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Starting with a CV

“I’ve just turned 16 and am now looking for my first job. I don’t have a CV and wondered if any of you could give me some useful tips and advice. As I don’t have any work experience, what should I put in my CV and what headings should I put down?”

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  • Denis

    If you have looked at books, etc., on CV design, you have probably found that they seem to be modelled on thirty-somethings with a degree, a progressive career to date, and seeking their next jump up the ladder. Nevetherless, you can use these as a model of sorts, and put down what applies to you.
    A prospective employer would not expect a school leaver to have a career history, and your CV can be quite short – keep it to one page.
    Start with your name and what you are looking for as a career. If you are not sure and have different ideas in mind, no matter, have more than one CV and use as appropriate for each application.
    Have you done any type of work at all, e.g. had a paper round, gardening job, helped out in a charity shop or anything like that? This is worth mentioning, and if anyone connected with these activities can give you a reference, so much the better. Don’t name references on the CV, however; use them as appropriate if an employer expresses interest.
    Since you have just left school, your school record will be important so list exam results, achieved or expected.
    Opinions vary about whether hobbies and other interests should be shown on a CV. My view is that they can tell the interviewer a little more about you and maybe form part of conversation to “break the ice” early in the interview. Also, since you have little in the way of a career to talk about, it can support your application if your hobby is related to what you are applying for. For instance, if you were applying for a job in a music store, your interests and achievements in music should be mentioned. Put this part towards the end of the CV.
    Good luck! In a few years’ time the problem will be what to leave out to keep the CV down to size!

  • James Chatterley

    Hi there,
    Most employers who are considering school-leavers of your age won’t worry about lack of experience, so don’t worry about not having a long “Professional Experience” section. The whole point of a CV is to show an employer why a candidate is good for the job and get them to interview stage. Usually this is from their experience to date, but employers will not have the same expectations from you for an entry level job.
    Therefore, it is a good idea to create a CV for each role you are applying for – tweaking it to match the job description you have as best you can. Try to make it as relevant as possible to the industry you are trying to get into.
    Suggested Headings:
    * Contact Information – eg name, address, mobile, email etc.
    * Personal Information – eg Date of birth, nationality, gender etc
    * Summary / Objective – state cleary what it is you want and why you are good for it.
    * Education – include name of school, dates attended and exams taken (with grades).
    * Experience – include any work you may have done in your spare time/weekends which show you are willing.
    * Interests – eg include a bit about your self and try and let your prospective emplyer know how interesting you are and how what you do in your spare time might affect your choice of work… eg if going for a cooks job, show you really enjoy cooking in your spare time.
    * References – might include a teacher and an old boss from spare time work.
    Good luck!

  • steve

    Have you considered going to college, if you do a course in your chosen career ypu will get experience in placements which you can put in a cv. For example if you do a hairdressing course you will have a placements in a real hair salon. Most college courses are free for under 19′s as well.
    Also look out for trainee job offers where they want school leavers with the intent of training them up.
    Hope that helps
    Good luck

  • Paul Andrews

    I agree with the previous comments, especially about tailoring your CV to the job you are applying for. Emphasise hobbies / interests / experiences that are relevant to the work you will be doing.
    Also important is the covering letter that accompanies your CV. This is the place where you can say why you want the job, why you want to work for that particular company and what you could offer the employer. These are all questions that are likely to come up at an interview.
    The covering letter is an opportunity to sell yourself so that you ensure you get an interview.
    Good luck with the job hunting.

  • enson williams

    Well all you do is talk the truth about yourself ,
    say who you are and what you can do and there must be someone who is iterested in you and you’ll be fine.

  • Ray

    Hey Katy
    why don’t you put down all your personal info like date of birth, were you live, your number, your education, your intrests. The catogerys can be:
    1. Personal info-this contains name, birthdate etc.
    2. Education- were you go to school.
    3. Address and contact detail-address, Mobile num, e-mail etc. 4.general info- Your hobbies and interests.
    5. Expieriance- you could put down that you do not have any expierianc yet but are very hard working and willing to go through any training you have to, that type of stuff.

  • david mckay

    You should show that you are commited to any job that you apply for. You should explain what you want to start doing and where you would like to be in the future. Any interset in higher education will help.

  • Asim

    Write whatever is true. Try to make your style rather to rewrite. It will help you.

