How to write your first CV: 12 key tips for young people

How to write your first CV: 12 key tips for young people

Careers What's new? Young Leaders

A curriculum vitae is Latin for “course of life”, often shortened as CV. It may also be referred to as a résumé, French for “summary”. It’s a documented overview of someone’s work/achievements and used to apply for jobs.

Why this is important
For any career path, a CV or resume will be required in order to show your skills, accomplishments, and knowledge. It is usually requested at the application stage for an advertised job vacancy. However, it could be sent prospectively to a particular company even if there is no job advert.

Building your CV
Throughout your academic life and career life, there will be many opportunities for you to add new things to your CV.  In order to have a CV that stands out from the crowd, you should try to:

  • Get involved in various activities at school (outside of the classroom!)
  • Participate in extracurricular activities 
  • Build your skills; particularly in teamwork and leadership
  • Understand your strengths and qualities
  • Get work experience or Volunteering experience
  • Work towards various accomplishments that you can feel proud of 

If you do these things, your CV will be very easy to write, you will have a lot of things to say and your CV will stand out from the crowd. The quality of your CV will largely depend on the activities that you have been involved in and the skills you have developed and demonstrated. It will also depend on the thought process you put into writing and creating your CV.

Key Considerations when writing a CV
Creating your first CV can feel overwhelming. However, writing a CV is not that hard to do if you have the right guidance. In this blog, we’ll be looking at some of the key things you should put into consideration when writing your first CV.

1. Take time to understand the role & Position Yourself for the role
Look at the job description & person specification. What do you think the company is looking for? When you looked at the job description, which keywords did you notice? How can you demonstrate that you meet this criteria and you can do the job? How can you write your CV so that it demonstrates what is most useful for the role? Are there other skills and behaviours you have that are relevant to the job you’re applying for?

2. Name & Contact details
It’s extremely important that you include your name and contact details (Email and phone number) within the CV. You will be amazed at how many people apply for jobs but forget to include their name at the top of the CV or forget to include a phone number or email that they can be reached on. When creating an email, make sure you use an email address that looks professional and appropriate eg. firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

3. Personal Statement:
This short paragraph at the beginning of your CV. It describes who you are and what you believe in. It can signal your main strengths, highlight your values and mention any awards you have won? This section should be a 3 or 4 sentence introduction to you as a candidate before someone has met you. It should show the qualities that make you a good fit for the role that you want. Don’t be generic but be distinctive. It should give an overview of your qualities and highlight some of your strengths as a candidate.

4. Education
State your most recent education first, such as professional qualifications. Then, move backward including fewer details as you go. Depending on the stage of education you are at you may wish to include your grades or modules.

5. Previous work, volunteering or employment experience
Take the recruiter on a journey that tells a story and provides examples of your interest. It is okay to include volunteering experience if this is the only experience you have. Always start with the most recent work experience and then work backward. When you write about your work experience, you need to consider two key areas; your responsibilities and your achievements whilst in that role.

6. Extracurricular activities
You should try to include hobbies and interests within your CV – where possible, these hobbies and interests should show that you are committed to developing and improving yourself eg. chess, swim team or football team. If possible, try to include any hobbies that can be seen as relevant to the job e.g. if you’re going for a marketing job and you have a fashion blog or youtube channel; or if you’re going for an engineering role and you restore bikes in your spare time.

7. Accomplishments, Awards or Achievements
You should include any special awards that you have received, additional certificates, or accomplishments that make you stand out. This might include being voted to be president of your student council, being selected to be a Prefect at your school, or being the team captain in your netball team. Again, you can explain your responsibilities and the key achievements within your role.

8. Strengths and Qualities
What are your strengths and best qualities? What are the biggest, relevant achievements you would want people to know about you? Have you demonstrated the best qualities and strengths that you have to offer? Have you reviewed the objectives of the role you are applying for? Does your CV give examples of what you are most proud of?

