How to start writing your CV while you're still at school (and why you should)

student at work on laptop

Get a headstart and focus on the skills you need to develop

Even for those who have reached senior levels of their chosen careers, putting achievements down on paper can be pretty daunting.

So when you are still at college or school, the thought of filling two sides of A4 to create a killer CV may seem like Mission Impossible - particularly when you’ve never had a job and your list of achievements is limited to your exam results and a couple of weeks of work experience.

But it's worth starting your CV now - even if you're not looking for work straight away. 

For one thing, it will help you to better understand the skills you already have. And if you're thinking like a job-hunter, you'll be able to focus more clearly on the areas where you need to develop further.

So, summon your inner Tom Cruise and take a deep breath. Sketching out your first CV now could be the first step towards your future goals.

Focus on your strengths

No employer will expect someone in their teens to have a substantial work history.

Instead, focus on the skills you have and presenting them in a way that highlights what you can offer.

To start, sit down and list a few things that you think you’re really good at. Ask a friend or teacher to do the same. Your list may include things like communicating, motivation, time management, listening, presentations and public speaking.

When you have your list, think of examples of how you have used these skills in real-life situations. This may be during after-school clubs you attend, activities you get up to in your spare time or volunteer work that you’ve done.

For instance, if you are part of a sports team then you will know all about teamwork and drive. If you happen to captain the squad, you can also mention leadership and commitment. If you have a blog that’s a hit with your peers, then you’re creative and good at written communication

Before you know it, you’ll start to have the core of a good CV.

students playing sports

Don’t forget the obvious

Are you social-media savvy? Do you have a driving licence?

In a rush to include lots of other details, it can be really easy to leave out skills employers want because you may think they are obvious or unimportant.

If you can do something which could be useful in the workplace, put it in.

IT skills are important here, especially if you can use a range of computer programs. Think too about languages that you can speak - you don’t have to be fluent for it to be useful or interesting.

Add some personality

The best CVs are always those which highlight what you can offer as a person.

As ByEeek writes on The Student Room forum: “Remember, a CV is an advert for an interview, not a job. It needs to provide enough incentive to the reader for them to think ‘I want to know more about this person’.”

When you’re creating a CV it’s always good to include a section on your interests and hobbies.

Four or five bullet points should do it. But try to make them relevant, interesting and a bit different from the norm.

After all, doesn’t everyone like socialising and spending time with their family? Instead, think about interests that say something about you as a person and potential employee. Then show how those interests are developing your skills. 

happy student sitting on steps

Fill in the gaps as you go

Creating a CV early gives you a chance to think about what you can do better.

If, after filling in the sections, you find you have gaps then think about taking steps to get experience to fill them.

For instance if you have plenty of hobbies but no paid work then it may be worth checking out jobs boards. Likewise, if you have never volunteered then you may want to pop into a local charity shop.

Think too about your audience - as the quality of a CV depends entirely on what it’s being written for.

If you’re dead set on a certain career then you should use your time in education to broaden your transferable skills across the board. This will mean when the time comes to apply for jobs, you are ahead of the game.

Remember there’s no rush

Finally, the best advice is that a CV is never complete.

As you progress through life, your achievements and experience are guaranteed to change.

The best thing you can do is try to update your work history and skills profile as often as you can.

And if you feel like you need more experience in a certain area, then get out there and show the world what you’re made of. You’re never too young or old to learn.

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