How to write a job application when you have no work experience
Writing a job application that makes you stand out from the crowd can be extremely difficult, even for the most experienced of candidates. Many even choose to enlist the help of a professional CV writing service, the investment is ultimately worth it if they get the job. But if you have no work experience at all, writing a job application can seem even more impossible.
However, there is no need to fret. Even without work experience, there are number of other ways to sell yourself to employers. Often they are not just looking for work experience, but transferable skills, character traits and other forms of life experience. Here are some of the ways you can ensure your job application is attractive without any past employment.
Draw on non-work related work experience
One of the most effective ways to sell yourself to employers is to draw on any non-work related work experience you have. For example, any examples of leadership are much coveted. If you have been a captain of a sports team, a prefect or led a team project at school, it is worth putting these roles in an achievements section. Mentioning leadership suggests to employers that you have a number of attributes, including good interpersonal skills and initiative.
Another way to draw on non-work related work experience is to talk about any hobbies or interests that you have. If you run an online blog, this demonstrates that you are pro-active and self-motivated. It also may have provided you with skills that tie in well with the role, like your ability to use social media. If you have undertook particularly impressive activities like organising fundraising events or running a marathon, these again will look good on your application.
Discussing your education can also be a useful way of boosting your application. Linking in how your education enhanced skills like research, possibly in relation to a dissertation or other long term project, will be beneficial. You can also talk about how it honed your organisation and planning skills, as well as how what you specifically studied might tie into the role you are applying for.
Take up voluntary work
Another surefire way to appeal to employers is to take up voluntary work. Although this will be unpaid, you will gain invaluable experience that will stand you in good stead for employment. Doing so proves that you want to gain experience, shows you’re driven by more than just money and that you have an insight into working life.
There are numerous ways that you can take up voluntary work. You might want to go into mentoring, where you might spend time with an isolated member in the community, undertaking activities with them. You could teach others, either at your university, school or for a range of other institutions. Other voluntary roles can include stewarding, counselling and administrative work.
Not only will doing so demonstrate that you are a strong character, you will also be able to tie in any of the skills learnt on your application. For example, many of the above mentioned roles show leadership skills, which as aforementioned is extremely highly regarded by employers. These type of roles also demonstrate interpersonal skills, ability to deal with responsibility, problem solving and adaptability, amongst many others.
Sell yourself and show some personality in your cover letter
How you write your application could also be the difference between getting an interview or not. You need to ensure that you engage the reader and talk up your achievements to make up for your lack of employed work experience.
Whilst your CV can be generally descriptive, your cover letter is often what employers read first and is what you need to hook them in with. Don’t simply restate what you put in your CV, this is your opportunity to show some personality and really sell yourself. Instead of stating what experience you have, explicitly say what skills you gained from these experiences and use anecdotes to bring these examples to life.
For example, when discussing your time as a sports team captain and how this honed your leadership skills, embellish this with examples of when you had to be the leader. For example, you might have had to mentor a new player on the team or made split second decisions when on the pitch. Whatever your experience is and what skills you’ve nurtured, providing stories about them allows employers to see the impact of your work for themselves. This also gives them a deeper insight into you as a person and helps to get them to know you better, again making you significantly more employable.