Need experience to get that job? Top 5 suggestions to boost your cv

Job hunting is tough out there as a new graduate or school leaver. You need to get a job to gain some experience but every job advert requires experience. So, what can you do to gain experience and skills to enhance your cv and make your application stand out?

These are my top 5 suggestions:

Gain relevant work experience

If possible, try and get some work experience in a relevant field.

  • Part time work at weekends, holidays or after school
  • Work experience / shadowing

Are there opportunities to gain work experience organised through your school or university? Can you spend a week or even just a day shadowing someone? Even better, can you volunteer regularly, perhaps one afternoon a week to help? If you don’t have the personal contacts, research local companies and send an email asking for an opportunity to visit to gain some industry experience. The worse-case scenario is that they say no thanks or don’t reply. However, you may be lucky enough to be offered a morning or even longer to find out about the company. Once you get a foot in the door, be punctual, be interested and ask lots of questions. Make the most of your time, it could lead to more opportunities.

Experience in a relevant working environment shows that you have gained some knowledge of what the job entails, can prove that you enjoy and are interested in what you are doing and can commit to the level of attendance required.

If you have a job but are looking to progress your career elsewhere, staying in work is a very good idea and, be reassured, you will be gaining skills and experience that are valuable. However, if you can, try to explore more relevant opportunities on a part time basis or over a holiday. If you just don’t see the type of role you want being offered, try a speculative application.

Be a volunteer

There are large numbers of volunteering positions available in a wide range of sectors from working in charity shops, helping with youth groups, coaching in sports to environmental work. Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate not just that you are willing to give up your time to benefit others, but that you are reliable, can work with others and take responsibility for the work that you do. Volunteering can provide you with the opportunity to develop skills and experience that are valuable in the work place and can be also used to show that you are using your time productively while job hunting for something more permanent. Check out local organisations, The National Trust for Scotland, The Conservation Volunteers or Project Scotland for more ideas on what’s available.

 Make a song and dance about it

Performing takes confidence and is just one of the many skills that you can demonstrate if you are involved in music, drama or another performing art. It takes a huge amount of guts to get on stage and perform. Playing a musical instrument in an ensemble takes practice and perseverance, requires listening to those around you and working together. And again, demonstrating a regular commitment to a group is also a hugely positive trait and a great cv booster.

 Be a good sport

It won’t just be your fitness levels that you display if you play with a sports team. You will also be demonstrating valuable work skills such as commitment, fair play, teamwork and effort, not to mention a healthy regard for competition. If you participate in an individual sport then self-reliance and confidence are also factors you will possess. If there are opportunities to coach, referee or help at competitions then take them, these can also be a great addition to your cv.

 Speak up for others as a student representative, prefect or peer mentor

If you can be a student representative, prefect or peer mentor at school or college, then go for it. Not only does it show that you are well regarded amongst school staff but you will be taking responsibility for different tasks, representing your peers, developing your communication skills and contributing back to your school.

Links to volunteer organisations

The National Trust for Scotland:

Project Scotland:

The Conservation Volunteers:

A.M. Interview Coach provides one to one interview skills coaching and cv advice. For more information visit or email


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