  • Peter Hartley

    I agree completely with what Denis and James have written. As someone who has had to be interviewed (at the start of my career and later) I have been in your position like most people: having had a great deal of experience in interviewing, I always look for some signs of initiative in a Candidate’s CV. Have you any kind of work experience (even if it was simply voluntary, or helping someone out) ?
    You would do well to remember some “Golden Rules” of CVs:
    1. NEVER apologise for not having done something which you think you might have been expected to have done … a decent Employer doesn’t want excuses.
    2. Present your strong points and show your willingness/intention to develop … a decent Employer wants to know what you CAN do, not what you can’t do, and a ‘go-getter’ is more use than a ‘wait to be told’ Employee.
    3. Carefully inject some humour in your CV – not too much, but enough to make your CV interesting to read (and memorable) … a decent Employer knows that the Character of an Applicant matters a great deal.
    “Remember the Past, Fondly: Enjoy the Present, Happily: Anticipate the Future with Enthusiasm.”

  • Stephanie

    Have you done any babysitting (even for siblings/family members), odd jobs for neighbors (even watering the plants when they go on holiday), taken part or organized school clubs, done any volunteering? Any of these can go into the “experience” section James Chatterley mentioned…

  • Mark

    Concentrate on what you do in you spare time, as this will give you something to talk about.
    If you have done any voluntary work, perhaps as part of a youth group or Duke of Edinbughs’s award, then put that on your CV.
    If you haven’t then consider doing something like the Award, it will give you some experience you can put on your CV.

  • Pauline

    Make sure you put your personal details on your cv first, then add a brief description about yourself and what you are looking for, for example, a challenging role, company where you can progress and continue to learn new skills and finally any work experience (poss work expeience through school). Good Luck

  • Zebedeerox

    Hi, Katy.
    I am one of those 30-somethings refered to in the first post, and have composed many a CV in my time. Of which, I have ‘tailored’ many in the past to suit specific applications.
    This may well lead to an interview, but for the main, interviewers are not blind. When you get to an interview, it will stand out a mile if what’s coming out of your mouth bears little or no resemblance to the document that’s secured you the meeting in the first place.
    Be honest, above all else. Not only will your CV then stand up in your interview, but you stand more chance of eventually getting a start on the career that’s suitable/applicable to you, leading to much more satisfaction years down the line.
    And be true to yourself. Don’t go in for a job just for the sake of it. Outline the fields you really want to try and start looking there first.
    At 16, if you’re prepared to carry on your education through day release or evening classes, then say so – out loud. If not, then don’t. Simple.
    Good luck, and I hope you get a start to your working life that serves well for the future!

  • Rebekah

    CVs are always tricky to start. James’ suggested layout is spot on and it is vital to tweak to the job description as he rightly says. Also, experience can come from anyway: a youth group (demonstrate team working), owning a bank account (organisation), helping a parent with house duties (responsible / flexible / able to follow instruction), surfing on the web (able to research / use a computer).
    Couple of extra pointers:
    - no more than two pages (this may need go to 3 when you have five or more years experience).
    - place your full name on each page and have page numbers.
    - a clear layout is essential, not too wordy. Bullet points are fine, but potentially extend to demonstrate the relevance of the point you have listed
    - a long list is hard to read quickly, use line breaks and others ways to make the important easy on the eye (underlines) – the employer is likely to have many CVs to sift though
    -IMPORTANT: you have on average 4-6 seconds to make your first impression, make your key skills that are relevant to the post obvious (in bold)
    -references do not have to be stated on your CV (unless specifically requested), although you should in place state ‘References available on request’ – it depends on the space you have available.
    - Continually update you CV: its a diary of your employment and personal development (never delete old CVs, you may wish to refer back to them if you change career direction)
    I know you’ve asked about CVs, but that’s only half the work. The interview needs equal preparation:
    - if you get an interview the employer thinks you are capable of doing the job. The interview is just to confirm that and find any additional benefits you can provide to seal the deal. Offer one or more benefits of employing you that you haven’t stated on your CV (but keep essential information on the CV)
    - it’s very common to be asked what you strengths and weaknesses are: every one has them – the employer just wants to see how you respond. Be as confident about your ‘weaknesses’ (or areas for development) as you are with your strengths.
    -EVERYONE gets nervous, if you seize up and can’t answer a question don’t worry – ask if you can move on and come back to it (this show proactiveness and a good handle of nerve).
    -consider that you are at the interview because you want to see if you want to work with that employer, you have as much right to ask them questions as they have to ask you. Sometimes you will both come away thinking it’s not the right place for you (that’s normal too: expect 1 interview for every 10 applications and 1 offer every 5 interviews – you’ll be doing really well if your odds work out better than this)
    Finally, go into the interview believing you are the right person for the job – this will make you feel really confident and will come across in your body language.
    Go get ‘um :-)

