So you’ve decided to step into the world of work and try and get a job or apprenticeship - that’s great! But how do you go about writing your first CV? You might think you haven’t got enough to fill a page, but you probably have more to say than you realise. We’ve compiled some handy tips for you to get started and ace that application process.
The purpose of your CV is to summarise yourself to a potential employer, therefore there is certain key information that you need to include. You also want to aim for a structure similar to the following example:
As this is your first CV, you should aim to fill one side of A4 comprehensively, but no more than two pages.
A personal profile is the place to tell the employer who you are and what you’re looking for in no more than four lines.
Clearly and simply state your current situation and what type of work you are seeking. Have you just left school? Are you looking for part-time work? What sector are you applying for? If you can, also include the main reason why you think you’d be great at the job you want. If you’re looking for a retail job and you have strong people skills, say so.
Example: Currently working towards my GCSEs, I am seeking a post-exam apprenticeship in retail where I can showcase my strong people skills and develop my customer service skills.
List your educational achievements, beginning with your most recent qualification. If you don’t have your results yet write down your predicted grade or that it is ‘pending’. As this is your first CV, this section comes before any work experience. Once you have a job or two under your belt, this section will move down further down the page.
Example: Whitchurch High School, Cardiff, September 2011 – June 2018
9 GCSEs including grades A-C in Maths, English, Science, Geography, IT
Work Experience/Skills and Hobbies - You have more experience than you think
This is the important, meaty section of the document and the place to talk about your paper round or those evenings you babysit for your neighbour.
Start by making a separate list of all your achievements: if you were your class representative or a member of the football team, write it all down. You may not realise that these are responsibilities that will showcase transferrable skills. Even if you haven’t had a job before, you most likely have more experience than you think. All those extracurricular activities, voluntary work or school work experience help you develop these transferable skills you can highlight in your CV. Skills such as time management, reliability, communication and people skills are all things employers are looking for in a candidate.
Look at the job description and tailor the information you provide. A CV is all about proof: you need to highlight instances when you demonstrated as many of the required qualities as possible in detail. Use your list of achievements to match your experiences and skills with the job requirements.
Avoid long paragraphs and use short sentences or bullet points to make your CV easy to digest and to highlight key information.
Example: As captain of the school hockey team, I have experience of both leadership and teamwork. This position also demonstrates commitment in my dedication to the training and matches.
When you apply for a job, you will usually be required to supply two references before you can be employed by the company. Typically this will include your last employer, however if you are still at school or haven’t had a job, this can be your personal tutor, teacher or work experience supervisor. Importantly, remember to ask politely before you use someone as a reference.
Be aware that you do not have to put the names and contact details of your references on your CV. You can simply say ‘References available on request.’ This is particularly useful if you’re not sure yet who to put down as a reference as it gives you time to sort it out.
Check Your Spelling!
This last tip is arguably the most important: ensure everything on your first CV is spelt correctly. Employers who have large numbers of applications will see any spelling and grammar mistakes as a way of differentiating between candidates, therefore it is imperative your CV is error-free. Use spelling and grammar checkers or ask someone else to proof-read it for you.
Now you’ve created your first CV, you’re ready to start applying. Check out our wide range of Apprenticeship vacancies with top Welsh employers who are currently recruiting.