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Help & Guidance - 07 06 2022

How to Write a CV

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Your CV is one of the best ways of advertising yourself to an employer. However, without a long history of work, you may be racking your brains with what to fill it with.

I’ve never written a CV, where do I start?

Don’t fret, we’re here to help guide you through it.

Your CV gives you the chance to show that you are skilled, motivated and ready for work, as well as explaining what sets you apart from the rest, all in a page or two.

Over the next couple of pages we will outline what goes into a CV, and suggest ideas for how you can adjust it to jobs and apprenticeships, even without relevant experience.

Be aware that you will need to adapt your CV for each job, keeping in mind the company and the job description. But in the end, what will make your CV stand out is up to you: your skills, your interests, and your experiences.

Facts to keep in mind when writing your CV

  • The average time recruiters take to look at your CV is 6 seconds, so make every word count!
  • Just 1 spelling or grammar mistake could have your CV thrown away.
  • There is an 88% rejection rate of CVs that include photos (unless you’re in an industry that demands it, like film or modelling).
  • 43% of people lie in their CVs to land a job. If the lie is discovered, you could miss out on an excellent opportunity or be fired. It isn’t worth it!
  • 76% of CVs are ignored if the email address is deemed ‘inappropriate’. It takes just 5 minutes to set up a professional sounding email address!
  • Over 70% of CVs are missing vital information and, as a result, are discarded by an employer.

What goes into your CV?

Personal details

Make sure you provide your name, email address, and telephone number at the top of your CV, so that you’ll know as soon as possible whether you’ve scored an interview or not.

You should put in your address too, so the employer will know whether you live locally. Further information, such as a photograph or your National Insurance number, is not needed. Don’t fill your CV with useless information – make every sentence count!

Personal profile

This will be a short paragraph giving a brief introduction of yourself and your aspirations. As wonderful as you are, this shouldn’t be a novel, as the CV should be no more than 2 pages.

The personal profile should be adapted depending on the job, so it would be wise to read the job description again and look at the list of skills that the employer is seeking. Anybody can say they are ‘hard working’, ‘reliable’, and ‘friendly,’ but a personal profile gives you the chance to show some proof.

For example, if you are going to be applying for a social media apprenticeship, this is your chance to show that you have an interest in the online world. You can argue that running a website has made you punctual, organised, and has given you web design skills.

This is a chance to show how much desire and passion you have for the role, and why you are applying for it in the first place. Include a sentence or two on why the role and company interests you, and why you’d be a great fit. Perhaps you have been following the company for years, or you’re motivated by the fact that they are growing. Mention it here – employers love to see that you’ve done your research.

Education

This is where you list the schools you have attended and your grades, putting your most recent school and grades first. Don’t worry about adding anything earlier than your GCSE’s.

Remember, high grades don’t guarantee the job you’ve applied for. Or even an interview. Whatever your grades, they’re only a small part in the bigger picture. So make sure you bring your personality and character to the table in the other parts of your CV.

Work experience

In this section, add any paid or unpaid work experience, and include any voluntary work. Like your education, you will need to list your work history from your most recent to your earliest experiences of work. For each job, try to write a short sentence explaining some of the skills you gained, like this:

McDonalds (Crew Member)

“I learned many life skills as a crew member, including time management and team work (with clear communication across the restaurant). I listened well to instructions, and developed positive people skills in order to retain customers.”

For those that have not yet had much work experience, try and remember a time you were part of something that developed your skills, even if you worked at the till at the corner shop during the summer. A job at a shop is a massive bargaining chip: it shows that you are reliable, can be trusted to operate technology, and can handle money well.

Key Skills

The ‘key skills’ section is important to add if you have no work experience, but is also something that can be added if you do. It gives the employer an idea on what expertise you can offer, and directly responds to the job description. Remember to be specific, mentioning times that you’ve shown these skills – either inside or outside of a professional environment. For example:

Communication skills:

  • “I took part in the school drama club, where I helped arrange events and discussed ideas for plays.”
  • “I took part in weekly school prefect meetings, discussing how to improve aspects of the school for pupils.”

 

Organisational skills:

  • “I assisted in organising the school Christmas ball event for two years, including negotiating and booking venues.”
  • “I organised five-a-side football matches every Wednesday with people from inside and outside of school.”

 

Although you want to try and keep this section brief and bullet-pointed, adding in little details such as these will give your CV personality – which potential employers will love.

Interests and Extracurricular activities

This is where you’ll add features that other candidates may not have. Know how to speak Russian? Put it here. Hiked long and hard for a Duke of Edinburgh award? In it goes.

Again, the secret is to be specific about your interests. For example, don’t just write ‘playing rugby’ – instead, mention something like: ‘I played for my school rugby team, where I developed teamwork and leadership skills within a group.’

This not only shows what you do and what you enjoy, but how you learned from it and the skills you gained.

Life experiences and extracurricular activities can speak volumes about your character and your skills. You can expect that many other applicants would have already written interests such as movies, art, and travel. Be original and write something that will grab the employer’s attention, or even something that could start a conversation in an interview.

  • Instead of saying you like ‘movies’ you could mention that you love Martin Scorsese classics.
  • Instead of just ‘travel’ you could write that you love travelling to Barcelona, with its breathtaking architecture and sunny climate.

 

Being specific in your interests will make you stand out, and can create a bond with your employer who may also have these interests in common.

References

To finish off your CV, you can write ‘References available upon request’, indicating that you have got hold of two or three reliable people that can put a good word in for you.

However, these shouldn’t be family members, but rather people who have seen you in a professional or educational environment, such as teachers, previous employers, or your head of year.

Make sure to check with them that they are happy to give a reference, and for you to share their contact information. The employer can then speak to them, and hopefully receive a glowing recommendation highlighting your working potential.

An Example Job description

Customer Service Apprentice needed:

The Cheerful Company Ltd are on the lookout for a positive, flexible individual to undertake a 12 month Level 2 Customer Service Apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship will involve tasks such as:

  • Making and receiving calls from current and potential clients
  • Multi-tasking
  • Understanding different types of software
  • Working in a team to ensure customer enquiries are dealt with in a timely manner
  • A positive attitude

 

The ideal candidate will be punctual and eager to learn. You should be organised and a good multi-tasker, as the job will involve using technical IT systems while speaking to customers. You should be a good communicator in person and over the telephone, and will be able to communicate with clarity and efficiency with your colleagues.

Apprenticeships

Take a look!