With exam season around the corner and your school years coming to an end, you’re probably beginning to look for your first job.
Whether that’s just a summer job until you leave for University in September, or something more permanent to see you through your last years of school, our guide will help you create a CV that shows off your skills and experience.
If you’re looking for an entry-level job or a summer internship/training programme, you’ll need to put together a CV.
Your CV needs to be easy to read and should cover all the necessary information a potential employer may need to know. You should also update your CV for each job application and adapt it to show you have the qualities and qualifications the employer is looking for.
To give you a head-start, we’ve put together a CV template for school leavers/people looking for their first job:
What should you include?
Our example CV will give you ideas and help you get started, but this is the basic information you need to cover, in the order it should appear:
Personal details and contact information
This is essential, otherwise, how would an employer get in touch with you? Make sure to include a phone number you can be reached on (a mobile instead of a home phone number, for example) and make sure your email is appropriate! Greg_jones@hotmail.co.uk is better than firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s all useful to make sure your address is up there with your contact details, as recruiters who see your CV online may need to know if you are within distance of a job they are recruiting for.
After your personal details, you should always follow up with your personal statement and make sure it’s specific to you. There is no point saying you are outgoing and enthusiastic if you are a more reversed person – because there’s nothing wrong with that! Pick a few key positives about your attitude and explain why they make you a great employee. In terms of layout, try and answer the following questions: Who are you? What do you have to offer? What are you aiming for in your career?
It’s likely that, as a school-leaver, you have minimal work experience, if any at all. So, instead of concentrating on minimal work history, the most effective CVs written by school leavers often prioritise skills. For example, IT/Computer skills (Photoshop or other specific editing programmes), or soft skills like public speaking are all desirable qualities to have.
Education should be included from GCSE level onward. If you’re still waiting on your results, including your mock/expected results is a good placeholder. Write in reverse-chronological order, with your most recent qualifications at the top.
Any particular courses, modules or additional training you’ve done that may be relevant to the role you’re applying for can be used to demonstrate your wider knowledge of the subject.
Work Experience/Voluntary Work
If you do have any work experience, even if it was only for a brief period, it is worth including. Any unpaid voluntary work or work experience you did whilst at school is also worth including here.
Hobbies and Interests
This section is optional. However, if you’re lacking in the work experience section, this can be a great way of getting your personality across and showing the employer what you’re really about.
Just be wary of anything too generic, such as socialising with friends or going to the cinema. Try and think of something specific you can reference and talk about the skills you used throughout – there’s a great example of this in our CV download at the top of the page.
Remember to ask yourself: Will this help me get the job? If not, leave it out. Also, make sure you’re happy to talk more about this during your interview if they ask you about it.
A few final Dos and Don’ts:
1. Always have someone proofread your CV when you’ve completed it – spelling errors are a big no! Employers spend 30 seconds on average scanning a CV, so make sure you don’t give them any reasons to reject you.
2. It’s useful to include whether you have a driving licence and access to a car
3. Try and keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages – but don’t feel like you need to fill 2 pages and at this period it’s more likely to be one page.
1. Include a photo of yourself
2. Include your date of birth – an employer does not need to know your age
3. Try not to be too fancy or too informal. Describe what you can do in a direct, confident way
4. Most importantly of all, don’t lie. If you’re found out, you could lose your job.