To write a professional CV for a job application without prior work experience is not an easy task. Not even for an experienced professional. Some believe you can dump all your previous work experiences in any manner you like and expect to get called for an interview.
The bad news is unless the hiring manager or recruiter has specific instructions to look out for your CV in the pool of applications, you stand no chance of getting picked. Even if you are a right fit for the job.
In this post, we will be looking extensively at a number of things that need to be checked in order to have a professionally crafted CV whether you are an entry-level applicant or an experienced professional.
Imagine that scene where you graduated top of your class, went on to intern at a top-level organization and all of a sudden, things starts getting boring, or the environment becomes toxic.
Remember, you are an intern. Now, you want to go into fully into your career. You have all the needed skills, necessary certifications.
You are so sure you will be picked once you are able to convince the recruiter or hiring manager at an interview.
Now, here is the catch; you have been submitting applications and CVs all over the place but no call backs for interviews.
How are you going to prove to this people that you are highly skilled for these roles?
You are not even getting interviews.
Your CV is just not good enough.
In this post, we shall be providing answers to the following questions:
- What is a CV
- When Should I start writing/building my CV?
- What is the difference between a CV and a resume?
- When Do I Use a CV?
- When do I use a Resume?
- How do I know I need a CV?
- How can I format my CV properly?
- What are the things not to include in a CV
- What should I include in my CV?
You will get answers to these questions as you read further. Once you are through reading, feel free to check some samples. You can also build on the templates if you do not like stress.
What is a CV?
The word Curriculum Vitae is Latin for “Course of life”. When shortened, it becomes CV. It is a document, usually detailed, containing vital and relevant information about your academic background, work experience, and often, achievements – professional or academic.
To a job seeker, it is the document that stands for you. Most times, the hiring manager gets a lot of applications and can not possible invite everyone of them for an interview especially in a country like Nigeria.
What the hiring manager uses to separate the wheat from the chaff, is the CV or Resume.
When to start building a professional CV without experience
At what point should you start building a CV? This is a question most people do not have an answer to. Some have proposed the earlier you start writing your CV, the better.
Most people are often fazed with the question: “What should I put in my CV this early?” Especially people looking to build their CV without work experience.
As a high school (secondary school) student, undergraduate, or fresh graduate, it is important to start writing your CV as early as you think about it.
Once you start, it will only get easier as writing of CV evolves by the day. New convention is introduced from time to time. You only need to implement these changes to your CV as your progress.
So, it is advisable that you start building your CV as soon as you know the career path you want to toe. In your undergraduate days, make sure to document your achievements in the area of projects done, term papers written, real-life scenario-based assignments.
All these will help build your profile and will come in handy by the time you are ready to write your CV.
Difference between CV and Resume
This is a very important question a lot of blogs, articles, social media posts, even some HR personnel have failed to answer accurately. There are basically two factors that makes the difference between a CV and a Resume – content and region.
By content, a CV has more details. It usually covers at least two pages and includes details such as work history, education, awards, publications, and other accomplishments. Usually, a CV does not change from one job application to another, assuming you are pursuing the same career path. For instance, if you are a Software Developer, you can use the same unchanged CV to apply for the role of an IT Support, Programmer, DevOps Engineer, Data Analyst, etc.
For this reason, an accompanying cover letter will make up for the role difference.
We provide services in the area of helping with your cover letter
Now, for a resume, it is more compact, concise document. Depending on your experience, it is usually only a page or two and covers only the relevant points of a worker’s career and achievements that aligns with the specific job you are applying for. i.e. it is usually customized for every job application.
By region, the difference is in the naming convention. North American countries such as USA will use a resume in most cases, whereas in Australia and New Zealand, UK, a CV is the norm. In case you have forgotten, the British colonized Nigeria. It is common knowledge that Nigeria uses the British version of the English Language. Automatically, CV is the acceptable nomenclature in Nigeria.
So, when do you use a CV?
In the UK, some European countries, and Nigeria, CV is used to describe all job application documents. If you want to apply for fellowships, grants, postdoctoral positions, and teaching/research positions in postsecondary institutions or high-level research positions in industry, your best bet is to use a CV.
Does that mean you should not use a CV to apply for a job?
