How to gain more skills and experience for your CV

If you’re a recent school leaver you may be wondering how you’re going to build up a nice list of skills that you can show off to an employer on your CV. Or it could be that you’ve already gained some valuable work experience, but you’d like to add more.

There are lots of ways you can add more skills and experience to your CV – and here’s how:

Voluntary work 

One of the best ways to gain more skills for your CV is in the workplace, but if you are not currently in a job then obviously you are a little bit in limbo right now. Voluntary work is a fantastic way to not only develop your currents skills further, but to gain brand new ones.

Obviously it’s always nice to be paid for your efforts, but if you’re struggling to find work because you feel you are lacking in experience and skills, then voluntary work will open lots of doors for you and bolster your CV.

A school leaver will benefit enormously from voluntary work, and instantly create more experience for a CV that may be looking a little bare. But it isn’t just about trying to make your CV look good, and the soft and hard skills you will develop from being in a work environment will be valuable for the rest of your career.

An employer may also look very favourably at someone who has volunteer work on their CV, as it can demonstrate other personal attributes – selflessness and hard work. If you are willing to give up your free time for no pay, then clearly you are someone who is dedicated to helping others and to advance their skills and overall career.

“Giving back to worthy causes not only makes you feel good, it also goes a long way to impressing potential employers.”

~ Jemma Smith, Prospects

Part time work 

Part time job role

Part time work, even in an unrelated sector, helps you to build transferable skills.

No matter what career you are pursuing, part time work will always be a great way to bring in some cash whilst developing your skills further. Similar to voluntary work, you are subjecting yourself to a working environment and interacting with customers and co-workers. Team working, communication, meeting deadlines and so on, are all soft skills which an employer would always want to see on a CV.

If possible, always try to find part time work in a similar industry to the one you are hoping to gain full time employment in. Transferable skills and experience will catch the eye of the hiring manager, and if your CV has both the skills and the experience they are looking for, you are going to be one step ahead of the competition.

If however you are unable to find part time or voluntary work that is similar to your chosen career path – don’t fear. You should still take on something and continue to build up your skills and experience. Some work is better than no work, and an employer would not want to see a gap in your work history for obvious reasons. Further, roles in a different sector will often help build transferable skills.

Education 

Another great way to fill your time and gain valuable skills for your CV is to study. Ideally you always want to try and enrol on a course so you can add this to your CV – and don’t forget that there will be additional skills that could have been attained too: like research, essay or dissertation writing, literacy skills, and so on.

Freelancing

If you’ve got a skill that can be carried out for individuals without the need for a business, why not freelance to build your experience? Freelancing can be included on your CV (together with any good feedback, to show you’re working competently). Aside from carrying out tasks for your family and friends’ businesses, you could also try picking up work through freelance sites such as Fiverr and PeoplePerHour.

Community projects

Getting involved in the local community is a great way to build and demonstrate some of the soft skills that employers value highly. In this video, Rachel Calderon Navarro explains how:

Industry knowledge

Job interview

Your CV needs to demonstrate industry knowledge.

If you don’t have the time or the resources or just don’t want to take a course, then there are still ways you can keep busy by swotting up on your chosen career and industry.

A great way to ensure your CV has commercial awareness and industry knowledge is to stay in touch with what’s happening with a particular company. Read their website and visit any social media pages to keep your finger on the pulse and to find out more about their customers and the product or service they are offering. If they’re listed on the stock exchange, read their annual reports and any RNS releases which will give you a good understanding of the company’s strategy and performance.

When a hiring manager reads through all the applications, they will easily be able to tell who knows their stuff and who doesn’t. Your CV can only remain relevant and up to date if you know exactly what’s happening in the world, and if your knowledge is second to none, you will have a distinct advantage when it comes to choosing the best CVs for an interview.

You can also demonstrate industry knowledge by using social profiles to tweet and share on relevant topics. Follow industry leaders, comment on and share their material. Your profiles (such as LinkedIn and Twitter) can be included on your CV so that prospective employers can see that you have a genuine interest in your field.

If you’d like more ideas about presenting non-traditional work experience on your CV, please visit our school leaver’s page.

If you’d like to know more about building your work experience, try here.

About Martin Carline

Martin has been a senior manager of a large customer service team within the education services industry, dealing with all aspects of staff recruitment and management. He now authors and manages content for CV Template Master and a number of other leading websites. In his spare time, Martin is an accomplished pianist and teaches all styles with a particular focus on boogie woogie and blues.

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