How to write an effective school leaver CV

How can a recent school leaver entering the job market prepare a compelling CV? This guide covers the structuring, pitfalls, and tips to make your school leaver CV outshine the competition.

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CV for 16 year old school leaver template - brand logos

Stepping out of the structured world of education and diving into the uncharted waters of the job market can be both exhilarating and daunting for school leavers. You’ve worked hard, collecting a toolbox of skills and knowledge, now it’s time to showcase those on the grand platform of employment. But where to begin?

The CV, your personal billboard, a piece of paper that speaks volumes about your potential, is your ticket to capturing the attention of your prospective employers. Yet, crafting a CV that stands out in the sea of applicants, especially when you lack work experience, can seem like climbing Everest.

We understand the anxiety, the questions swirling in your mind – “What should I include?”, “How should I structure it?”, “Will it be good enough?”.

This guide is designed to navigate you through these questions, equipping you with tried and tested strategies to prepare a CV for school leaver that not only matches the job description but also resonates with the hiring manager.

School leaver CV - an example

Stephanie Johnson

5 High Street, Town, County, Postcode | Email: stephanie.johnson@example.com | Mobile: +44 4444 444444

Personal profile

An enthusiastic and ambitious school leaver with excellent academic results and a strong interest in digital marketing. Self-motivated with proven leadership skills through active participation in school clubs, demonstrating excellent teamwork and communication abilities. Seeking a challenging role to utilise my skills and further develop my marketing knowledge.

EDUCATION

A-Levels, Anytown Sixth Form College | Sept 2018 – July 2020

  • Business Studies (A)
  • English Literature (A)
  • Art (B)

GCSEs, Anytown Secondary School | Sept 2016 – July 2018

8 GCSEs including Mathematics (A), English (A) and Art (A).

SKILLS

  • Digital marketing: Developed a keen interest in digital marketing, with a particular focus on social media management. Managed the school’s photography club Instagram page, displaying good SEO practices and content creation skills.
  • Teamwork: As a member of the school’s netball team, learned the importance of effective team communication and coordination.
  • Leadership: As Head Girl, led several school projects and initiatives, demonstrating strong leadership and organisational abilities.
  • Technical skills: Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, with a strong understanding of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Photography club: Led the club’s Instagram page, growing the followers by 50% over 6 months.

Sports: Active member of the school netball team, demonstrating teamwork and dedication.

Head girl: Organised school events and represented student opinions to school leadership.

REFERENCES

Available upon request.


The above school-leaver CV example is provided for illustrative purposes only. It’s crucial to understand that copying it verbatim will likely not yield the results you desire. Every person is unique — with different experiences, skills, and aspirations — and your CV should reflect this individuality.

Employers value authenticity and are seeking candidates who can convey their unique story and potential. Use the CV example above as inspiration, but remember that personalization is the key to success.

Looking for something? These examples might be just what you need:

Now that we have delved into a detailed school-leaver CV example, it’s time to talk about the CV layout.

CV template for school leaver

Did you know that the structure and presentation of your curriculum vitae can significantly influence its impact?

But what does a good school-leaver CV template look like? The three CV templates below are specifically designed to highlight your academic achievements, skills, and extracurricular activities professionally and compellingly, rather than focusing on listing your work history in reverse chronological order.

From left to right, our first CV template gives you a classic structure, making it easy for employers to navigate through the sections. It starts with a personal profile, followed by education, skills, and extracurricular activities. It’s a perfect option for most school leavers who want to keep things clear and concise.

Do you have a wealth of skills that you’ve gained through non-academic activities? Then, our second school-leaver CV template may suit you best. It prioritizes showcasing your skills, followed by education and profile.

Finally, for those who want to make a more contemporary impression, our third school-leaver CV template starts with an impactful personal profile, followed by skills, education, and extracurricular activities. This layout works well if you want to emphasize your personal attributes and aspirations.

Remember: when considering CV templates, keep in mind your unique circumstances, strengths, and what you want to emphasize to potential employers. Remember, the goal is to present a clear and comprehensive picture of your abilities and aspirations.

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CV template for school leaver - traditional School leaver CV template - skills-based School leaver CV examples - modern

What should a school leaver put on a CV?

When constructing your school-leaver CV, the focus should be on presenting your academic achievements, hard skills and soft skills, personal qualities, and any extracurricular activities in a way that makes sense with the job advert.