NO! You should also use a professional CV to apply for a job.
In that case, when do you use a resume?
When you are applying for a position in any industry, non-profit, and public sector, submit your resume of not more than 2 pages highlighting your achievements as concisely as possible.
Who needs a professional CV?
More like asking who needs a good life.
Not enough to ask who needs to eat as there are a lot of blue-collar jobs that might not require a CV. But if you need to get a good job, or get admitted into that highly ranked institution, you sure need a CV.
Did you hear highly ranked institution? Yes!
Which brings us back to when you need it. If you are applying for further studies e.g. Masters, Postgraduate Diploma, Fellowship, Doctorate, you need to apply with a CV. Especially if there is a gap between your first degree and your pursuant of further studies. So, if you fall into the categories listed below, you need a CV:
- Fresh graduate
- Experienced Professional
Now that you know that you need a CV, you have to get started on how to write a professional cv without experience. Let us start by taking a look at how to properly format a CV.
How to properly format a professional CV
You know when you were younger and asked to write about yourself? You must have started writing what is usually called a composition. Right?
Not in this case!
Imagine yourself as the recruiter. You have lots of CV to go through while searching for the ideal fit for the role.
What would you do when you see a long essay with tiny spaces and almost unreadable font size?
If you check that document, maybe the person is your family member. What are the odds?
There is no agreed upon format or style. What we will be looking at here is more or less a format that will provide for easy reading or scheming through.
It is about your CV having decent spacing, the font being big enough to not strain the eyes of the reader while not being too big, and some other very important styling.
So, what is the proper format for a CV to have?
Select the right font size and font type
It is bests to choose a size between 10 – 12 points. This will ensure your CV is not “shouting” at the person reading or looking at it.
For the font type, you do not want to use something decorative in appearance. Remember, you are applying for a job, not sending out a birthday invite.
Below are some recommended font types:
- Proxima Nova
Select the right margin
Overly large margins will leave too much white space. It might seem as if you are trying to cover up for a half empty CV.
Margins that are too small can will make the document or page look too busy.
Either ways, they may easily put off the hiring manager or employer. And that, is the direct opposite of what you want as a job seeker.
So, it is best to follow a good rule of thumb that recommends that you keep your margins between 0.5 – 1 inch.
Organize point listings with bullets
What is a CV without lists? You would have several things to list in your CV. Do not mentions points in series. List them out using bullet points.
By this, your CV will look more organized and recruiters or hiring managers will not have trouble sifting through the list.
Use section headers and bold keywords
Now, a very important thing to note is that you should ensure your resume is not muddled together.
You have to make sure that your title is distinguished from your body.
How do you ensure this? It is by separating your header or title from your content by making them bigger, bolder, or underlined. This would set these words apart from the rest.
Also, if your CV is to be read by a human, it would be okay to bolden your keywords. If it were a machine, it would not matter. But then, how would you know which is going to go through it?
So, it is best to take measure that would work well for both a human and a machine.
Having known how to properly format your resume, let us talk about the unnecessary things that would otherwise bloat your CV.
Things not to include when you write professional cv without experience
If you are not an experienced professional, if you do not have a working experience of up to 5 years, there is hardly any reason for your CV to be up to 4 pages.
A CV that is up to 5 pages or more does not necessarily impress the recruiter if it does not contain relevant and necessary information of the applicant.
You need only put your name, email address, phone number and home address – not too detailed, in your CV. Do not include your age or place of birth.
For security reasons, do not put your exact address on your CV. You can leave it to the local government area and state.
If you put so much personal information in your CV, you might just have made it easier for people with bad intentions to track you down.
In special cases though, like when applying for an out-of-town job, it is okay to leave off your location completely when applying , so that you do not unintentionally exclude yourself from consideration for the position.
Company Email ID
You can include your most used email addresses that are personal to you when you want to write professional cv without experience. But it is a no no to include your current company email ID on your CV or resume.
You might have created some emails with funny or descriptive emails in the past when you “did not know better” such as crankyjane, wild_dog, etc.
Ensure you use a mature email ID when searching and applying for jobs. You do not want people to get turned off or have the wrong idea about you because of your email ID.
