Opinion

CV tips for school and college leavers

Congratulations to everyone who has received their A Level or GCSE results in the last couple of weeks. For those now looking to get a foot on the career ladder, we’ve put together some top tips for writing your first CV.

There’s an awful lot of advice out there about things to include, and what to avoid, when writing a CV and we’ve summarised these in a simple, handy guide. We’ve also made a CV template available, which will help you structure and format your CV in a clear and concise way.

If you have just left school or college, knowing what to include when writing a CV for the first time can be a challenge, so we’ve also compiled some extra tips to help those looking to secure their first ever career role.  

1. Make your opening profile stand out

Including an opening profile, summarising your key experiences, achievements and aspirations is a great opportunity to make sure the important information is set out immediately. Make sure you tailor this to highlight anything relevant to the role you are applying for and include the reason why you would like to work in this type of industry. It’s not just employment experience which counts. What relevant subjects did you excel in at school? Are there any personal hobbies or activities which show your suitability? Have your teachers praised your approach to work or studying?  

2. Education is about more than just the grades

At this stage in your career it makes sense to list your academic achievements first, as this is predominately what is going to sell you. Set out your education in reverse chronological order with your most recent qualifications first. Don’t feel you have to list every exam you’ve taken, but do include those which are most relevant or impressive for the role you are applying for. You can then use the extra space to include a short summary of what you most enjoyed about the subject, details of any key projects completed and examples of any extra skills it has helped you to develop e.g. leadership, presenting, teamwork or organisation.

3. All work experience counts

Any work experience, however brief, is relevant when it comes to writing your first CV. Employers are keen to see evidence of direct experience within the world of work, in whatever shape or form. Don’t dismiss something because it was only a day’s work experience, or a job which only took up a couple of hours a week. Anything which shows you’ve already developed a work ethic, or commitment to learning new skills, should always be included at this stage.

4. IT skills are a key selling point 

Using computers and social media may seem like a simple, every-day part of life to you, but these are skills which employers really value. Make sure you highlight the computer packages you are experienced in using as part of your personal statement, education qualifications, and interests and hobbies if appropriate. Don’t be afraid to include details of your social media accounts such as Twitter if you are confident they are a positive reflection of you. It’s becoming increasingly common for employers to search for potential employees online, so including this information makes it easier for them to find you.

5. Hobbies and interests

A hobbies and interests section is optional on a CV. However, if you lack any notable work experience, they can be a great way of getting your personality across. If you have an interest which backs up your reasons for applying for a role, make sure you include it. But don’t just write that you are enthusiastic about something. Demonstrate through examples and supporting details, how it has provided you with knowledge, skills, experience or simply the determination to complete a project or achieve a goal.

Good luck to everyone currently applying for roles. And don’t forget our expert team can provide additional help, advice and access to jobs currently being promoted. Get in touch with your local Pure office for more information.