During the summer last year, the Sarah West Recruitment team supported The National Citizen Service’s (NCS) programme, delivering a session to around 250 16 and 17-year-olds on Employability Skills. We covered topics such as how to put a CV together and practical sessions looking at examples of good vs not so good CV’s. We then moved on to cover interview skills.
How to put your first CV together sparked a lot of questions, so here are some of our hints and tips when you're staring at a blank piece of paper, not quite knowing where to start!
Some do’s and don’ts
Keep it simple, easy to read and in sections e.g. your contact details, a short profile, employment history, education and hobbies and interests. There are lots of free templates you can use to help you get started – we think Canva has a great selection! Don’t be afraid of leaving some white spaces, you don’t have to fill a page with words for the sake of it.
Show off your personality
Keep it professional but don’t be afraid to let ‘you’ shine through. A good starting point is to write how you’d speak.
Use a professional font
Our favourites are Calibri or Arial as we find those the easiest to read. Maybe it's just our team, however we're not a big fan of Times New Roman.
One of our pet hates? Seeing the word ‘roll’ instead of ‘role’. We totally get that you can become word-blind so make use of spellcheckers and get someone else to have a read through too.
Hobbies and interests
Make the most of this section as this is what can set you apart from ‘everyone else’. Do you do any voluntary work, are you part of a team, do you do any sports? What’s been your biggest achievement?
No photos please!
Unless you’re applying for a job that’s looking for particular skills e.g. Programming languages, your best bet is to use plain English. Avoid words that the reader potentially won’t understand.
There’s no need to include information that’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for – we’re talking particularly about personal information such as if you’re in a relationship or what pets you have.
Shout about positions of responsibility
Have you been given extra responsibilities at school? Have you been a prefect or helped out with younger people at school? You might not think it’s important to shout them but do!
It might sound obvious but you'll be surprised at how many CVs we get with no email address or phone number which can mean it's pretty tricky to get in touch.
Below is a sample CV we’ve put together – it’s a template adapted from the selection on Canva.