Begin with a compelling personal profile that gives a snapshot of who you are, your aspirations, and what you bring to the table. This part of school leavers CV is crucial as it sets the tone and can captivate the recruiter’s attention.

Next, highlight your education, detailing your qualifications and grades. While you may not have extensive work experience, showcasing any part-time jobs, volunteer work, or internships can reflect your initiative and willingness to learn, which are qualities employers value. Emphasize the skills you’ve gained from these experiences, such as teamwork, leadership, or problem-solving.

Don’t forget to include any extra-curricular activities or achievements that demonstrate your personality, interests, and dedication.

Remember, it’s essential to tailor your CV to each job application, ensuring that you highlight the most relevant skills and experiences.

School leaver CV examples

In this section, you will find three diverse CV examples for UK school leavers looking to craft a compelling CV. Each example covers a different circumstance, ensuring there’s something suitable for everyone, regardless of background, interests, or aspirations.

CV for a school leaver with part-time
and summer job experience

This first CV example focuses on a school leaver who has gained valuable skills and experience through part-time and summer jobs. This individual has balanced academic responsibilities with employment, demonstrating a strong work ethic, time management skills, and the ability to multi-task.

The CV will showcase how these job experiences, though not directly related to their desired career path, have equipped them with transferable skills that are attractive to employers. The example will also highlight their academic achievements and any relevant extracurricular activities, presenting a well-rounded candidate who stands ready to embark on a successful career journey.

School leaver CV examples - summer and saturday job

CV for a school leaver with limited experience (babysitting)

Our second school leaver CV example focuses on a school leaver who has gained basic skills and experience through babysitting. Even though the babysitting experience may seem unrelated to their career goals, it showcases a certain set of valuable skills like responsibility, patience, time management, and problem-solving.

This CV will highlight how these transferrable skills can be applicable to a variety of job roles. The academic achievements and extra-curricular activities of this candidate will also be emphasized, demonstrating their well-rounded capabilities. This example serves as a testament that every experience, no matter how small or unrelated it might seem, can contribute to your professional development in unexpected ways.

School leaver CV examples - limited experience

CV for a school Leaver with no experience

The third school leaver CV example is targeted at a school leaver who is looking for a first job. This may seem challenging initially, but remember that everyone starts from somewhere, and there are numerous ways to showcase your potential. This example will accentuate the individual’s academic achievements, skills acquired through various school projects or assignments, and involvement in extracurricular activities.

The CV will emphasize transferable skills such as teamwork, leadership, and commitment, learned from group projects, school clubs, or sports teams. It will clearly illustrate that even without formal work experience, a candidate can offer valuable skills and qualities that make them a worthy contender in the job market.

School leaver CV examples - no experience

How to write a CV for a school leaver

Creating a compelling CV as a school leaver might seem like a daunting task. However, with careful consideration and planning, you can create a CV that effectively showcases your skills, qualifications, and potential.

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide to help you craft a CV for school leaver that grabs the employer’s attention which will cover the following sections:

  • Contact details: Start with your name, address, phone number, and professional email address. If applicable, you can also include your LinkedIn profile or personal website.
  • Personal profile: Write a short introduction and summary of yourself, showcasing your strengths and career aspirations.
  • Education: Add a summary of your academic qualifications and notable achievements.
  • Skills: Highlight your skills gained through various experiences such as school projects, volunteering, or part-time jobs.
  • Work experience/Internships: Detail any relevant work experiences, internships, or voluntary work you’ve done.
  • Extracurricular activities: Highlight involvement in clubs, societies, sports, or any other pursuits that demonstrate your interests and dedication.
  • References: Include references from teachers, employers, or anyone who can vouch for your skills and character. Remember to ask for permission before listing anyone as a reference.

Let’s now delve deeper into these sections.

1. Contact Details

The contact details section of your CV is your first point of connection with your potential employer. It’s crucial as it allows employers to reach out to you for an interview or further discussion. Your contact details should be accurate, professional and easy to find. Here’s an example of how to present this information:

Correct

John Doe

123 Elm Street, Anytown, ST 12345

Phone: (123) 456-7890

Email: johndoe@example.com

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/johndoe

Pro tip

Ensure your email address looks professional; it’s recommended to use a combination of your first and last name or initials. Steer clear of informal or quirky addresses, as they may not present the professional image you want to convey.

2. Personal profile

The Personal profile section presents a significant opportunity to make a strong first impression. It serves as an introduction, providing a snapshot of who you are, your career goals, and what you bring to the table. Importantly, the CV personal statement can persuade potential employers to continue reading your CV, making it a crucial component in marketing yourself effectively.

