Upon leaving education it’s now time to write your very first CV. At this time in your career you are going to find this step the hardest, and with little or no work experience to go by you could struggle to complete the standard two pages. But all is not lost!
Everybody has to start somewhere, and assuming you are applying for entry level positions it’s important to realise that the employer will have realistic expectations. This doesn’t mean to say you should accept your predicament and rush through your application, and there are lots of ways you can demonstrate you are ready for a working environment.
Here are 3 CV tips for school leavers which will help you get lots of interviews.
1. Take on voluntary work
Work experience isn’t always vital to an employer, but it will put you ahead of those that don’t have it – it is that simple. When facing off against lots of other school leavers or even experienced workers, you are going to have to offer something unique. Work experience is hard to come by after leaving education, but there is one sure fire way of getting some – and fast.
Voluntary work is always available, and whether it’s a local charity shop or country park, you should be able to find it quickly. You can also consider volunteering during your studies to get ahead and help bolster your CV.
There is no substitution for work experience, and although you may think the lack of pay sounds unappealing, you have to remember how important and valuable work experience is – not only to your CV but to your own personal development. A working environment is very different from anything else you’ve ever experienced, and there will be lots of challenges yet to come. Those challenges can be met sooner through voluntary work.
To find out what voluntary work is available in your area go to Do-it.
Not convinced? Here are the useful skills gained from volunteering.
2. Develop your soft skills
A soft skill is essentially a personal trait or attribute which is used every single day of our lives. These soft skills are also applied within the workplace, and an employer favours those that have them to a high level. Soft skills like problem solving, working as a team, communicating effectively with co-workers and customers, taking responsibility, punctual, being flexible and pro-active – and so on, are all important to an employer.
As a recent school leaver you are going to need to prove to an employer that you have the relevant soft skills which will help you function effectively in a working environment. This is why voluntary work is so important because you can show easily within your CV how this experience has developed your soft skills. But you can also demonstrate this through your education (see below).
When you write your first CV it’s important to recognise what the employer would want from you. For example, if you were applying for a retail position then you would need to have good communication skills because of interaction with the customers, be able to work well as part of a team, be helpful and friendly, presentable and approachable – to name but a few. Your CV has to focus on these important soft skills so the employer can see you are ready for work.
The interview will also play a huge part in your hiring success; so again, try to get the message across that you are ready for the workplace. The employer will be wary of your lack of experience and will want reassurance you have the foundations already and can learn and train quickly.
To further develop and improve upon your soft skills, please go to SGS.
3. Education is work experience
Your education shouldn’t be dismissed and reduced down to a simple subject and grade on your CV. Instead, you need to pick out all the best parts and use them to your advantage. If we refer back to the soft skills section above we can see how important it is to show that you can function immediately in a working environment – and this is where your education comes in to the picture.
Look back over your projects and assignments for evidence of soft skills. This could be anything from your researching skills to class presentations (public speaking/communication); writing and language skills to punctuality and attendance. Hardly ever missing a day from school, college or education is a great point to consider, because it is often missing from a CV but would be of real interest to an employer. If you had a 99-100% attendance record then clearly you are going to be a reliable and dedicated employee.
Don’t be afraid to go into more detail on your highest academic achievements. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, and the employer will be interested to find out too. Not everything will seem directly relevant to your career, but that doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t fill out your CV with your achievements. The employer is looking for someone who clearly works hard and is dedicated to achieving high results. These are great personal traits to have in the workplace.
Find out more about how to write a CV with no work experience.
Example school leaver CV (download here):