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I'm looking over a CV for a friend; this young person unfortunately has zero formal qualifications following an unorthodox school career due to former health problems; this person also has no work experience beyond some volunteer work. However, this person is relatively well educated and savvy, and is now looking to make up for lost time in employment.

Aside from emphasising the volunteering work, what would be good components to add to the CV of such an individual? I have suggested adding:

  • School experience, even when it hasn't produced a qualification,
  • Online courses,
  • Any friends' projects they may have helped with,
  • Any qualifications they are aspiring or working towards (although I'm not sure what the best format for something like that would be).

Is there any way, from a recruiter's point of view, to convey this person's genuine eagerness and suitability for entry level roles, and justify the lack of experience and qualifications, without specifically outlining their previous health issues?

EDIT: To clarify: my friend is applying for entry-level retail and catering jobs, but is open to other entry level work.

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    I think eagerness and suitability may be better expressed in a cover letter and by personal references. Since you only want to address the CV, I'm not posting this as an answer.
    – user8365
    May 4, 2014 at 21:27
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    The best way to express eagerness to learn is by learning. What has (s)he done in their spare time during this period? Any projects to show? May 4, 2014 at 21:28
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  • My best advice would be to find someone who is good at writing CVs. The same information can say "I have this little knowledge, and you shouldn't really hire me", or "I don't have much knowledge yet, but you should really hire me because what I have is useful, and I will learn everything else I need", depending on who writes it. I once changed someone's CV who basically wrote "I'm not very good because I only know A, B and C" to "I'm really good because I know A, B and C" all through the CV.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 14, 2022 at 10:31

2 Answers 2

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If your friend is young, then employers aren't going to be bothered by a lack of experience. They know that people coming fresh out of school aren't necessarily going to have had experience.

Instead, what employers will be looking for, is reliability, passion, ability to learn, ability to work as a team and be a good fit.

Your CV should be tailored around showing this.

The suggestions you've got are all good.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Any work done in own time, projects worked on.
  • Any volunteering.
  • Any interest groups you attend.

There simply is no need to highlight or explain lack of experience. Rather just present a good picture or why you're a good fit and let that sell yourself for the role.

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  • And with regards to volunteering - what responsibilities did you friend have, and how did he fulfil his tasks? Even if it's just a case of "ensuring the floor is clean" kind of stuff.
    – HorusKol
    May 4, 2014 at 23:53
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These are my 3 tips for writing a better CV for beginners.

The best tip that improves a CV's overall layout is to use canva.com, a very easy-to-use, accessible tool that makes a CV, or any other presentation, look professional and polished.

The best tip to showcase key skills is to search the keywords companies, particularly big ones, usually scan for. This helps the applicant’s CV be considered and not eliminated by e-scanners that filter CVs based on set keywords.

My final tip for the lack of experience is to focus on the volunteer jobs you mentioned. In addition, your portfolio can make up for this gap. You can add the best projects you have worked on (can be a university project), papers, and sample models, just to show what you are capable of.

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