  • Flathead

    As soon as you were born you had the start of a CV, i.e. An experience you can tell. OK your MUM and Dad can fill in the details, but its unique to you. Expressing HOW you do/did something is as good as WHAT and WHO for. So as Zeb states be honest, an interviewer loves to trip you up and then your out. Don’t make anything up that you can’t resite with your friends. Always know your goals, short term ones are best as an employer wants to results, not dreams.
    Good luck.

  • omotayo falodun

    You don’t have a problem at your age, it just an adventure. Your CV is blank as expected. So just walk into any company/organisation of your choice and make your request. Surely with your age you can be fixed in to start from somewhere as first experience. Goodluck. Note: Why not further your Education?

  • svetlana

    You have the same problem I have, I am Svetlana, I am 27 and still looking for my first job, i still call c.v’s a resume and wear pencil skirts for interview. But I found everyone has a basic c.v at very least. May i suggest you write down all of your interests hobbies and other activities, and if you have a pc with word, look at the resume wizard and play with the wording of all your activities. Include school as that is still some experence of routine and a form of work, if you like say for instance cycling then that tells employers you are active. and so on, you have a c.v, just no employment experience yet, don’t give up and keep your chin up luv.

  • Jennifer

    HI Katy,
    I would say that what employers want to know is what skills you have which would make you a good employee. This can be shown by the actual work experience you have, but any life experience can be shown as supplying transferable skills relevant for working life.
    - If you have babysat, you show that you are responsible and trustworthy, and also that you can potentially deal with stressful situations
    - If you were in some kind of club where you helped organise trips, bring and buy sales etc. – this shows that you can organise, take on responsibility
    - Any special projects which you were involved with at school will show what you are interested in and you can mention special skills you learned through those activities
    Don’t underestimate the power of contacts – if you have any freinds, relatives or aquaintances who might be able to get you in the door somewhere, this often helps a lot mosre than applying for a job without any experience where you are an anonymous person. And once you have got your first job, then you can always build on that in the future.
    Good luck!

  • michelle jones

    Hi Katy
    Id put on your cv would like a job with training and to gain some qualifications you are only young yet so dont worry you have years to get experience.

  • Bob

    The key to all CVs is to get the readers attention and to target it towards the job you are trying to get. The key aspect is getting yourself organised. Do not be put off by having quite a few CVs written in different styles targeting the specific jobs you are looking for. Keep records of to who and what you send. Writing the CVs and covering letters is like a job on its own. Always put a covering letter and try to send it to a named person eg the HR contact or manager of the section department you would like to work at. Use all the resources available to yourself eg computer , internet , library , friends , family. Your CV will probably represent your school experiences responsibilities , exams and achievements. Dont forget to add outside activities. There is lots of good written professional advice on the Do’s and Dont’s for CVs -read and follow. Dont forget the CV is just the first stage. You also need the interview. Do not be put off by negatives. Use your family and friend network for support , advice and perhaps that first job on recommendation. Push hard enougth at a door and it will open. You have taken the first step by putting your question on the Jobsite.

  • Roy

    Your CV should be a summary of who you are and what you have achieved. A good set up would be:
    Personal Details: Name, address, telephone numbers, email address (Date of Birth is no longer essential)
    Qualifications: Include courses, which have not resulted in a certificate. This should cover all your training. Include 1 day courses as well.
    Work experience: Although you haven’t had a job, you may still have work experience. This could be voluntary work, work placement through school, babysitting, paper round, etc.
    Personal Profile: give a summary of skills, which could be useful in work. When you have worked in a team (could be sport), include how you communicate within the team, planning, organisation, etc. Think around these skills and explain them in terms of what you have achieved. Good achievements to mention are sports, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Scouts, Guides, Cadets, etc. Any activities, which you have been involved in may be of use.
    References: It is better to mention these. You need two. If you just put available on request, it doesn’t mean you have two references. So think who to use first. Ideally, you need at least one who can mention your work: This could be an employer or a teacher.