Good example:

A dedicated and ambitious school leaver with a strong academic record, seeking an entry-level position in financial analysis. Proven analytical skills and detail-oriented approach from conducting in-depth research projects, coupled with strong proficiency in statistical tools like SPSS and SAS.

Bad example:

I recently finished school and I’m looking for a job.


3. Education

The Education section of your CV is particularly important, especially for a school leaver, as it provides employers with insight into your academic qualifications, achievements, and dedication to learning. It allows potential employers to gauge your knowledge base, skill set, and capacity for growth, which are all significant factors when considering a candidate for a position.

Don’t forget to include your A-levels or equivalent qualifications (such as Highers in Scotland, or the International Baccalaureate) as they are key indicators of your academic abilities and can demonstrate subject-specific knowledge that may be relevant to the position you are applying for.

Good example:

strong>A-Level (Predicted grades: ABB)

Anytown High School, Anytown, UK

September 2019 – Present

GCSEs: 9 in total

Anytown High School, Anytown, UK

September 2017 – June 2019

Including Mathematics (A), English Language (A), Science (A)

Bad example:

Studied at Anytown High School


Pro tip

If you haven’t graduated yet, it’s important to include your expected graduation date next to the school name to keep employers informed about your current academic status and future availability.

4. Skills

The Skills section of your CV is crucial; it demonstrates your competencies that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. It’s your chance to showcase transferable and job-specific school-leaver CV skills, may they be hard skills or interpersonal skills, making you stand out as a viable candidate even without extensive professional experience.

Good example:

Skills

  • Proficiency in statistical analysis software (SPSS, SAS)
  • Excellent quantitative and analytical skills, demonstrated through academic projects
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

Bad example:

  • Good with numbers
  • Knows how to use a computer


School leavers CV examples - skills

5. Work Experience/Internship

The Work experience/Internship section of your school leaver’s CV can significantly bolster your application, showcasing your ability to function in a real-world working environment. Even if you haven’t yet left school, it provides potential employers with tangible evidence of your work ethic, adaptability, and capabilities, thus serving as a critical component of your CV, even for school leavers.

Under the job title, you should provide a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements in that role, using action verbs and quantifiable results whenever possible. This will allow employers to visualize how you could contribute to their organization.

Good example:

Work experience

Intern, ABC Corporation, June 2020 – August 2020

  • Conducted comprehensive financial research and analysis of industry trends
  • Prepared and presented findings clearly and concisely
  • Assisted in creating financial models and forecasts

Bad example:

Worked at ABC Corporation over the summer.


6. Extracurricular activities

The Extracurricular activities section of your CV is a valuable space where you can demonstrate your passion, commitment, and skills outside of academia. This part of a good CV can reveal your leadership, teamwork skills, and other qualities that employers often seek, making you a more rounded and attractive candidate.

Good example:

Member, University Economics Society, 2018-2021

  • Organized and led regular meetings and discussion forums
  • Collaborated in hosting the annual Economics Symposium, attracting speakers from top financial institutions

Bad example:

Was part of the economics club


7. References

The References section of your CV serves as the confirmation of your skills, achievements, and work ethic, with testimonials from individuals who have had direct experience with you in a professional or academic setting. This validation can greatly enhance your credibility, making you a more compelling candidate in the eyes of hiring managers.

Good example:

John Doe, Economics teacher, Anytown High School, johndoe@xyz.anytown.edu

Bad example:

My professor from high school


Remember, the key to an effective CV lies in providing specific details and showcasing your skills and experiences effectively. Always tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for, highlighting the most relevant skills and experiences.

8. Optional sections to consider for your school leaver CV

As you write a school-leaver CV, you are not obliged to stick to the bare minimum. There are additional optional sections you might want to consider incorporating such as personal projects, volunteering, professional certifications, or languages spoken.

These sections can offer further opportunities to highlight your skills, experiences, or accomplishments that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Keep reading to discover three of the most commonly included optional components that could be beneficial to your school leaver CV:

Certifications

The Certifications section of your CV can further bolster your profile. Any relevant certifications acquired during or after school can underline your dedication to continuous learning and showcase your expertise in specific areas that may be relevant to the job.

Correct

Certified Financial Analyst, CFA Institute, 2021

  • Completed Level 1 of the CFA Program, demonstrating a strong understanding of professional and ethical standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, and corporate finance.
  • Currently preparing for Level 2, with a focus on asset classes and portfolio management.

