In the world of work, you will no doubt be competing against other school leavers in a similar situation to yourself, as well as people with more experience under their belt. Don’t fret, though, we have some tips to help you with that first step towards your dream career.
As someone who has recently left school, your biggest problem will probably be thinking of experiences to pad out your CV with demonstrable skills and attributes, since it is likely your work experience will either be limited or non-existent.
Think about clubs you have been part of, or hobbies you may have. List the skills you have gained through extracurricular activities and highlight their value in the role you are applying for. For example, if you are aiming to enter the world of digital marketing, having some experience running a digital platform would demonstrate your passion for the field and give the recruiter an online portfolio of your talent!
Do you have volunteering experience? Add this to your CV – just because you weren’t paid, doesn’t mean you haven’t gained any skills from it. Have you helped a relative with their business? Volunteered at a charity event? Taken part in fundraisers? All of these experiences prove you are driven, motivated, and eager to learn.
Your CV needs to be easy to read and understand – triple check your spelling and grammar, as this will put any hiring manager or recruiter off immediately. Though there is no one right way to write a CV, there are standard headings that you may find useful when categorising yourself and your experiences.
Headings are typically found to be the following:
Personal statement – write a short opening sentence introducing yourself and your goals. For example, “I am a hardworking, self-motivated individual with an exemplary academic record eager to progress in the finance industry”.
Education – this is an essential part of your CV. Here you can write all of the qualifications you achieved at school, as well as any particular skills you may have also gained.
Work experience – write all of the work and volunteering experience you have here. Make sure you write down the dates you started/finished each experience as well as your job title and company you worked for. A brief description of your responsibilities is key; make them relevant to the job description of the role you are applying for.
Skills/personal development – have you taken any online courses? Ran any clubs or extracurriculars? Started your own blog? Here’s where you can show off your skills and motivations. Make sure you relate each experience and skill you have to the job you want to apply for. If they are looking for someone with great time management, you can demonstrate your aptitude through describing a part-time job or responsibility that you excelled in alongside your studies.
Furthermore, your CV must reflect the position you are applying for. While it’s useful to have one “base” CV, employers appreciate CVs that have been tailored to the job description of the role you are applying for. Are they looking for specific qualities? How can you demonstrate them clearly in your CV?
You can work every section of your CV into a selling point for yourself by constantly backing up each skill with a demonstrable experience. If your CV says you have great communication and interpersonal skills, prove it.
It’s also worth remembering to update your CV as you enter new job roles or volunteering opportunities – don’t try to remember each valuable task you performed after the job has ended, update your CV as you work at new roles. Every time you are given a new responsibility or task, add it to your CV.
If you can’t remember the tasks you performed at a previous job, try and find the job description, which will detail each task you were expected implement.
Still struggling on where to start? Fear not, we have a great CV tips guide for you to freely download here.