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11/17/2015 2:55:21 PM

Five steps to the perfect first CV

Just finished school but university not right for you? Maybe you’ve just graduated and have little or no work experience? A recent National Citizen Service survey has shown that employers have less time than ever before to review entry level CVs. Typically, employers will spend just eight seconds reading a CV so, to get noticed, yours needs to make an impact!

We’ve put together our top five tips to help YOU shine on paper. Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before, our tips will give you the basis for a great CV that can grow and develop with you throughout your career.

1. Presentation, presentation, presentation!

The most apparent thing about your CV when someone first looks at it is how it's presented. If it has sloppy formatting or grubby marks on it, it won’t matter how great the content is. Ensure your spelling and grammar are on point, and consider downloading an online template to help your information look professional. Also, make sure you ask someone else to proofread your CV before you submit it to an employer - a pair of fresh eyes can’t hurt!

2. Be unique

Each CV must to be tailored for the industry or job you are applying for so take some time to do your research. Use any insight into the company and the role you're applying for to highlight how your skills and attributes would fit with the company.

If using a template CV, you may need to change the phrasing to make it read more like 'you'. A copy-and-pasted CV looks both lazy and unprofessional.

3. How to deal with a short (or non-existent) employment history

Firstly, don’t panic. You can make an impact in the way you describe the life experiences you have had.

Have you done an internship? Even if it was all tea-making and archiving, you will have acquired some valuable work and interpersonal skills; tell your prospective employer about them. 

Do you have little to no professional experience? No problem, you can still highlight any skills you picked up on weekend jobs, during work experience or on school or college projects. Need inspiration? Skills acquired in this way tend to include team work, working independently, achieving targets, and communicating and presenting. 

4. What to include in the ‘Skills’ section

For most roles, you will be required to have a level of IT proficiency, so competency with Word and Excel are considered good attributes. If you have any language skills beyond English (particularly Welsh within North Wales) include them too. Experience of sales and money handling will be a bonus for many businesses as well.

However, with this potentially being your first job, many employers will consider your personal attributes to be important too. This is where you demonstrate your value to a potential employer beyond academic performance. Make particular reference to work that shows the reader that you'll go the extra mile to improve yourself and to support causes you believe in. For example, charity work, community work or volunteering experiences will suggest to an employer that you can adapt well to the culture of their organisation and work alongside a variety of people. 

5. Let the job description be your buddy!

Read the job description, and then read it again. Increasingly, employers expect applicants to reference the job description and reflect the 'essential' and 'desirable' skills listed. This is why tailoring your CV to each application is so important; you need to present yourself as the ideal candidate. A bespoke CV will show you have taken time and care over your submission and will prove you’ve taken enough interest to read the job description thoroughly too.

And finally...

Everyone knows a story about someone with perfect grades who didn't get the job because they lacked personality. It's unfortunate but it also demonstrates the value of willingness to learn and enthusiasm. Do your best, be you, and approach every application as if it were the first. If you don't succeed, don't take it to heart, use it as a learning experience and, remember, always request feedback whatever the outcome. 

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