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Skills workbook resources – your CV

How to use these resources

Creating a strong CV will show help you show employers why you’re the right person for the job.

If you’re here, it’s probably because you’re following the skills workbook and have arrived at the section on CVs. Because there was too much information to include in the page, you can find the rest of the information below.

What CV format should I use?

The format should draw attention to the best, strongest parts of your CV. Your CV should put the focus on your competencies and academic achievements.

If you have no experience, a skills-based CV will usually be the best option. The skills section is located below the personal statement, listing categories of competencies you’ve developed through study, which you can then go into more specific detail about using bullet points. For example, under IT, you could record some of the programmes you’re familiar with and what you’ve done with them, such as “created and managed spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel.”

Another option is the reverse chronological CV format. This format is the most popular with employers. Your work history will be the most prominent section in the CV. As most young people have little to no work experience, this format usually isn’t suitable. However, if you’ve had a relevant weekend job or part-time role at a family business, then this format could be the best choice for you.

There are several key parts that make up a CV:

  1. Contact details

  2. Personal statement

  3. Work history

  4. Education

  5. Skills

  6. Hobbies and interests (optional), extra-curricular activities

Contact details

Don’t take this section for granted. If employers don’t know how to reach you, they can’t offer you an interview. Always double-check your details are correct before you submit your CV.

You’ll need to include:

Your full name
Telephone number
Email address

Make sure your email and phone number are up-to-date and correct. Does your personal email sound professional? It’s a good idea to set one up rather than use your everyday email address, as it can help you look extra professional.

Personal statement

The personal statement on your CV usually appears at the top, below your contact details. It should be a short and impactful summary of what’s to come in your CV – and it needs to grab recruiters’ attention from the start. The key is to identify the best and most relevant strengths in your CV.

As it’s only two or three sentences long, the personal statement will need to include only the most vital details. First, make sure you’ve read and understood the job description. What are two or three core qualities that the recruiter is looking for? It might be ‘teamwork’ or ‘customer service experience’.

Next, find two or three qualities and competencies you possess that closely match the job description. If you have no experience, these could be ‘enthusiasm’, ‘eagerness to learn’, and ‘a track record of hard work at school’.

Work and practical experience

Even if you don’t have any work experience yet, you’ve probably got more relevant experience for getting a job than you think. Consider your extra-curricular activities, projects and hobbies.

Maybe you’ve participated in a science project, school performance or sporting competition? Have you won any awards or taken part in a residential programme? Which experiences and skills did you gain that you can include on your CV?

When you’re listing paid or unpaid work experience, there are some details you must include. These are:

  • Dates: Include the month and year you started and finished the role.

  • Job details – You should include the job title, the name of your employer, and location.

  • Responsibilities – List out the responsibilities that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for. You can use bullet points to clearly define your job duties.

For example

January 2021 – August 2022

Newspaper Delivery | Khan’s Newsagents – Aylesbury

  • Prepared newspapers with inserts and leaflets

  • Delivered to 50+ houses in local area

  • Collected payment from customers by cheque and cash

Where should I position my work experience on my CV?

If you have no work experience, use a skills-based format, which focuses on your abilities. In this case, you can either skip the work history section, or add any voluntary work you’ve done in a short section after your competencies.

If you have lots of experience from paid and voluntary roles, your work experience should go near the top of your CV, beneath your contact details.

Showcasing your skills

When you’re just starting you, you’re more likely to have transferable skills than a long list of technical abilities. Don’t underestimate how important these transferable skills are. For example, having good communication skills is important for every job and is highly sought-after.

Your time at school will have equipped you with a wide variety of transferable competencies to use at work, from computer literacy to time management.

When thinking about your skills for your CV, make sure you read the job description and tailor the competencies. Even if you don’t have the exact requirement, you can still show that you’re a good match. If you haven’t used Adobe Photoshop, for example, you might be experienced at using other photo-editing software.

Here are some suggestions for qualities and abilities to include:

Top skills to include

Verbal and written communication

Basic mathematics and English

Problem solving

IT, including MS Office


Organisational ability

Time management

Positive attitude



Additional qualities

Proficiency with social media platforms

Confident speaker




Write down your additional abilities


Details of your education play an important role in your CV as this stage. They provide an overview of your studies and your knowledge and abilities.

How to showcase your studies

Many employers look for GCSE Maths and English as a minimum requirement. If you have GCSEs in any relevant subject – such as business studies for an admin role – make sure that you include it.

If you’ve started further education, it’s important to let recruiters know the subjects you’re studying. Include details of the prospective completion date for your studies too.

Set out your qualifications clearly

Simply set out your:

Level of qualification
Subjects (for further education)
Year of completion

For example

A-Levels – Maths, Business Studies, Psychology
Amersham School Sixth Form
Expected 2024

It’s not necessary to describe here about what you learned on the courses or any tests you did.

What if I do not have any qualifications?

You can still have a CV if you do not have GCSE results. List any qualifications you have, such as Level 1 Functional Skills in English. If you have none, there are plenty of other details you can include to impress recruiters. These include:

  • Expected GCSE results

  • Work experience

  • Voluntary experience

  • Core abilities

  • Languages spoken

  • Hobbies and interests

  • Achievements and awards

Showcase your transferable skills and experience. It is vital to build up some experience if you are not expected to have good GCSE results.

A good cover letter

Attaching a strong cover letter with your CV makes a real difference. It’s a great way to grab an employer’s attention.

A covering letter is also useful if you have no qualifications or experience on your CV. It’s a chance to explain your circumstances to recruiters.

A good way to think about structuring your cover letter is:  you – me – us.

YOU: Start by mentioning the job role you are applying for.

ME: Introduce yourself. Tell recruiters why you want this job and how you stand out from the other candidates. After this introductory paragraph, you can elaborate on relevant details from your CV. Look at the job description. Which particular qualities is the company is looking for? Choose three or four to mention in your cover letter.

US: Finish off with a conclusion that reiterates how perfect you are for the job – and let them know you’re looking forward to them getting in touch.

Fine-tune your CV

Write a CV and covering letter specifically for each job you apply for is vital. It might sound like a drag, but recruiters can spot a generic CV as it’s unlikely to contain the specific details they’re looking for.

Include specific key words and phrases from the advert in your CV and make sure it’s tailored to you as a candidate. For example, if you’re looking for a part-time job, you can mention this in your professional summary.

Double and triple-check your CV

Many job applications attract hundreds of CVs so you need to ensure yours will impress within the first 10-30 seconds of a recruiter picking it up. This means you must avoid spelling and grammar mistakes. Check and double check for typos and small mistakes then get a friend or carer to read through it too. It’s very easy to miss something, so that extra pair of eyes is essential.

Think outside the box

It’s unlikely that any candidate will match every single criteria in the job description. This is good news because even if you’re missing some areas, your transferable abilities can help you meet (and exceed) the criteria. For example, you may not have experience serving customers at a cafe, but you have served drinks at a local sports club or an after-school event.

Hobbies and achievements are important

What you do in your spare time sheds more light on who you are. Your hobbies and interests can also set you apart from other candidates. Maybe you speak another language, pursue a hobby, or participate in a sports team/music group? People often include this type of information in a short section at the end of their CV under ‘Other interests’.

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