9. Be Concise
Is your CV concise or does it just repeat the same information in a slightly different way? Are your sentences too long and have you waffled? Write objectively and be specific. Is it factual instead of opinion based? Your CV should be 1-2 pages in length. No more than 2 pages. In some industries, there is an expectation that you should stick to just 1 page so do your research on this. Search online to find out the expected CV length for your target industry and your country.

10. Cover letter
Some companies will ask you for a cover letter in addition to your CV. If you’ve been asked to write one, then take time to make this stand out. A cover letter is your opportunity to personalise, tell more stories that show the value you can add and expand what is on your CV. Break it down into three paragraphs and do not exceed 1 page.

– Explain why you’re interested in the job.
– Describe why you’re the right person and what value you can bring.
– Share a bit more about yourself in general.

11. Check for Errors
Look through your CV before submitting it. Check for any errors. It can also be useful to check your CV for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.

12. Ask for Constructive feedback
Finally, before you submit your CV, always ask one or two people to critique your CV and provide constructive feedback. Look for mentors or professionals who have some experience with CVs. This is extremely important as they might be able to spot improvements that you are yet to see.

It is highly likely that you will be updating your CV every few months or years, as you apply for new jobs and you gain more work experience.

It is useful to update it at least once a year as you review your career path because you will learn new skills or qualifications along the way.

You may even choose to have different CVs for different roles that you are interested in, as they should be targeted to your chosen field.
As mentioned, always remember to ask for feedback from a mentor to help you to review your CV before you submit it as this will help you write a CV that stands out from the crowd.

 

All the best!

How to design your Career Pathway: 7 Tips to help you get started

How to design your Career Pathway: 7 Tips to help you get started

Careers What's new? Young people

Designing a career pathway means planning a path for your career. Regardless of the career, you have chosen, you will need to think about how you’re going to get there. This applies to all careers from Law to IT and from Sciences to the Arts.

QUOTE: If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else. – Yogi Berra.

This means doing your research, thinking ahead, and planning a course of action for how you will arrive at your desired career. It involves determining the education and training that you will need to enter your chosen career and also thinking about the additional things that you can do to set yourself up for success within that career.

When you design your career pathway, you will most likely need to think about the skills required to enter the career, the subjects that you’ll need to take at GCSE and the A-level or Post-16 courses, as well as the best university that you can attend or apprenticeship that you join that will support you within this career.

In this section, we’ll go into more detail with the things you should put into consideration when designing your career pathway.

1. Find out the skills & qualities needed
It’s important that you do your research and have a good understanding of your chosen career before embarking on this and designing your career pathway. Choosing a career, especially as a teenager, can feel quite daunting but it doesn’t have to be so hard. To get started with designing your career pathway, you’ll need to do some further research on the skills and qualities required to succeed in this career. You can find out the key skills and qualities by doing desk research online, looking at job descriptions, and asking people that work within this field. Knowing the top 5-10 skills needed in this career, will help you stay focused and it will help you to continue developing those skills in your day to day life. Once you know these skills, you can start thinking about how you’ll develop these skills – this might be through extra-curricular activities, through your hobbies, through starting an online blog or even starting a small business. You will find that there are lots of creative ways to build these skills, no matter what these skills are.

2. Learn about the field, industry & employers
Now that you know the skills required, you’ll need to find out more about the industry or sector that you’ll be working in. This will give you an awareness of any opportunities or challenges within the industry, including an idea of the employment prospects for the future. You’ll also get an idea of the possible employers that you can work with and expected salary. Researching the industry, will help you widen your knowledge of this career and you may even stumble upon opportunities that you hadn’t realised existed. The more research you do, the more you’ll discover a wide range of employers and employment opportunities that will become useful when you’re ready to apply for jobs and look for work experience.

3. Search for work experience or work shadowing opportunities
Work shadowing is a great way for you to get a taste for a particular role you’ve been considering. It allows you to find out the day-to-day business of a specific job by ‘shadowing’ a person who is actively doing the job. Having work experience on your CV, shows that you’ve taken the initiative to learn more about the career. To find relevant work experience, you can ask your network, you can ask /search on social media or you can contact companies directly for openings for relevant opportunities.

