then list the ways they have demon­strated them. For ex­am­ple, maybe you were part of a sports team, or were team cap­tain, which shows team­work and lead­er­ship. Maybe you have writ­ten for the school news­pa­per, cre­ated web­sites or made YouTube videos, which pro­vide ev­i­dence of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, writ­ing, IT and pre­sen­ta­tional skills. The “key skills” list should form the bulk of the first page of the CV, the sec­ond be­ing oc­cu­pied by em­ploy­ment history, which can in­clude work ex­pe­ri­ence or jobs such as babysit­ting, and ed­u­ca­tion and qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers take about two sec­onds to de­cide whether a CV goes in the yes or no pile. There is there­fore an ad­van­tage to putting key skills at the be­gin­ning — the em­ployer is wowed straight away by what you can do. It is im­por­tant to tweak your CV for each job or in­tern­ship you ap­ply for, mak­ing sure your skills marry up to those they are look­ing for.

If your skills do not match those that are re­quired, find ways of boost­ing your skill set, such as by un­der­tak­ing vol­un­tary work or get­ting in­volved in more ac­tiv­i­ties. De­mon­strat­ing that you are an in­ter­est­ing per­son who par­tic­i­pates in what life has to of­fer makes you an out­stand­ing can­di­date to em­ploy­ers. A fo­cus on your skills will also give the em­ployer a sense of your per­son­al­ity and what makes you an in­di­vid­ual.

Other tips: do not in­clude your date of birth, as em­ploy­ers may be look­ing for ex­per­tise rather than ex­pe­ri­ence, but be dis­tracted by your age. Make sure your email ad­dress is sen­si­ble. Limit your CV to two pages and, most im­por­tantly, en­sure that there are no ty­pos. Natalie Lancer is the founder of MyUniAp­pli­ca­tion, of­fer­ing guid­ance on A-Level choices, univer­sity ap­pli­ca­tions, CVs and in­ter­views. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact info@myuniap­pli­ca­tion.com or visit www.myuniap­pli­ca­tion.com

A fo­cus on your skills will give the em­ployer a sense of your per­son­al­ity

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