It’s a competitive world out there. While you’re busy applying for jobs and courses, unfortunately, there’ll be a hundred (or even a thousand!) others vying for spots, too. The best way to stand out is with an epic CV, and we’ll help you write one in this blog.
What is a CV?
A CV is a document that basically summarises your experience, skills and achievements. You can use it when you’re applying for jobs, courses and other opportunities to showcase who you are, what you’ve done and what you can bring to the table. Here are some quick do’s and don’ts to remember when you write your first CV:
- Keep it short – 1 page of A4 is the maximum length.
- Keep the design simple. Instead of fancy fonts and colours, use a simple CV template.
- Ask a teacher or parent to edit it for typos and spelling mistakes.
- Save the document as a PDF so it looks professional.
- Never lie on your CV, no matter how tempting it is. Lying can have an extremely negative impact on your career prospects in the future, and you’ll pay the price for it.
- Include unnecessary personal details – your name, phone number and email address are enough.
- Title it ‘CV’.
What should you write on your first CV?
You should split your CV into a few key sections. Let’s write one together:
This section should be super short.
- Name – It might sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget. You can use your name as the title.
- Contact details – Include your email address and phone number. There’s no need to include your address.
- Short introductory summary – This is a small section at the top of your CV that should be 50-100 words. Briefly explain who you are, your key skills and why you’re applying for the opportunity.
Tip: Make sure you have a professional email address. Interviewers won’t crack a smile when they have to contact you at email@example.com!
At this point in your life, you probably have loads more to say about your academic background than work experience. Here’s what you should include:
- Soft skills – These are skills related to your personality. E.g., teamwork, communication, problem-solving, time management, self-confidence or public speaking.
- Hard skills – These are skills related to the job. E.g., project management, software coding, graphic design, foreign languages or journalism writing.
- Grades and subjects – List your high school subjects and grades, plus what you studied for your A Levels, T Levels or apprenticeship (if you’re at that stage yet).
- Achievements and awards – Are you the head boy/girl at school? Won an award for your writing in English class? Did you lead the football team to a regional win? Write it in your CV!
- Extra courses – This section is for extra courses you’ve completed. E.g., first aid training.
Tip: Use bullet points when explaining what you’ve done in each section. Be sure to keep your writing concise, clear and specific.
Don’t have any work experience? Don’t worry. For each opportunity, make sure you include your job title, the company name and employment dates, as well as a few bullet points on what you did.
- Paid jobs, internships and work experience – Don’t just explain what you did in your job. You should also include details about how you participated in the workplace and the skills you learned.
- Apprenticeships – As apprenticeships are split between working and studying, you can write about both aspects.
- Shadowing and volunteering – You could include volunteering in the work experience or hobbies sections, depending on what kind of volunteering it was.
Hobbies, interests and extracurricular projects
This section gives you a chance to show your transferrable skills. After all, you learn just as much outside the classroom as you do in it. For example, if you’re the netball team captain, you can explain what leadership and communication skills you’ve learned and how you practice effective leadership strategies during training.
- School projects – Did you participate in extra projects, such as theatre productions or helping run events? Explain what you did to help.
- Volunteering – Talk about any fundraising, charity or volunteering work you’ve done and why it’s important to you.
- Hobbies, sports, interests and clubs – This is a chance to show your personality a bit more. Try to choose things that are relevant to the job. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing job, you could include your hobby of writing stories or blogs.
A reference is a short written statement from someone who knows you in a professional or academic environment, like a teacher or manager – nope, your best friend’s mum can’t write it for you! It’s fine to put ‘references available on request’ on your CV, but make sure you have them ready.
Before you leave school, it might be a good idea to ask one or two teachers for a reference that you can use in the future.
- Academic reference – This is from one of your teachers.
- Professional reference – This is from a manager or colleague outside school.
Tip: Try to maintain a positive relationship with every teacher you have – yep, every single one. A good reference can be the difference between you and another candidate when you apply for jobs and courses.
Questions to ask yourself before you write a CV
Before getting started, reflect on your experience in school and jot down your answers to these questions:
- What’s your biggest achievement so far?
- Can you think of a time when you contributed significantly to a group project? How did you contribute, and what was the outcome?
- Can you think of a time when you faced a big problem? What was the problem, and how did you overcome it?
- List three top personality traits you have and write an example of when you demonstrated each.
- List three top industry-specific skills you have and describe when you demonstrated each.
Remember, your CV isn’t just about what you’ve done. It’s about what you can do, so it’s the perfect opportunity to sell yourself.
If your CV is looking a little bit sparse at the moment, consider what you can do to improve your personal profile. For example, you could sign up for a Saturday job, do some volunteering, or even complete a course online.
Relax. We’ll send the jobs to you.
Reckon you know what you want to do, but can’t find the perfect role? Most companies hire their apprentices in a ‘recruitment window’. This means many great jobs are only available for a short time once or twice each year.
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