Volunteer work

The Volunteer work section allows you to express your commitment to community service and your ability to work without monetary rewards. Because yes: even your work at the local charity can demonstrate valuable transferable skills such as teamwork, project management, and communication.
Good Example:

Correct

Volunteer, Local Food Bank, Summer 2020

  • Coordinated and streamlined the distribution process, leading to a 20% increase in efficiency.
  • Demonstrated strong teamwork and leadership skills by managing a small group of volunteers.
  • Developed excellent organizational and communication skills through daily interaction with a diverse group of volunteers and beneficiaries.

Hobbies and Interests

The Hobbies and Interests section offers a window into your personality, showing potential employers what interests you outside of work and study. This can make you more relatable and show that you are a well-rounded individual, thereby enhancing your appeal to potential employers. However, be sure to mention hobbies and interests that are constructive and present you in a positive light.

Correct

Outdoor enthusiast

  • Participated in various outdoor activities including hiking, cycling, and camping, demonstrating passion for nature and physical fitness.
  • Organized local hiking trips for a group of 20+ individuals, displaying leadership and teamwork skills.
  • Demonstrated commitment to community service through participation in park clean-up events.

Writing a cover letter to go with your school leaver CV

CV template for school leaver - cover letter

A well-crafted letter serves as a compelling introduction to your school leaver CV, and provides an opportunity to make a strong first impression on potential employers. It allows you to elaborate on the key details of your CV for school leaver, providing context and deeper insights into your skills, experiences, and passion for the role you’re applying for.

Furthermore, a cover letter demonstrates your communication and writing abilities, two skills that are highly valued in any professional setting. By personalizing each cover letter to the particular job and company, you show the employer that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in the role. This extra effort can set you apart from other candidates, increasing your chances of landing a job interview.

However, it is crucial to remember that while a well-written cover letter can grab the attention of potential employers, it cannot compensate for a poorly written CV. So make sure to follow the tips highlighted in the next section.

CV for school leaver – top tips

When drafting your CV as a school leaver, there are a few things to remember to ensure your CV is effective and showcases your skills and experiences attractively. Here are CVHelp’s top 7 tips:

  • Tailor your CV to the job: Always adapt your CV to match the specific job requirements and highlight the most relevant skills and experiences you possess.
  • Use a professional tone: Maintain a formal, professional tone throughout your CV and avoid using slang or overly casual language.
  • Quantify achievements: Wherever possible, quantify your achievements with specific numbers or percentages to provide concrete evidence of your skills and abilities.
  • Keep it concise: Your CV for school leaver should be clear and to the point, ideally not exceeding two pages in length. Avoid including unnecessary information.
  • Check for errors: Always proofread your CV carefully for any grammatical or spelling errors before sending it. Mistakes can create a poor impression.
  • Use a clear layout: Ensure your CV is easy to read by using a clear, simple layout with defined sections and bullet points.
  • Include a cover letter: Always attach a personalized cover letter with your CV. This gives you an extra opportunity to showcase your skills and express your interest in the job.

What to avoid in a school leaver CV

While there are key elements to include in a successful CV, there are also mistakes that will not impress recruiters… Here are the top five things to avoid in a school leaver CV:

  • Being vague: Avoid being vague about your skills and experiences. Be specific and give concrete examples of your achievements.
  • Negativity: Never include negative information or criticize previous jobs, employers, or schools. Always maintain a positive tone.
  • Irrelevant information: Only include information that is relevant to the job you’re applying for. Irrelevant details can distract the employer from your key qualifications.
  • Lying or exaggerating: Never lie or exaggerate about your skills or experiences. Honesty is integral to maintaining your credibility.
  • Formatting inconsistencies: Maintain consistent formatting throughout your CV for school leaver. Varying fonts, font sizes, or bullet styles can make your CV look messy and unprofessional.

Nail your school leaver CV today!

Crafting a compelling school leaver CV is a critical step in launching your professional journey. Remember, a well-structured CV that effectively showcases your skills, experiences, and passion can make a significant impact on potential employers. Follow our top tips, avoid common pitfalls, and utilize our guidance to create a CV that truly represents who you are and what you can bring to the table.

Why not make the process even easier? Check out our intuitive CV builder. It takes the guesswork out of formatting and ensures you present your information in the most professional and attractive way possible. Take the first step towards your dream job today!



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Year 11 CV for 16 year old school leaver template

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