Unless the job ad specifically asks for it, never include your photo in your CV. It is wise to have two versions of your CV – one with a photo and one without.
You should not be surprised that someone may reject you simply because of how you look. Asides that, photographs could make a 250KB document turn to 10MB which can result in technical difficulty when the recipient attempts to open your mail or document.
Overload of Information
When you want to write a professional CV without experience, you may be tempted you to do some things. One of such is you may be tempted to include the reason you are applying for the job in your CV or state why quit your last job. Do not include such!
The recruiter is only interested in how you fit the role you are applying. Personal details are not their concern. Keep those to yourself.
You need only reveal this when you are asked during the interview. Do not put it in your CV.
Including salary details on your CV is a basic blunder you should not commit. This is because companies have different structures for salaries.
Your revelation might show that you do not fit into their structure and by that, not consider you for the position. They may also reject you because you way above their budget.
Give yourself a chance to negotiate your salary, and then decide whether to take the job or not.
What should be in included in your Professional CV without experience
This is the part you get to see the very important things that MUST be in your CV or resume.
How to start your professional CV withiout experience
When you want to write professional cv without experience before now, it is not unusual to see people write boldly “Curriculum Vitae” at the very top of the document.
With a simple Google search, you will know that is not supposed to be. Even without being told, a recruiter or hiring manager already knows what it is.
What else could they be expecting it to be?
A marriage certificate?
So, hardly can you see any CV that is like that these days. Notwithstanding, it is good we reiterate you should not do such.
So, how then are you supposed to start your CV?
Start with your personal details
This is such that if they intend to call you back for an interview, they should be able to reach just by taking a glance at your CV. Do not hide it in between or place it at the end of your CV.
Do not stress your potential manager. You will be happier for it when you resume the job.
Your academic background and qualifications
This is key when you want to write your professional CV without experience.
By this, it does not mean you should put in your kindergarten or primary school details.
Even the secondary school does not matter.
Come on! You did not just fly into a tertiary institution. In recent climes, some recruiters might not even check this just yet.
When you write this part, start with your most recent. Ensure you include the dates as well. Your employer might need it.
Now, you do not need to include your class of degree if you graduated with a Pass or even a Third Class. But feel free to brag about your First Class or in most cases, you’re your 2nd Class Upper Division.
It is good to stylishly boast about your academic prowess.
Your work experiences
This could be by far the most important detail to include in your CV. This is where you display your wealth of experience and craft it in the form of accomplishments. We continue on our journey how to write a professional CV without experience.
Now, crafting previous work experiences as accomplishments is something our experts are able to do for you. Just subscribe to our service and we will have seasoned professionals revamp or update your CV for you.
In writing about your work experience, do well to also include the date, your job title, and your job responsibilities.
Take care to include the country of employment in case you are writing an international application letter.
Now, if you are fresh in the labour market, you should not worry, we have you in mind. It is possible you not really have the required work experiences that are relevant to the role you are applying for as with entry-level or fresh graduates.
However, do not be despair, you are not the only one.
In fact, for being on this blog, reading this article, you have edged over your counterparts.
What you should do is to capitalize on the skills and experiences you have. This is where your previous internship roles (IT/SIWES), volunteer experiences, even your final year project (assuming you wrote it yourself…haha) come in handy.
There are two types of skills – hard skills and soft skills.
Most companies are particular about the soft skills as they about the hard skills.
Think about it – how would you help the team with company with your software development prowess if you can not communicate well with your colleagues?
Hard skills are those skills that are measurable. They are specific to a job and are usually acquired through formal education or training. Examples are programming, accounting, analytics etc.
The soft skills are hardly measurable. They have no ties to any one job, rather, they are universal. They are interpersonal skills that drive the smooth flow of business at a workplace. Examples are creativity, persuasion, adaptability, critical thinking, etc.
An applicant with a good combo of these skills is a job magnet.
These fours details are the most important things you should include when you write a professional CV without experience to stand any chance at all.
Put your professional CV to the test
One of the greatest mistakes you can make with your CV is to not review it when you done writing it.
Having a resume is no use to you unless it is doing the work expected of it by getting you to the interview table in the least.
Need some help?
Avoid any further mistakes, and instead have a productive job search.