Writing a CV

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Our top tips!

  • Don’t be afraid to sell yourself!
    A CV should not just be a list of things that you have done, but should be a chance for you to sell what you have achieved as part of your experiences and opportunities. Talk yourself up as much as you can!
  • Be clear but concise

    A lot of recruiters reading CVs don’t have ages to read them. Always make sure that the information you provide is clear and concise. This will make it easy to read and ensure that it isn’t too long.

  • Include contact information
    It’s really important to make sure that you include contact information so that anyone reading your CV knows how to get hold of you. An email address and phone number is usually sufficient.

What is a CV?

A CV, also known as a curriculum vitae or resume, is a short document containing a summary of the skills, experience and qualifications you have gained throughout your life so far.

Potential employers may ask you to present your CV if you are applying for a job. If you have a good CV that contains lots of relevant information and experience, the employer is more likely to consider your application and invite you for an interview.

It’s always a great idea to have a CV ready, even if you aren’t looking for a job or any opportunities at the moment. It means that when you start looking for a job, you will be prepared and ready to apply straight away.

It also makes keeping your CV up-to-date really easy: you can add new experiences and remove experiences that aren’t relevant to a particular opportunity rather than having to remember what you need to include each time.

It is important to think about what someone who is reading your CV will really be interested in. A lot of people have loads of experiences that they want to share (especially as they get older), which can make their CV much longer.

Take some time to look through the experiences that you are sharing on your CV and make sure you are only including those that are relevant to the opportunity you are applying for.

What should my CV look like?

CVs are usually one to two pages long, depending on the amount of information you have to include. Following the guidance on this page about the sections and information to include in your CV will help you to make it a suitable length.

Just make sure that it is not longer than two pages – employers often don’t have lots of time to spend reading CVs, so make sure you only include information that is relevant and ensure it is clear and concise.

Once all the information is in the document, you can begin tidying it up by adding or removing relevant information to make it more presentable for the employer.

As a young adult you may not feel you have enough information to fill two pages – if this is the case for you, do not worry. Many people are in the same situation and once you are older and have more experience you will be able to add to this document.

What should I include in my CV?

Starting your CV from scratch can be daunting, but these sections are a good starting point:
Your name and contact information – You should make sure you put this at the top of your CV as it is very important. Including it is straightforward but easy to forget!
A personal statement – Use this as an opportunity to summarise your CV in a couple sentences. You can highlight your key motivations, goals, skills and qualities. 
Education – Provide an overview of the schools you’ve studied at, the courses you took and the grades you achieved. This will give some good talking points for any interview!
Work experience – Add details of any volunteer work, internships, paid jobs or any other work experience that you have done. Don’t worry if you haven’t got any work experience yet; you can add extracurricular activities instead. We all have to start somewhere!
Hobbies and interests – Defining yourself outside of your work experience and career goals helps give employers a sense of who you are and what you enjoy.
References – Usually, providing two to three references is enough. Give their name, email address and their relationship to you (such as teacher, former employer or coach).

How can I make my CV look great?

Choose your font

Make sure you use a professional and clear font. It’s a good idea to use a simple one like Calibri or Times New Roman. The font should be between size 10 and size 12. Make sure you don’t make it too small as the employer may struggle to read it!

Have clear headings

Clear headings are really important as they make your CV clear and easy to read. Good headings to include are: “Personal Statement”, “Education”, “Work Experience” and “Hobbies and Interests”.

Check your grammar

Checking your grammar is important as grammatical errors can make your CV look unprofessional. Check it over at least twice to ensure you haven’t made avoidable mistakes. It’s a good idea to get someone else to check it too.

Sharing your CV

Think about how you want to share your CV and then test different layouts to make it clear. Some people like to share printed copies, so make sure it looks good printed. Others like to email their CV to employers, so make sure you save it as a PDF and that the layout looks good.

How do I write my CV?

Everyone’s CV is different so there isn’t a set way of creating one. However here are a few steps to get you on your way:

Step 1: Put your full name, address and telephone number at the top of the page

This allows employers to see who you are, where you will be travelling from and how to contact you should your application be successful.

Step 2: Tell the employer why you would like to join their business

Make sure you are telling the employer why you want the role you are applying for and what skills you think you have that make you a good fit for the job. You might include some of your hobbies and interests to show more about your character.

Step 3: Add any relevant work experience you have to your CV

The employer will want to know what jobs you have had and what skills you can bring to your new role. Tell the employer how long you worked at each organisation and what job you were doing, and mention they key skills you developed and things you learned.

If you haven’t yet got any work experience then do not worry – not everyone already has experience when they are applying for jobs. Just try to make this clear and express your willingness to learn and progress.

Step 4: Write down a summary of your education to date

Whether you have completed SATs, GCSEs, A Levels or other qualifications, include the courses you took as well as your grades. You do not need to go into great detail, but provide an overview so that the employer will be aware of any relevant subjects you have studied, as well as your English and Math grades.

Step 5: Include a summary of any qualifications you have been able to get to date

These should be kept relevant to the role. For example, someone applying to work in construction might benefit from having a Health and Safety award. If you include a qualification, make sure you include the date you received it as the employer may wish to update this.

Step 6: Put your key knowledge, skills and values into five detailed bullet points

You might want to try looking on the internet for ‘skills a [INSERT JOB TITLE] needs’. You should be able to find websites that tell you the key skills required to perform the job you are applying for. Take some of those and consider things that you’ve done that shows that you think you have that skill or ability. For example, someone applying for a job in restaurant might include ‘customer service’ as one of their skills.

Step 7: Include your references

There are two ways to do this. You can include a blanket statement that says “references available on request” so whoever is reading can ask you for them if they would like to contact some references. Or you can include the details of your references in your CV. If you do this, make sure you include their name, contact details, job title and relationship to you (such as teacher or employer). It is up to you which approach you want to take.

I think I might need some help... what do I do?

If you are thinking about writing your CV and don’t know where to start, or you think you need a little extra support, there are plenty of people you can talk to!

You can also talk to the people you want to include as references to see what they think you could include. 

Get support!
If you think need support, reach out and talk to someone. There will always be someone who can help you out.
Speak to us

Most of our mentors have written a CV for one reason or another, and they may be able to give you some valuable feedback and information from their own experiences. Reach out to our mentors if you need any support!

Speak to a teacher

Your teachers at school are always on hand to help out with things like this. If you are struggling to start writing your CV or are not sure about a particular aspect of it, see whether they can help.

Speak to a careers advisor

Most schools and colleges have a careers advisor available, but if they don’t you might be able to access one through your local council. Their job is to help you out with things like this!