We spoke to Jarrod Ruth, Business Development Manager and graduate recruitment specialist at CoSector, to find out how to market yourself with no real work experience.
Look at transferable skills
If you've worked in retail or at a bar, but have no experience relevant to the role you're applying for, look at transferable skills you can pull out from that work experience. If the job demands problem solving, think of a time at work when you've solved a problem, or gone above and beyond for a customer.
Match the person specification
Matching the person specification is important. If you've had experience at university organising an event or writing for a newspaper, use these examples to match up with the skills the company are looking for. They understand you are a graduate so will expect to see these sorts of examples.
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Focus on your studies
You've spent 3-5 years working hard at university, so write about examples relevant to the job spec related to your studies. Include modules you've excelled in, what you've learned, what you enjoyed studying, or even about your dissertation. If there is a part of your studies where you've had to emulate a project that reflects a real-life job task, make sure you mention that.
This includes simple things such as making sure you use the company name in the cover letter and ensuring you show you have researched the company in your application. This will show you're passionate about working there and this is what employers want to see.
Tailoring your CV can be as simple as changing your opening profile to match that job. Make sure the most relevant experience to that job is at the top of your graduate CV. For example, if you studied Ancient History but did a one week marketing internship and are applying for a marketing role, you should put the marketing internship above the degree. If you were applying for a position at a museum for a role related more closely to your degree, it would make more sense to put your degree information first.
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Your graduate CV and applications will stand out more if you offer examples instead of generic statements. If you've said you're a hard worker, you can back this up with an example of positive feedback from a lecturer, for example.