4. Think about how you can continually build your network
Opportunities including work experience and skill building opportunities, can often be found through building your network with different people. At all levels of networking, some of these people are or will become genuine friends and this is one of the great advantages of networking. The aim of networking is to build connections with people around you. There are three key levels of networks that you need to think about.

a. Personal networks: These are the people that you normally connect within your day to day life but are outside of your school/work. This includes your family and friends but can also be extended to people in the same after-school activities as you, people from your fitness class, religious service or the charity you volunteer for.  It may be a tennis club, air cadets, dance group job, or a camp you attend during the summer holidays.

b. Professional network: These are the people in your immediate environment that you work or study with. At school, this would be your classmates and teachers. At work, this will be your colleagues and bosses. They may not be your friends and you may not have much in common with them but you can make a genuine connection and they may be able to support you in your career – right now or in the future.

c. Strategic network: These are people that are outside of your immediate environment and you have purposefully connected with them through a specific type of member’s club, institution, or an association for people that have the same career interests as you. They may be ahead of you in your career or they may be on the same level or they may be at an earlier stage. If they are at a more advanced stage, they may be able to provide you with mentorship and support for your career, they can also recommend you for jobs or new opportunities within your field. Over time, you will also be in a position where you can support others within this group. This is strategic networking.
The most important thing with networking is recognising that you are not an island. Don’t be afraid to speak to people about your passions, interests, and your planned career path.

5. Learn about the qualifications, courses and subjects needed for this career
Designing a career pathway will mean looking into which courses and subjects you need for this career. Most careers have a standard minimum expectation when it comes to qualifications. So there will be many questions to ask such as: Do you require a degree for this career? If you don’t require a degree, what are the steps that are usually needed to enter this career? Are there apprenticeships or fast-track programmes for this career? Are there any specific learning schools or courses e.g. in London for Performing arts (Brit School), Fashion (London College of Fashion)? Are there special exams you must take and professional courses or certificates needed to work in this career? Where are the best places to study if you choose this career? Are you required to complete special training or courses? Are there any particular scholarships that you can apply for or international work opportunities for this career?

6. Join some associations or membership groups for this career
As part of your strategic networking, it’s important that you network beyond your immediate group and this is where memberships and associations come in useful. Most careers will usually have at least one membership group or organisations connected to it. You can sign up to their newsletter, join their mailing list, follow their social media handles, join their Facebook or LinkedIn group, receive monthly publications, and attend networking events. Many membership groups will provide cheap or free membership to students as they are keen to see young people enter and succeed in their industry. By signing up to be a member, you’ll stay aware of the opportunities in this industry including work opportunities, scholarships, sponsorships, and awards that you can apply for. This is another thing that you can add to your CV especially if you choose to take an active role within the association.

7. Keep a record of your progress
It is worth documenting your hobbies and activities so that you can remember what you have learned or achieved over the years. This can be via an online blog or offline journal that can evidence as a portfolio of your talents and interests. In some careers such as Art or Architecture, it is expected that you keep a portfolio of your achievements so far. Even if you are not in these fields, you can keep a record of your certificates and recommendations. This will help you with writing your CV, personal statement or cover letter. It will also help you stay positive and remind you of all that you have achieved so far. Remember that there is more to life than your career – this is just one part of your life. However, it will be a big part of your life and it is important that you are able to feel proud of yourself and proud of what you’ve achieved so far, no matter what stage you are.

The career pathway that you design for yourself will keep changing over time – and it won’t be set in stone. This is because over time, as you grow more confident in your abilities and you learn more about this career, you’ll be able to refine your ideas and you’ll discover new things about your industry or field. You may even start to specialise and find a ‘niche’ that you enjoy and can be successful in.

Most people will change careers at least once in their life, so it’s important that you find something that you can enjoy but also design a pathway that gives you some flexibility to explore other careers if you choose to make a change in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Recap of The Annual Careers Day 2017: Work experience for Young People, Role models and Gamification

Careers What's new? Work experience Young people

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that attended our annual careers day on Saturday 18th March 2017. We had a brilliant turnout and an inspirational panel. I believe that everyone gained something on the day and the feedback from parents and young people showed that it was a learning experience for everyone.

