Man at laptop, CV images

I was talking to a friend the other day who is heading back into the workplace after many years of bringing up a family and it made me wonder how do you write a CV if you have no employment history to show?

For most people who have been in the workplace for most of their adult lives, writing a CV is about showing a potential employer how experience and skills in one role can equip you for another. This is shown by clearly identifying job titles and roles and responsibilities.

A CV for someone who has no employment history is no different. Its just a case of identifying what skills you have picked up along the way and applying them to the workplace. Let’s look into how to do that.

What is the purpose of a CV?

The purpose of a CV is to show an employer your skills and experience so that they can easily see whether or not you would be a good fit for a particular job. They will look at your CV and benchmark it against the essential and desirable criteria for the job. Your CV may also be used to shortlist candidates and decide who will be invited for interview.

In most cases, employers will not hire from a CV alone, but it is the way to get your foot in the door and give yourself the best chance possible. So, its important to make a great first impression and let the employer know that you already have exactly what they need or you possess the capacity to learn and grow into the role.

Check out this great article about the layout of your first CV

Why do employers want to see your employment history?

Listing your employment history along with a list of the main responsibilities within each previous role is a quick and easy way for an employer to see if you are qualified for the role they are offering. It is an at-a-glance way of telling whether you have done a similar job before and therefore how easy it would be to assimilate you into their role.

The important thing to remember is that when an employer writes a job description, it is a wish list. They will always show what is required but then may add on a few extras, a few “would be nice ifs”. They are always hopeful of getting someone that meets ALL the criteria – essential and desirable – but are under no illusions that those people are quite rare.

I was once told by a recruiter that if you fit just half the criteria listed, it is worth applying for the job. Obviously, this is not the case for very technical roles where specific qualifications are needed but, for most jobs, fitting the general criteria may very well be enough.

Why might someone have no employment history?

There are many reasons why someone might not have an employment history. Those who have been in full-time education and  stay-at-home parents are the first to spring to mind.

People may have had long term illnesses and have now recovered sufficiently to take employment. Or they may have been caring for sick or elderly relatives and now find themselves entering the job market later in life.

Some people are lucky enough to have sufficient funds to not need to work for a period of time.

Whatever the reasons, coming into the job market with a long period of employment inactivity can be daunting.

How do you identify your own transferable skills and experience?

This is an area which causes lots of concern for those without employment history. It just requires a bit of creativity and thinking outside the box when looking at your own skills and experience.

Here are some examples for stay at home mums. Think about all the tasks you complete in the home. Budget management, childcare, scheduling, multi-tasking, housekeeping, communication. These are all skills that can be applied into the workplace. Don’t be tempted to minimise the importance of these skills by thinking they’re not applicable.

Make a list of voluntary work, hobbies and interests, side hustles you may have had, educational achievements, sports. Once you do this, you will realise that there are many ways to meet the criteria listed in the job description.

What should be included on the CV in place of employment history?

The key thing to remember when putting together a CV is that it MUST be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. Generic CVs, in my experience, get you nowhere. Employers can tell who made the effort and who didn’t. You can really highlight your unique skills and personality in that one piece of paper if you work on it.

As a general rule, always include the following:

  • Qualifications. A list of your educational qualifications can show an employer that you have the capacity to apply yourself. Additionally, most employers now like employees to demonstrate  a basic understanding of subjects like Maths and English.
  • Education. It is important to include this even if you haven’t been in education in the recent past. It gives employers an idea of your educational and academic level.
  • Experience. You could include voluntary work, community activities such as running sports clubs, or any side hustles you may have been involved with. These things can demonstrate social and organisational skills, teamwork, reliability and an ability to self-motivate. Try not to undervalue any of these activities.
  • Skills and Attributes. This is where you can show the transferable skills that you have identified and that are applicable to the role. Why not prepare a list of these in advance along with examples of how you’ve applied the skills? Having the list ready will make it easier and quicker to select the right ones to match the employer’s requirements.
  • Achievements. A CV must remain professional so its important to only include serious achievements here. An employer won’t care if you won Best Arnie Schwarzenegger Impression at a Butlins talent show in 2001. But do include things like online courses that you have completed. Describe the time you trained for and ran a marathon. List the times when you co-ordinated fundraising drives for your local food bank.
  • Hobbies and Interests. Again, your CV needs to remain professional so be circumspect here with what you add and leave out. Listing a wide range of interests can highlight to an employer that you are a well-rounded individual who can turn their hand to a variety of things.

And finally!

Finally, always proof read your CV for spelling mistakes and grammar. It would be a shame to put all this work in and have your CV rejected because of that. You can do it yourself if your spelling and punctuation are on point or ask a trusted and competent friend. Your CV gives the first impression of you and you want it to be as perfect as possible!

So, now you can see that preparing a CV with no employment history is not only possible but can produce an impressive result. You just need to approach it with an open mind and some creative thinking.

Make a list of all your activities and responsibilities and identify the skills you use to carry them out. Then, using the essential and desirable criteria in the job description as your guide, list those skills to tailor your CV as needed.

If you enjoyed this and are ready for the next step, let The Life Plan show you how to Showcase Your Transferable Skills


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