As a school leaver you are unlikely to have a significant amount of work history to include in your CV. Many resumes concentrate on career experience and rightly so, as this is what an employer expects to see. However, as a school leaver, organisations will not have the same expectations of you. This means that if you can surprise an employer by coming up with some unexpected achievements, you will really make your CV stand out. So how do you do this?
To paraphrase President Kennedy, “Ask not what your company can do for you, but what you can do for your company”. In other words, employers are not job programmes and their interest is really on what value you can bring to their organisation. Therefore you must focus your CV on your key strengths and try to communicate how these will benefit an employer.
Include all details relating to any awards or recognition you have received. Some common examples include Duke of Edinburgh Awards, sporting achievements or school prefect duties. When you are describing these elaborate on the details but concentrate on the facts of your achievements. For example:
- Represented ABC High School at football, playing in the senior first eleven and participating in a championship winning team, the first in the school’s history.
- Achieved a silver Duke of Edinburgh award, requiring working as part of a three-person team to navigate across difficult terrain in the Scottish Highlands.
Part-time or Voluntary work
Any such activities are well worth highlighting on your CV. Specify your job title followed by the name of the organisation, location, and the dates of your involvement. Next describe your main activities using bulleted format and try to present these as achievements. For example:
Retail Assistant: Tesco Plc. Brighton, West Sussex Sep 2010 – Aug 2012
- Provision of excellent customer service levels as demonstrated by winning ‘Customer of the Month’ on three occasions;
- Successfully coordinating replenishment of dairy products to ensure stock on display remained at 95 percent capacity while wastage was maintained at less than 10 percent;
- Using initiative to suggest improvements to branch performance – evidenced by take-up of my suggestion to introduce ‘Breakfast Specials’, where customers received a free piece of fruit when purchasing £5 worth of breakfast items. Resulted in an estimated increase in sales volume of 10 percent for this time slot.
Include the details of your school(s) and the years you attended. In addition, depending on how you performed in your examinations you can also include the number of GCSE and ‘A’ levels you achieved, together with the subjects. However, only include details that will reflect well on you.
For example, this student achieved a good result in their English ‘A’ level but only passed another and failed the third subject. But they can present this as follows:
ABC High School, Andover, Hants 2010 – 2012
2 ‘A’ Levels including English (B)
Comprehensive Secondary School, Farnham, Hants 2007 – 2010
6 GCSEs including Mathematics (B) and English (B)
In this way the student is highlighting their best results while drawing the reader’s attention away from poor subjects.
This final section is useful for providing a little more information about you. Try to elaborate on the facts to help paint a picture for the reader. For example:
I run twice a week to keep fit, jogging through Hadley Wood in a five-mile circuit.
This can help to make you sound much more interesting as a candidate.