I’ve written this blog entry for anyone who would like a recap of the day or anyone who missed parts of the day. There was so much to gain but here are some of the most important messages that I gained from the day.

  • Get some work experience to help you decide:

    There were quite a few young people that didn’t feel sure of what they wanted to do as a future career and it would be quite hard for any 13 year old to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives and this is very rare. You may need to start by doing a lot of research on the type of careers that you might enjoy, how much money is good enough for you and what type of life you would live if you choose this career. The only way to know for sure is to gain some work experience or do an internship as this will get you as close as possible to the role that you are thinking of. Remember that work experience is just a ‘snapshot’ of the actual role so try to get as much work experience as you can of different roles or even the same role. Observe the people working in the role that you aspire to, ask questions and use this to help you narrow down your choices.                                                                                                                                     

  • Studying doesn’t have to be boring – You can make it fun:

    Exams and studying are two things that are unavoidable in pretty much every profession. Getting good grades in your academic and professional exams will create more possibilities and options for your future. One member of the panel mentioned that she had worked so hard to get into Cambridge only to discover that the studying didn’t end after University, she was expected to do professional exams within her profession. Likewise, another member of the panel, who didn’t go to university, still had to do professional exams to move forward in his current career. Everyone on the panel agreed that when you enjoy what you’re doing, it becomes easier and a lot less stressful. The panel also gave some examples of how to ‘gamify’ your learning and everyone agreed that this was probably the best way to approach your studies – make it fun.                                                                                                                                                               

  • Your talents aren’t limited:

    A huge misconception at school is that only a few people are gifted but this is entirely untrue. Human beings were not designed to fit into a box. We are multi-faceted and multi-talented. This means that you are an engineer and an artist, you can still get to work in IT and run businesses, you can be a teacher and a social entrepreneur, an investment banker and neuroscientist, a project manager that loves sports and is also an author, you can be a lawyer that writes and volunteers, a tech recruiter that has coached a women’s basketball team. You don’t have to do it all at the same time but you already have so many gifts and there are so many possibilities for your future.

     

  • Support from your parents can make a huge difference:

    It was interesting to hear how parents had had such a huge influence on the panel. Most people on the panel felt that their parents were their role models and this shows how much our children pick up from us. I was particularly moved by the member of the panel that explained how he failed his A-levels (more than once) and how this had a negative impact on his confidence, his relationship with his parents, his self-esteem and his motivation in life. It was also interesting to hear how his dad had to change his approach in order to build a better relationship with him. The person that failed his A-levels is now extremely successful for his age but this wouldn’t have happened if his parents hadn’t taken time to rethink their approach and support him in the right way. We all want our children to be happy and successful. Sometimes this means that we have to be the first to change if we want to see a change in them.

  • Never ever give up on yourself

    Tenacity and resilience are essential if you want to succeed. A couple of people on the panel spoke about being rejected for some time or dropping out of university or constantly being compared to their sibling before they finally got their first ‘break’ and everything picked up from there. I mentioned that when I feel like giving up I think of some of the most successful people and how they had to just keep going even after receiving their 100th rejection. Walt Disney was fired from one of his first jobs – he was told that he lacked imagination! JK Rowling spent five years writing Harry Potter books, she earned next to nothing during those years only for her to finish writing and be rejected by over 12 publishers! Tenacity and ‘bounce-back-ability’ are two things that you will need if you want to navigate through any career. Rejections are inevitable but whatever happens in life, whichever path you choose – Never ever ever give up on yourself.

