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Starting anything from scratch is hard. That’s one of the reasons we built The Excelerator – to help guide 16 – 18 year through the process of exploring school leaver programmes, elite apprenticeships and university itself. That means helping you understand more about the types of careers you may be interested in, and ultimately, helping you actually get into the right job and/or into the university of your dreams.
Online we provide psychometric testing, professional training courses, and also the ability to submit your CV for feedback. But not everyone your age has a CV, and many of you who do, aren’t sure if it’s the right format, or in some cases, worry it’s not good enough for feedback. Firstly, we’re happy to offer feedback on whatever you have created so far, but first, we want to help you make it as good as it can be on your own.
So today (Monday 7th), we have just emailed all of you who submitted an expression of interest form to myself (Mark – the chap you saw present in your school!) with two CV templates, and this blog, to help you craft a great CV.  So here goes, here are our top tips:

1. Templates

We are big fans of starting with a template. They give you guidelines and a starting point, making it all the bit easier to begin saying nice things about yourself. We have emailed you a one and a two page template, both of which one of our staff (we won’t say who) swears by. She created them herself, using various other templates as guides, and has submitted both at different stages of her life, and has received multiple job offers from both. Check them both out, google lots yourself, and see what a) fits your personality b) your experience and c) try to customise it to make it your own. If a recruiter receives several CVs that all look the same it quickly becomes very underwhelming.

2. Length

Curriculum vitae - CV et compétences différentesWorried your CV isn’t long enough? Pffft – length has never been a measure of success for anything (aside maybe long jump). CVs are about demonstrating quality of experience. Quantity is just a bonus – recruiters don’t expect you have a huge variety of experience at this age. What they want is high quality, relevant experience. You say you’re interested in medicine, but have you worked in a GPs surgery? Hospital? What role did you occupy, and more importantly, what did you learn?
The other side of the length coin is the age old question: one or two page CV? I can honestly tell you the answer isn’t three and that’s for sure. I have thrown out three page CVs without reading a
word on them – no recruiter has time, and it makes you look like you waffle and lack precision. One pagers are very striking, hard hitting, and super concise. Two pagers allow for a wider range of experience and more in depth experience. You should ask yourself, “do I have enough to talk about that makes me look employable to fill two pages, or does my experience look stronger on one page?” Other than that, its a preferential/stylistic case. Some people swear by one, and others two. Just don’t do three.

3. Experience

Firstly, I don’t expect you to have held down a big important job, relax. At 16 – 18 I expect you to be in full time education. What I want to see is experience that you can relate to your goals and ideally the work you’re applying for. If it’s not directly related, take the time to explain how doing that helped you learn new skills and lead to you deciding to applying to my company.

If you’re worried you don’t have any experience at all, think laterally. Have you done volunteer work? Can you ask to shadow a friend of your parents? Does your school have links with companies you can use? Maybe even a dedicated career department? Have you actively looked yourself? My current business partner once tweeted one of the world’s most infamous marketeers – this guy – because he saw his TED talk. The assumption is why would he care, or he would be too busy, but he offered my business partner two days and full access to all his meetings. Needless to say learnt loads, and it makes for a great anecdote in interviews, whilst also demonstrating his go-getting, ambitious nature. Who can you reach out to in your industry?

4. Making yourself look and sound hireable/super awesome

Let’s be honest. As Brits, we find it hard talking about ourselves. CVs need to reflect well on you, without boasting. One of my favourite methods to achieve this is the STAR model, which can also easily be expanded on for interviews. Situation, task, action and results. By demonstrating what results you created through your actions, and the context behind it, I can discern for myself that you are a problem solving go-getter, or a detail orientated, inspiring leader of others. You don’t have to use this model, but I think it’s great. Be sure to research alternatives and settle on something that suits you.

5. Lastly, language

You can see from the header image of this blog some of the key buzzwords employees look for in CVs. Don’t play buzzword bingo dropping them willy-nilly all over the shop, but use them strategically. This article from Kent University is a great starting point for understanding what employers look for, and how to articulate these skills.

Ultimately, now is your chance to give it a go. We have a brilliant team with oodles of CV writing and reading experience. We promise they’ll be kind, and they’ll offer you really great ideas for improvement. So get cracking this weekend, have a go at writing or updating your CV, and be sure to submit it before our final deadline of March 31st to guarantee personalised feedback.

Next blog in this series

A guide to CVs… through the power of memes!