5 Essential Steps to Make Any CV Experience Excellent!

Out of all the CV worries I hear, one is the most common: lacking relevant experience. However, once these conversations develop, it becomes clear what the real issue is. It’s not lacking experience, it’s lacking the knowledge of how to frame that experience.

From part-time work to sports teams, voluntary work to attending insight days, there is great potential to showcase what you’ve done and what makes you, you. Read on for my 5 steps on how to build your CV and make your experience stand out!

  1. What experience do I have?

think

“Experience” doesn’t have to mean numerous 12-week internships at prestigious firms. Anything which has helped you to develop as a person and build your skill set can be relevant!

Some examples include:

  • Part-time work (eg waitressing, nannying, tutoring, retail)
  • Voluntary work (eg helping at fundraisers, one-off volunteering, representing a charity, being an university rep)
  • Sportsmanship (eg being a member of the football team, playing netball socially)
  • One-off events (eg attending insight days, conferences)
  • Society work (eg drama groups, writing for a student magazine, being a member of a society)
  • Independent work (eg running a blog (…who does that, ha!), teaching yourself to code, readership/membership of online resources/groups)

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Really think about what you do/have done outside of your degree over the last few years – there’s probably more than you think!

You can also include parts of your degree under your experience if you’re struggling, such as leading a group project as part of your course.

2. How can I briefly outline that experience?

describe

Okay, so now you’ve established your experience, it’s important to think of how to best explain it to the reader. I’d usually recommend writing a position title, the company/organisation it was for and the date range.

If your experience included any leadership responsibilities, it’s good to highlight this in your position title! For example, were you responsible for coordinating other members of staff, or staff mentorship? Did you have to lead a fundraising stall on the day at an event?

Think about your role within the team and how best to classify your position. Also consider how to make it accessible to the reader; they should understand your role straight away without over-complicated jargon.

For example:

Head Waitress El Restaurante May 2015 – Present

Team Leader Youth Camp Co. June 2017 – August 2017

3. What skills did this position help me to develop?

skills

Now, this is the important bit. Your experience will have helped you to develop relevant skills in some way. Think about how that position has helped you to improve what you’re good at; for example, leadership, time management and completing work to a high standard. Consider what skills the role you are applying for would need.  Often, it’s worth checking companies’ websites – some organisations even advertise exactly what talents they are looking for!

However, rather than just listing these skills or having a “skills section” on your CV, my advice is to demonstrate your skills and development by adding examples, details and information to your proven experience. Why?

  • It gives concrete examples and evidence of your skills, rather than just claiming you have them and expecting the reader to believe it
  • It shows how you have developed certain skills over time
  • It saves space on your CV
  • It stops you generally waffling about your skillset and forces you to focus on your best talents

So, you want to use specific examples from the positions that you have held to demonstrate your skills and how you have developed from your experience.

You want to summarise this information briefly and succinctly. The average recruiter reads your CV for 6 seconds no one has time to read huge paragraphs!

For example:

Head Waitress El Restaurante May 2015 – Present

  • Delivering a high standard of service under tight time pressures has developed my strong time management skills and flexibility.
  • Hold responsibility in mentorship role with new members of staff, where I develop their skillset and their understanding of the role so as to improve team efficiency.

Team Leader Youth Camp Co. June 2017 – August 2017

  • Took the initiative to create a new lunchtime activity “My Smart Maths”, which improved members’ experience and mathematical skills.
  • Worked collaboratively with staff team to deliver a fun, engaging experience for members.

4. Use numbers and statistics to prove your point (where possible):

_79912472_numbers_thinkstock

After clearly outlining your role, your experiences in it and the skills that you developed, there is one final element that you can add to make your CV as effective as possible: numbers and statistics.

Numbers and statistics are great as they add clarity and readability to your experience. They also give an idea of the scale and scope of your experience. Think creatively! For example, if you were elected to a society leadership position, how big was the student body that voted you in? If you run a social media page for an organisation, how much did it grow whilst you were in charge?

For example:

Head Waitress El Restaurante May 2015 – Present

  • Delivering a high standard of service under tight time pressures has developed my strong time management skills and flexibility. Recipient of 5* customer service prize at 2017 staff meeting for my effectiveness.
  • Hold mentorship responsibility for 6 new members of staff, where I develop their skillset and their understanding of the role so as to improve team efficiency.

Team Leader Youth Camp Co. June 2017 – August 2017

  • Took the initiative to create a new lunchtime activity “My Smart Maths”, which improved members’ experience and mathematical skills. Lunchtime club attendance increased 50% after this was introduced.
  • Worked collaboratively in 8-person staff team to deliver a fun, engaging experience for 80+ members.

5. Get a friend, peer or family member to check it over!

paper

Often, we are oblivious to what we’re good at or the experience that we have because it seems so normal or “ordinary” to us as a part of our everyday lives! People who know you well are great at pointing out the great things you’ve done and your particular strengths. Your support network can also support you in checking that your CV experience “flows” and that it’s understandable to someone else.

congrats

…That’s it!

Congratulations – you’re on your way to a great CV. Hopefully, you feel a bit more confident in the skills you already have and how to present them. If you’re struggling for space, check out what you can cut out of your resume here.

Also, this exercise can be great at highlighting what skills or experience you need to develop further. If you are lacking something instrumental to your application, this can be a great opportunity to take up a new activity or volunteer!

Start exploring what’s out there; not just for your CV, but for you to grow as an individual too. Good luck!

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