Top Tips: How to Make a CV for Your First Job


Making a first CV is a challenge that all school leavers must face. For first-timers, it’s easy to make common mistakes and downright awkward errors that will land your CV in the shred pile. However, with the internet and therefore plenty of valuable CV tips and advice available to you, you should have no problems creating an awesome first CV that will win you job interview invitations!

So, let’s get started with making your CV (curriculum vitae) for your first ever job…

1. Start with a clear format

There are a few ways that you can format your CV depending on what works best for you. A chronological CV is the most common format. Employers favour a chronological format as it presents your experience and qualifications in a way that is organised and easy to digest. This format involves listing your work experience section and education in reverse chronological order (the most recent would be first).

However, when it comes to how to make a CV for your first job, a skills-based CV may be more suitable. This type of CV focuses more on your abilities and achievements than on your actual work experience. If you want to use this format, you simply have to replace your work experience section with a skills section. List the skill you have as a sub-heading and then underneath you should use a couple of bullet points to talk about examples of when you have used this skill.

The format of your CV is extremely important as you’ll want to ensure it is easy for a hiring manager to read and navigate. Your headings should stand out in bold and it’s better to use bullet points and short sentences rather than big paragraphs of text. If you’re unsure about what your CV should look like, start with one of the free CV templates available online.

2. Showcase your transferable skills

As you won’t have a page long of professional experience, you need to make the most of your skill set to impress employers. Your skills should be the main part of your CV.

Think about what transferrable skills you have learnt during your time at school and in your extracurricular activities. Key skills that employers look for include:

  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • IT
  • Leadership
  • Organisation and planning
  • Positivity
  • Problem-solving
  • Resilience
  • Teamwork

If you can highlight some examples of when you have used these skills, you will impress employers.

3. Ace your personal statement

At the top of your CV should you include your name and contact information, including your email address, phone number and home address (you do not need to include your date of birth). You can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile if you have one.

The next part will be your personal statement. This should be a brief synopsis of your key skills and qualifications showcasing why you are relevant for the role you are applying to. It is an opportunity to highlight significant aspects of your CV that will encourage the recruiter to read further.

Discover CV Personal Statement Examples.

4. Make the most of your hobbies and interests

Your hobbies and interests section is more important than you may think. A prospective employer can learn so much about you from this part of your CV or application. You can really use it to sell your strengths, skills, attributes and personality, especially those that the job requires.

Consider the activities you take part in or hobbies you have and think about the skills and characteristics they require of you. If these skills are transferable to the workplace, then these hobbies should really be on your CV. For example, if you regularly participate in a team sport this suggests that you are competitive, a team player and committed.

5. List your education

As you won’t have much (if any) work experience to include, you should make your education section work to your advantage. List your qualifications in reverse chronological order including the school name, dates of study and grades.

If you have any stand out achievements or won any awards during this time, you should also mention those. You shouldn’t go back any further than GCSE level and if you are waiting on your grades you could include your predicted marks for the time being.

6. Use the job description to tailor your CV

Once you have a solid base for your CV, you should ensure that you tailor it to the roles you are applying for. The best way to do this is to read the job description carefully and incorporate the language and requirements in your CV. While you shouldn’t copy anything word for word, being able to pick out keywords and skills will help you to make an impact with your CV. This way your CV will always be relevant to the job you are applying for.

7. Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors

One of the worst CV mistakes you can make is to have spelling and grammatical errors in your CV. No employer will want to hire someone with no attention to detail. Once you have finished updating your CV you should proofread it and proofread it again. If you can get a friend or family member to check your CV as well that should help you eliminate any errors.

You can also use a free proofreading tool like this one.

Bringing it all together

Applying for a job with your first CV can feel daunting, but if you get your CV right by following our ‘how to make a CV for your first job’ guide, you’ll do fine. Now you’ve perfected your CV, it’s time to face your next challenge – writing a cover letter!



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