  • laura m

    Are there any legal repercussions if I sign a contract of employment with a new employer but then decide to stay with my current employer?

  • Joe

    Hi Laura
    Once you sign in writing you are legally contracted to the new company. However, if you informally make a representation to the new company to say that you have changed your mind and you are staying with your present employer, usually they will relent. The reason for this is twofold:
    - no employer wants an employee who is not really convinced they want to work for a company before they even start
    - if the reason is that they are staying with their present employer (and not going to a competitor), usually a bit of common sense takes precedence and they leave it there.
    In certain circumstances (if they have waited for a period of gardening leave of three months for instance) then there may be a different interpretation as the employer will have incurred costs waiting for the new employee when they could have employed an alternative person.
    In theory they could take the individual to court to force them to honour the written contract. They may try to “lean” on Laura to make her come but it would be ill advised (from an employer’s point of view).
    Certainly in the last year there are more and more cases of individuals not turning up or not honouring contracts after accepting. Most employers let it go but there is a chance Laura could be unlucky… It might be worth speaking to ACAS as they could recommend the best course of action, as they are very experienced (free!) and have an unbiased view on such issues or 08457 47 47 47.
    Hope this helps

  • Russ

    I’m now writing my CV to get a short term job for when I leave school. Can you give me some headings and details on a CV model so i dont miss anything out?
    Thank you

  • Vicky

    Hi Russ,
    As you dont have any work experience yet I would focus on your talents at school, it’s your chance to tell the employer more about you.
    Headings to think about:
    1. Personal info-this contains name, contact details – as they will want to contact you by phone or email once they have read your CV
    2. Describe yourself in a couple of sentences eg “I will soon be finishing school and want to start my career. I’m hardworking, quick to learn, I enjoy working as part of a team…blablabla
    3. Education- were you go to school. and your grades/expected grades
    4. Skills/experience
    This is your chance to show off a bit. If you have computer skills list these, are you good at maths? if you like art and drama you can draw on your creative skills
    If you have ever done presentations to your class you can talk about your communication skills.
    4.Your hobbies and interests.
    Where you a member of any clubs – scouts, football? all things like this show you are a good team player who can transfer these skills into the workplace
    Did you do anything out of school such as Duke Of Edinburugh award, or the Young Enterprise awards any voluntary work or hobbies you have.
    Hope that helps

  • Russ

    Thanks Vicky
    Much appreciated

  • hemen parekh

    Text resumes will be around for a long time. Because everyone can type.

    But everyone cannot write a story or a poem.

    So, there will also be a demand for expert / professional resume – writers, for a long time to come.

    But an ever-increasing number of recruiters feel that graphical / visual / audio resumes have an edge over plain text resumes – prompting emergence of job-portals such as which inspired me to come-up with my own

    With regards

    hemen parekh

    Mumbai — India

  • Linseydooley

    my name is linsey am 25 years old and av got 2 children i left school at a young age and have no quolifications iv only ever had 1 job as a cleaner and that was for about a year i am now looking to get back 2 work but am struggling to do a cv can enybody help me

    • Smileslewisbundy

      As you dont have any work experience yet I would focus on your talents at school, it’s your chance to tell the employer more about you.Headings to think about:1. Personal info-this contains name, contact details – as they will want to contact you by phone or email once they have read your CV2. Describe yourself in a couple of sentences eg “I will soon be finishing school and want to start my career. I’m hardworking, quick to learn, I enjoy working as part of a team…blablabla3. Education- were you go to school. and your grades/expected grades4. Skills/experienceThis is your chance to show off a bit. If you have computer skills list these, are you good at maths? if you like art and drama you can draw on your creative skillsIf you have ever done presentations to your class you can talk about your communication skills.4.Your hobbies and interests.Where you a member of any clubs – scouts, football? all things like this show you are a good team player who can transfer these skills into the workplaceDid you do anything out of school such as Duke Of Edinburugh award, or the Young Enterprise awards any voluntary work or hobbies you have.Hope that helps

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