If you have decided that university isn’t for you, or you would rather go straight into the world of work, then you may be looking at a school leaver scheme. Regardless of what job you are applying for, the chances are you will have to put together a CV.

Writing a CV is a standard part of the job application process, and you will probably have to write a few CV’s throughout your career. Your CV is your first impression to the recruiter and is the first opportunity you have to prove that you are the right candidate for the role and is the difference between landing that all important interview, or not.

However, writing a CV can be daunting, we know that. And it can be even more daunting as a school leaver with very little experience of the world of work, which is why we are going to share some of our CV tips for School Leavers.

What should I include in my CV?

As a school leaver, the chances are you won’t have a huge amount of work experience. Therefore, the focus of your CV will be slightly different to that of someone who has worked for a decade. Ideally, your CV should have the following layout:

  • Personal details
  • Education and qualifications
  • Work experience
  • Alternative experience
  • Passions and interests

Education and qualifications

As you don’t have that much work experience, your education and qualifications should be at the forefront of your CV.

Here you have the opportunity to highlight the qualifications you have achieved and any specific accomplishments from your educational career. You should also mention any projects you worked on or coursework that you completed that could highlight your suitability for the job.

You should also draw upon the skills you acquired at school, such as working well under pressure or good time management skills, and explain how you will transfer these skills from an educational to working environment.

Make sure you highlight your education in all aspects of your CV, including your personal profile, as your education and qualifications should be the main focus.

Work experience

While you might not have a huge amount of relevant work experience, any work experience that you do have should be mentioned here.

If you have spent some time doing specific work experience, such as spending a few days at a local accountancy firm, for example, then you should focus on this. Talk about what you did during your time there, what you learnt and what skills you brought away with you. You should also talk about what interested you the most and what you would like to explore in more detail.

If you have had a part-time job, then you should also mention this here. While it might not seem it at first, there are many skills that you learn from a weekend job that can be useful in your School Leaver scheme. For example, dealing with customers requires a high level of communication skills and these skills will come in handy when talking to clients as a trainee accountant. If you have carried out a stock take, or cashed up at the end of the day, then this gives you valuable experience in auditing and taking financial responsibility.

Alternative experience

If you haven’t had any particularly relevant work experience, or even if you have, it is worth looking at other experience that might be of interest to the recruiter.

Outline any extra roles you may have taken on at school, such as being a Prefect or Captain of a club. Talk about your additional responsibilities and the skills you gained from that. For example, the ability to juggle your studies with being a Prefect shows that you have good time management skills. If you are Captain of a club then you may have had to organise events to raise money or managed a team, giving you a great opportunity to develop your management and organisation skills.

You should also mention any volunteering that you do here. This not only highlights any skills that you may have gained but also shows that you have interests outside of school and your future career. It also shows that you are committed to long term projects and want to give something back to the community.

You should keep referring back to how the skills you have learnt can be transferred into the job you are applying for.

Passions and interests

Talking about alternative work experience goes nicely into talking about your passions and interests. While recruiters want to know about what you can bring to the company in terms of skill and experience, they also want to know about you as a person. They want to see themselves working alongside you, and this section of your CV shows that you have a life outside of school and work.

Spend this section of your CV talking about any sports teams you may be a part of or extra-curricular clubs you are a member of.  You should still relate these back to the job description by talking about the skills you have learnt such as team work, project management or organisation skills.

Top CV tips

Now you know how to layout your CV, here are some top tips you might want to keep in mind:

  • Don’t waffle
    • Your CV should be no longer than two pages and it is more likely to be one page at this stage. Keep it concise and to the point, recruiters are busy people!
  • Don’t be informal
    • Use a formal, yet direct and concise tone. Go easy on the thesaurus and make sure you use a professional font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Don’t lie
    • You will get found out and you’ll either leave the interview embarrassed or potentially lose your job
  • Proof read!
    • Check your spelling and grammar. Get someone else to read your CV and even try reading it aloud to ensure that it flows nicely. If you say you have great attention to detail and there’s a spelling mistake in the first sentence then your CV will go straight in the bin.

Hopefully this has given you some idea of how you should layout your CV as a School Leaver. The main thing to remember is to keep referring back to the job description and how the skills you have acquired throughout your education and any other experience can transfer into the workplace.

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