If it’s finally time to start writing your first CV, you may be left wondering what to include. Your CV may feel like one of the most important things in the world right now, so it’s important to take your time and create something you are proud of. You need to have a fresh, well written CV in order to start applying for jobs, even if you feel like you don’t have experience to share, it is crucial that you have one ready to show any potential employers.
When you write a CV for an entry position, it is going to be more general than a CV targeted for a higher-level position. You are at the beginning of your career, so the employer shouldn’t expect you to have loads of relevant work experience, it’s just not going to happen. However, your CV should be well presented, and it would be a good idea to have it split into different sections. This will make your CV easy to read and will hopefully give the employer all the information they need about you.
Where do I start?
Before you begin writing your CV, it can be a good idea to start making a list of all the experience you do have, no matter what kind. When professionals in their early career sit down to write their first CV, it is often the lack of experience that worries them. However, you probably have more valuable experience than you thought.
- Volunteering experience
- Student activities
- Important class projects and contributions
- Part-time work
All the above and anything else you may think of, can be used as work experience on your CV. Just because you may have not worked the same kind of professional environment as the job you are applying for, does not mean that this experience hasn’t given you valuable and transferable skills. Try and take the time to think about what you did with these opportunities. If you took part in an important class project, how can you link this to the job you are applying for? Think about what the job description asks of you and see if you can link the two. Also, taking part in volunteering activities shows that you are an active part of your community, a valued skill. Try and not to sell yourself short and believe in the skills you have learnt over your time in education.
It is also important to make sure you are noting down any past accomplishments that you think can enhance your CV. Writing a CV is not the right time to be modest, really try and sell yourself and talk about your achievements, if not now, when? This can be anything from the grades you achieved to being awarded with a student rep job. Try and be creative and think about all the positive things you have accomplished so far and see how they can be included on your CV.
Gather your references
Most people will only provide references on request, but it is still good to have a list prepared and ready to be send when an employer asks for it. References without professional experience can be tricky sometimes and you may not always know who to ask. Try and get someone who knows your ability and can talk about why you would make a good employee. However, try and steer clear of putting down relatives as references. Popular choices for references can include:
- Friends and classmates
- Teachers and tutors
- Coaches or teammates
Firstly, it’s always best to ask if they can be a reference before you use their details and secondly, let them know when they may be contacted by a potential employer. This way they don’t get caught off guard and they can prepare what they may say.
Organising your CV
It’s always best to break your CV down into sections. This can sometimes make your CV easier to edit when the time comes, or if you are tailoring your CV to each role you apply for. You can simply edit one section and the rest may stay the same. Its useful for both convenience and layout purposes. Some sections you may want to include are:
Personal details – This section of your CV should be at the top. It should include the basic elements of a CV that everyone expects to see. This includes your name and contact details, as well as your personal statement. This needs to be at the beginning of your CV so you can persuade the employer to carry on reading. Let them know that you are interested in the role they are advertising and persuade them to read the rest.
Work experience – As previously discussed, this can include anything that you think may be of importance to the role. Something that you spent time on and gained some valuable skills from. Even if this is part-time work, make sure you are including this. You can still get a reference from your hiring manager and no matter what the role, there is always something you would have learnt from working there.
Academic background – For some job roles, academic background is important. Make sure you are making it clear whether you went to university, had an apprenticeship or want to apply for an apprenticeship scheme. Your background can be a good way to show this, as well as including a few sentences in your personal statement. Grades are not necessarily important but if you wish to add them in, or a specific employer has asked for them, add them into this section.