     

  • Add value and the money will follow:

    Most people on the panel agreed that there were so many careers to choose from and it wasn’t necessarily a case of picking one career and then doing this for the rest of your life. What matters most was adding value in anything that you do and constantly thinking – what can I do to make a difference? What can I give? What skills, talents, gifts, strengths have I got? What will I enjoy? There were lots of examples of people on the panel that were working in roles that they hadn’t imagined when they were younger or creating technology that didn’t exist when they were at school. Ultimately, your communication, problem solving, team working, leadership skills and creativity are the most important skills. You may find yourself working in different countries, careers and industries but these are the things that would follow you for the rest of your life.

     

  • There is no point in being a starving artist:

    This wasn’t mentioned on Saturday but I thought it was important to add this as a final note. On Saturday, we had someone ask which jobs can help you make good money and the general response was that it depends on what you see as a good amount of money and also when it comes to your career – ‘It’s not all about the money’. Having said this, you still need to find a balance between how much you want to make and the career you choose. You may find a career that you love but you may have to stop because you aren’t being paid your worth. You may have to make a decision of not earning enough money in the first stage of your career with the goal of earning a lot more in the future eg. a career in music, acting, business, writing, sports or entertainment. The other problem is that some careers are hard to break into and this means that may not earn enough while you pursue your ‘art’ or ‘calling’. So my take on this is to talk to other people in that industry, make sure you get good grades at school as this will give you more options in the future, get a degree or another qualification, get as much experience as possible, be outstanding at what you do, think both short and long term and have a backup career plan. It’s not all about the money but it would be wrong for anyone to tell you to pursue your dreams without being realistic about your earnings.

Once again I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that joined us at our annual careers day. Don’t forget to subscribe to ‘In the know’ our Friday newsletter for parents, where you can stay up to date on work experience opportunities, summer schemes, top-tier apprenticeships and university scholarships for your child. Also, If you enjoyed reading this post, why not forward it to someone else?

We need to make sure students are well informed about their options post 16

We need to make sure students are well informed about their options post 16

Apprenticeships Careers Narrowing the gap Post 16 University Volunteer mentors What's new? Work experience Young people

Post 16 options

Every young person is required to be in some form of education or training from the ages of 16-18. These years can be an incredibly exciting period, as young people for the first time are in full control over what subjects and qualifications they take. It is an opportunity to begin specialising in certain areas/subjects and to truly begin down the road to independence and adulthood. We at GT Scholars think it essential for all students to know the options that are available to them post 16, so we’ve made a list to help young people make the right choice for themselves. There is most certainly something for everyone.

A levels –

A levels are the next step for many young people post 16. They are subject-based qualifications, taken at school or college, that open up a variety of options later on. Universities and employers hold A level qualifications in high regard. They are a particularly good stepping stone towards university, as they offer a bridge between the teaching styles of schools and universities. A levels are a great academic challenge and give students the chance to further enhance their knowledge of familiar subjects such as English, Maths, History etc, or perhaps to delve into subjects that they may not have come across at school, such as Psychology or Politics.

Vocational Courses –

Another college-based post 16 option are vocational courses. They are different from A levels in that they typically are more hands-on, practical qualifications. They are specialist qualifications which focus on specific subject and employment areas, a few examples from the long list being business, social care and hairdressing . Vocational courses can help students gain employment skills and also provide a path towards a variety of university courses. They are a respected and well-established option post 16.

Apprenticeships –

Apprenticeships are gaining popularity in the UK, as more and more young people are recognising their value as a legitimate alternative to A-Levels. They offer something very different; practical, hands-on experience in a workplace. The skills you gain through apprenticeships are mostly job-specific and offer a fantastic route towards eventual full-time employment in your industry of choice. As an apprentice you can gain qualifications whilst working and earning money. The scope of apprenticeships has widened in recent years, with roles now available in a wide variety of sectors from engineering to IT to business. The modern apprenticeship is a challenging, rewarding and dynamic post 16 option.

Below are a list of links with further information to help you make the right choice for you-

https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/info/your-choices-at-16
https://www.ucas.com/ucas/16-18-choices/getting-started/what-are-my-options
https://www.allaboutschoolleavers.co.uk/articles/article/100/post-16-options
https://www.connexions-tw.co.uk/moving-forward-options-post-16