You’ve just graduated. Maybe you’re still studying, but you’re eager to get started as a copywriter. You’re going to need a CV. Writing a CV is about selling yourself. However, when you don’t have any experience, it’s challenging to know how to market yourself as a valuable worker. Today, we’re talking about how you can write a great CV even without experience. Let’s dive right into why a CV will help you.
Why do I Need a CV?
Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an account of your education, qualifications, and work history. Just about every job listing in existence requires a CV from its applicants. If you’re an employer, having details about their abilities is essential. Even if you haven’t completed a qualification like a degree and have no work history, you need a CV to advertise yourself to recruiters and potential clients.
When you don’t have a work history to reference, you can include other factors about yourself on your CV.
What Do I Put on My CV When I Have No Experience?
You can market yourself on your CV without an extensive job history in various ways. The key is to focus on what you have done rather than what you haven’t; think about what you can bring to a role that an employer wants to see. Let’s break it down.
Many job listings will ask for a personal statement. You should include one at the start of your CV - whether they ask for it or not - if you don’t have experience. Keep it short. Recruiters and potential clients can read hundreds of emails on any given day; they don’t want time to waste.
Write roughly 150-200 words about yourself in the opening of your CV. Talk about your personal qualities and ambitions, and keep it relevant to the job role itself. Job listings will mention the features they’d like to see in their ideal candidates. Reuse the terms from the listing to show hiring managers that you understand what they want to see.
If you don’t have any work experience, you must advertise your personality instead. Employers value your individual traits in addition to work experience. Spend some time mind-mapping which skills you should mention to market yourself the most. Create a section in your CV titled ‘Strengths’ where you can list roughly 5-10 of your best qualities.
Keep your ‘Strengths’ sections as a bullet-point list. You can expand on the most relevant points in your personal statement, so simple traits will do here. Some common valuable strengths include honesty, curiosity, efficiency, politeness, and personability. Think of which characteristics best describe you.
Hard and Soft Skills
Beyond your personality traits, you have marketable skills that can help. There are soft skills and hard skills that you can list on your CV. Soft skills include attributes like ‘hard-working’, ‘independent learner’, and ‘solutions-oriented’. You can separate your skills section into ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills to keep things clear for the recruiter or client.
Are you proficient at using software, editing tools, market research tools, and more? These are all hard skills. Many copywriters use software that has free versions, which is perfect for new copywriters to learn before gaining on-the-job experience. Spend some free time learning how these programs work and how to make the most of them to show recruiters that you’re genuinely passionate about working in the industry.
Social Media Skills
If you’ve grown up with social media, you have skills many senior staff members may not have. Using social media is a core component of copywriting and content marketing. If you have experience managing social media accounts (including yours), you should mention it in your CV.
Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all worth exploring and understanding for the benefit of your career. If you have a passion, like photography or cooking, consider starting another account to document that. Learn about relevant trends on the platform and establish the best practices for gaining subscribers and followers.
Any Work Experience
It’s okay if you don’t have experience in the full-time workforce when you create your first CV. However, if you have ever had any work experience, it’s worth including in your CV. Maybe you had a newspaper round when you were younger or had a waitressing job over the summer before. Include it!
The same applies to volunteer roles as well. If you’ve ever helped a charity organisation, you can talk about how the experience gave you a greater understanding of the ‘real world’. If you have any work history to refer to, talk about how you learned valuable skills about working outside of an academic setting, working with others, working with the public, etc.
You have hobbies - everyone does. Use your hobbies to identify skills or traits about you and show off your personality. Maybe you’ve always played a team sport, in which case you’re an active team player that would surely brighten up any office. Don’t limit yourself to something you’ve done as part of a club; independent hobbies are as valid as organised ones.
If you’re an avid reader, you can transfer that into a skill by highlighting that you’re detail-oriented. Mention a few of your favourite book titles to make your CV personal to you. Giving specific examples of favourite books, films, or bands also allows you to bond with an interviewer and break the ice if they’re familiar with the book/film/band/etc.
Keywords and Customisation
Every job posting has keywords about the role you should include in your CV or cover letter. When you read the posting, decide which terms to insert into your personal statement to have the best impact. The job listing creator has just given you a guideline on what they want to find in a perfect application.
As every job listing is different, so should every application be different. Customise your CV with each application so you’re putting your best foot forward each time. Applying for jobs can feel soul-crushing. It is arduous to get that all-important first role that gives you the experience to expand. Customising your CV and cover letters takes time, but it’ll be worth it when you get that callback for an interview.
How Can I Boost My CV if I Can’t Get Work Experience?
Believe it or not, you can improve your CV without any work experience. Here are a couple of ways to boost your CV without magically having relevant work experience.
We briefly mentioned earlier that you could try out some relevant software for copywriting without even paying for a subscription. Building on that, explore other areas where you can learn independently before applying for jobs.
Check out some job listings for roles you’re interested in and see which skills show up repeatedly. Make a note of anything you notice that comes up frequently, like Grammarly, Answer the Public, or Surfer SEO. Your next step is to head to YouTube and search ‘how to use x,y,z software’. YouTube is a wealth of accessible knowledge that can give you a huge leg up in the entry-level job market.
Mention in your CV that you’ve taught yourself to use these programs and software. Employers will be impressed with your initiative and go-getter mentality.
Some of your peers have likely been more lucky (or better connected) in the job market. If you know someone already working in copywriting, editing, or publishing, contact them. You can use your network of connections to learn about trends in the industry, and it might even get you some work experience in an internship position.
If you are a student or a recent graduate, reach out to your careers department. They can put you in touch with alums in your field who can offer you advice or put in a good word for you in an application.
How Do You Say You Have No Experience But Willing to Learn?
Sometimes, you want to write plainly and just say, ‘I have no experience, but I’ll work hard, and I’ll learn, I swear!’. Unfortunately, that doesn’t scream ‘professional’. Try these ways to let employers know that you’re keen to learn instead.
Before you send in an application, research the company to learn more about them, their core values, and the type of business they operate. For one thing, you might not like what you see. It’s better to back out if you read about their company culture and think it’s not for you. However, If you see many qualities you like, you can use these to your advantage.
When you write a cover letter, for example, you can incorporate information about how you are excited to contribute to the company’s commitment to high-quality copy. Employers like to see that you’ve taken the time to customise your application, particularly if you mention something specific, like a company ethos.
Reach Out Beyond the Application
Job listings all feature contact details for a relevant staff member - you should be talking to that person. Email them and let them know you’re interested in the position. If you have any further questions about the role or the company, ensure you direct these questions to them in your first contact.
Reaching out like this shows your enthusiasm and initiative - something employers always want. You can even highlight in the email that you lack experience but are eager to learn more in a fantastic role like this one. Sending an email also makes it more likely that your name sticks in the recruiter’s mind, a significant advantage when they’re combing through the applications.
Although you probably shouldn’t talk about how you’re desperate for a job and you’ll happily learn as you go, there’s nothing wrong with finding a professional way to say this in your application. In your personal statement or cover letter, throw in a sentence about how you don’t plan to be held back by your inexperience.
An example is to say, ‘Although I have no workplace experience, my strong academic background and enthusiasm for the world of copywriting have left me in an excellent position to excel in a new environment’.
Finding your first job is almost like getting on the property market. It can seem impossible before you’ve achieved it, but once you’re in, it’s much less scary than you might think. You’ll find the mission easier to accomplish, even without work experience, if you use some of the advice in this blog. For more advice about copywriting, join us at The Author’s Pad, where writers live and work.