What’s a CV and why do you need one to bag an apprenticeship?
A CV and cover letter is your first chance to impress employers, so you definitely want to get it right.
You have probably heard your teachers or career advisors talking about perfecting your CV or cover letter, but what actually are they?
First things first, CV actually stands for curriculum vitae (don’t worry, not many people refer to it this way, we just thought you might like to know).
The aim of a CV is to offer an overview of an individual’s experience, qualifications and experience to recruiters when applying for apprenticeships, school leavers programmes or sponsored degree programmes.
Sounds important – how can I create an awesome CV?
The first thing you need to think about is presenting information clearly and logically – this puts the reader in a good frame of mind, which is more important than you might think!
When it comes to picking a font, choose one that is easy to read, like Calibri or Times New Roman (you can’t go wrong with this classic).
Definitely avoid any fonts like Comic Sans or Stencil because they will be seen as informal or unprofessional.
Your CV is not meant to be your life story; it’s just meant to pick out your key achievements and show them off in the best possible light. As a rule of thumb it’s never really meant to exceed two pages, no matter which stage of your career you’re at.
One to two pages is fine (though as you’re likely to be at an early stage of your career you might not have a huge amount of stuff to put on it, but don’t try and pad it out because this will dilute the good information).
The kind of information that should be covered includes the following sections.
Your personal details on your CV
These include your name, address, telephone number and email.
In terms of including social media links, unless your Facebook or Twitter profiles are used mainly for professional purposes, don’t include these on your CV. If you have a good LinkedIn profile you might want to include that.
Your CV’s personal statement
Your personal statement should include a line or two that introduces you, your interests and career aspirations – remember to relate these back to the job you are applying for though or you’ll bore the reader.
This is the first thing they will look at so it needs to be relevant, concise and grab their attention.
List your education and qualifications
It’s essential to include your education to date, even if you’re currently online for predicted grades. Write down your most recent qualifications first, then list in date order all of your qualifications prior to these.
Write down your work experience
If you’ve got any work or relevant experiences, include a short account of each one here. This should include the dates when they took place, where it was and what your main responsibilities were.
For example, it could look like this:
Sales assistant (part-time, 2013-2015): Topshop, Oxford Street
Sales – working behind the counter, taking orders and handling cash during customer transactions
Stock management – taking stock every day and replenishing in-store stock items
Customer service – assisting customers with problems and refunds
Skills, interests and achievements to include on your CV
Consider extra-curricular activities that you can add to your CV to show that you have a life outside of school and work!
These could include activities like sporting groups, languages, clubs and charity, community or voluntary work, like the Duke of Edinburgh Award. It’s a good idea to avoid talking about your partying habits however.
For example, this could include:
Competitive long-distance runner – member of the local junior running club and competed for the school team at county level
Grade 3 piano – playing and teaching myself in my spare time
Volunteering at local charity shops – helping them out when they’re short staffed
Really good references
Last but not least, you need to include a mention of references to backup what you’ve said in your CV. You might want to put it down as “references available upon quest” so that they have to ask you for permission to contact them.
It’s also a good idea to let the people who you’re using as references know that you’ve included them so that they aren’t confused when they’re contacted!
As you may still be in (or have only just left) school, it’s okay to have an academic (as well as ideally professional) person like a teacher or mentor lined up in case you’re asked.