Not sure where to start with your CV?

Not sure where to start with CVs? 5 tips for CV writing

5 tips for CV writing!

A CV provides an overview of a candidate’s education, work experience and skills, and is often your chance to make a first impression with an employer. So, there is no doubt regarding the importance of having a good CV when applying for jobs.

But where do you start? It can be tricky for young people coming out of education to write a CV that stands out among hundreds – if not thousands – of others. Not to worry, Digital Innovators are here to help.

As an 18-year-old who has recently finished education and entered the world of work, I am here to share some of my experiences of how I approached writing CVs – and some top tips with how you can write a great first CV! I also asked a GCSE student what they would like to know about this topic, so with these two things in mind, I will be discussing 5 main areas:  

1: Experience 

When I was at college, I remember lots of students feeling unsure of what to mention in their CV due to having little or no work experience. It’s easy to get your thoughts stuck in the loop of worrying, “How do I get experience, when I need experience to get a job?!” However, you may have much more to include than you think!  

Let’s start with the obvious – grades. It’s a good idea to include all of your grades and qualifications in one section of your CV. This will make it really easy for potential employers to quickly see the all results you have received during your time in education.  

However, grades aren’t the only thing that count towards your experience. You could also talk about extra–curricular activities you have been a part of, maybe you were part of a student society or programme, or perhaps you were a student councillor. It’s easy for students to forget about this aspect of their school careers because it is often assumed that companies only want to know about your grades and business knowledge, but this isn’t always the case! These kinds of things are great experiences to help your CV to stand out as you can show your commitment and dedication, and that you’re able to work with others and manage your time alongside your school timetable.  

A personal example I have is from my CV last year: I was studying A-Levels, and alongside that, I was part of a dance group with my college. This was a really great experience for me to talk about in my CV as I could show recruiters that I have been able to develop skills (such as team work, communication, time management and organisation) outside of a classroom.  

2: Achievements 

Here is your chance to talk about all of the things you may have done or taken part in that will make you stand out. You could include projects or awards, which should be linked to the experience you have. For instance, when talking about a class you did at school or college, you may then go on to discuss achievements as part of that.

This is your opportunity to highlight the skills you have developed through specific experiences – you could mention any commendations you have received as a result of a project or presentation, or maybe this achievement relates to your extracurricular sporting activities such as a football tournament.

3: Skills 

You may not have much (or perhaps any) real-world work experience or industry knowledge yet, but you will definitely have some skills that can be transferred into a working environment, so don’t forget to include these in your CV! 

Have a think about what each of your lessons or courses have taught you. Some examples could include: working in a team or independently, meeting deadlines, effective communication, organisation, presentation skills, etc. (Remember to give specific examples of when you demonstrated these skills) 

At Digital Innovators, we focus on developing these transferrable skills in young people as these are the skills that employers tell us they want to see in their applicants! It’s great to cite your academic achievements, but it is these interpersonal, workplace skills which are essential to employers, so that’s what we teach on the Digital Innovators Skills Programme.

The average employer spends between 10-30 seconds looking at a CV. How will you make yours stand out?

Similar to grouping all of your grades together, having a list of your main skills makes it easy for the recruiter to see how you’re suitable for the role, team, and company.

Make it easy for them pick out the important information! CVs that are just full of big paragraphs of text are not likely to be read properly. So, ensure that your amazing achievements and skills aren’t missed.  

4: Format 

This leads us nicely into how to format an eye-catching CV. The layout of your CV is very important, and this is sometimes the area people make mistakes with, which could cost them a job opportunity. So, here’s a few things you need to know about formatting your CV: 

  • Font – you should use a clear font that’s easy to read and of an appropriate size.  
  • Length – I have found that the most appropriate length for a CV is a maximum of 2 pages (or 2 sides of A4). This is really important to remember, because around half of all CVs that are longer than 2 pages are discarded by recruiters!  
  • Organisation – one of common mistakes people make when writing their CV is writing massive paragraphs. Bullet pointing is a much better method, making it easier to pick out key information.
  • Contact details – including your contact details so that it’s easy to get back in touch with you, but make sure your email address is professional sounding.
  • Chronological order – put your academic, professional and extracurricular experience in chronological order. Note – you don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done in your CV, keep it relevant to the job you’re applying for!

5: Submitting applications 

Finally, let’s talk about tailoring your CV for different roles you may apply for. After reading a job description or advert, you can ensure you include clear examples in your CV that link to the responsibilities and desirable criteria for the new role. You could use language (but not whole sentences) from the job criteria listed by the organisation, so that employers know that you would be a good fit for the position and have read the job description thoroughly.  

My top tip is to keep a record of different versions of your CV you have sent out for different job applications, and work from these for new applications – making sure you read it through thoroughly before submitting.

So, there you have it! Hannah’s top tips for writing CVs…

If you would like some more help writing your CV, check out our CV guide on our Downloadable Resource Hub.

If it’s help with what to put on your CV you’re looking for, check out the Digital Innovators Skills Programme. Through a combination of skills training and an 8-week work experience placement with leading employers, our students have been able to make their CV stand out and even land a job! Read Unnati’s story here.

This article was written by Hannah - Business Development Administrator

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