How to Write Your First CV

Whether you’ve just completed your studies, and you’re ready for the next step in your education, or you’re ready to get stuck in with an Apprenticeship or job role – you’re going to need a CV.

An essential document across your career, a CV is something you will update regularly across your working life – but it can be difficult to get started when you’ve got limited professional experience.

There’s a lot of resources offering CV templates, but with research suggesting that the average recruiter takes only 7 seconds to make a decision on a CV – it’s crucial that you get it right. Have no fear – here’s our guide to writing your first CV.

Make it Stand Out

Given that employers are spending less and less time looking at CV’s before making a decision – the number one thing you need to do is give them what they’re looking for straight away. This isn’t just about formatting (though this is key if you want to secure interviews), but more about making your CV relevant to what roles you’re applying for. A great way to do this is to use the job description or advert as the foundation for your CV. You might end up having a few different versions of the same CV with different skills highlighted in each.

For example, if you’re applying for a position in Retail or Hospitality, your people skills need to stand out.

If you’re applying for a more technical role, you’ll want to make it clear that you’re passionate about the field – whether it be Digital Marketing, IT or Software Development. Be advised though – for more technical roles, employers will often look for key certifications to ensure you’re up to the challenge. This means its always good to get involved in free training courses online, to help build your experience. For an idea of what free courses are available – check out these free Data courses on Coursera.

Make it Your Own

The truth is, in an extremely competitive entry-level market – standing out can be the hardest part of a CV.

Studies have shown that employers often dismiss CV’s without any experience outside of the education system, so it’s always important to have work experience opportunities listed on your CV alongside your grades.

Highlighting whatever you have done outside of school that proves you’re not afraid to put in the extra work for something you believe in will allow employers to understand you and your background more. While academic qualifications are important – life experiences speak about your character. This will give them an idea if you will fit into their working culture and get along with the existing team.

If you’ve participated in youth programmes, volunteering experiences, or passion projects – this is the time to include them. Also worth including is any sport that you’ve gotten involved in, and what social activities interest you (make sure these are employer appropriate though).

Soft Skills

You might have heard a lot about Soft Skills without knowing what they really are.

In short – Soft Skills determine how well you interact with others. These will compliment your education, including your personality, communication, language, habits and optimism. These are so critical to employers as they will determine how well you interact with colleagues at work, and therefore how effective you will all be at your respective roles.

If your soft skills are particularly strong, they might even get you an interview over someone more qualified for the role – as the working environment is so key.

The key ways to demonstrate your soft skills are;

  • Show a willingness to learn / train for the role. Mention that you’ve studied relevant videos for the role you’re applying online, or a short course that you’ve undertaken to get prepared.
  • Show self-reflection. i.e., “during my studies I realised that I was struggling to meet multiple deadlines. To resolve this, I used a reminder app/ tracker to ensure I was always aware of what I had due.

If you’re looking for more advice on soft skills – you can see our Soft Skills guide here.

Presentation is Key

As mentioned earlier, good formatting can make or break an application. You can test off your finalised CV on a couple of different devices to make sure your work isn’t wasted – maybe once on a phone, and again on a laptop or tablet.

It might seem obvious, but you want to make sure you have fully spell-checked your CV and looked for any grammar errors as these are an easy way to put employers off. While these are easy mistakes to make, there are a number of free tools that can help with this. From a free Grammarly account that you can use to proof any cover letters or applications, to even good old Microsoft Word – this small bit of effort is well worth it in the end.

It’s also important to proof-read yourself – as some typos can still make another word, meaning that they won’t get caught by these tools. Once you’re happy with it, share the final product with someone you trust to read it through. It’s easy to miss mistakes in something you’ve worked on for a while.

One final point – is make sure you’re happy with the name of the document you submitted. Calling it “FirstNameLastNameAugust2022” would work well, but calling it “CV 2020” when you’re applying roles in 2022 won’t look so good.

If you’re interested in starting your Tech career with an Apprenticeship – you can get in touch with our team here. (CV beneficial, but not required).