How to build up work experience for your CV

Two people volunteering

There are lots of ways you can gain valuable work experience, even if you are currently studying at college or university – you just have to get creative!

As a student, there are lots of things you can do to help your situation – and your CV.

Use voluntary work for your CV

Voluntary work is a great way to get some experience for your CV. Whether it’s a local charity or a country park – you’ll always find work quickly and easily.

A voluntary position will often allow you to choose when you want to work. Although you want to be as amenable as possible with the employer, you may be able to still study and work at the same time.

Weekends may be your time to relax, but if you’re studying in the week and you want some valuable work experience, you should fill that time with something important. Remember, it will only be temporary until you get full time work.

Local country parks are always looking for help, so this is another avenue to consider in addition to the obvious high street charity shop.

Not only is voluntary work real work, it’s also a great way to impress a potential employer who comes across your CV. It’s certainly a better avenue to approach than working for your Dad on the weekend cutting the grass. This will not add any value to your CV, and although the pay is certainly better, this is not what’s important right now if you want to get into full time employment.

You don’t need money

Try not to focus on the one negative when it comes to voluntary work – the lack of pay. If you are not willing to do what it takes to create a great CV, then you are going to continue to struggle to find full time paid employment. You have to look at the bigger picture and realise what’s more important.

Voluntary work doesn’t just create work experience for your CV. It also creates additional skills – both hard and soft. A hard skill is a specific skill, like using the till or operating a telephone system. A soft skill describes a more generic skill like communication and problem solving – all of which are equally important to an employer.

Choose something you are passionate about

You don’t have to choose a voluntary role just because you know it will look good on your CV. Instead, consider choosing something which you are passionate about. There are some great charities out there to choose from, as well as local country parks which may offer you the chance to work in the great outdoors.

You may even be fortunate enough to find a position which helps develop similar skills to your chosen career. At the very least you will find that developing the most obvious soft skills like communication, will benefit you for the future. Every single interaction with a colleague or customer will make you a better worker, and enable you to succeed in all your endeavours.

Finally, you may be offered a more permanent paid position if you perform well. Voluntary work doesn’t just mean charity shops or country parks. Lots of businesses are happy to take on recent school leavers to help them build work experience. A part time position may also be worth considering, as it may lead to something more worthwhile.

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