Seriously. People value their time incredibly highly, and recruiters will skim CVs in 10 seconds and get a good understanding of who you are. Nothing says you aren’t concise and organized like a three page CV.
Don’t panic about crafting the perfect CV. Write it, get feedback from your parents. Edit it, get feedback from us here at The Excelerator when you submit online. Edit again, do an exchange with friends and offer each other feedback. It is a continuous process of evolution and getting better at describing your experience and most importantly, your successes and biggest challenges.
Having said that, I expect spelling to be perfect. A grammar error I can forgive if it’s a one off, but I don’t expect them. To put this into context, if you can’t find the time to spellcheck, or get a parent, or friend to proof read your CV, that screams you won’t work hard when faced with challenges in this job. So you’re out, regardless of experience.
Regardless of whether you’re an overachiever, or worried you don’t have much experience, you need to ensure you brilliance is in fact captured in a CV. Recruiters regularly encourage thinking laterally. Don’t just explain who you worked for, explain why you were hired, and whether you achieved that purpose. This applies to voluntary work too. Explain how you fundraised, how much, and what that has enabled the charity to do because of your work. Have you mentored pupils in the year below? Captained a sports team? Is your attitude as team player what lifts spirits or stops your team becoming complacent? If you honestly can’t think of anything, ask your friends, teachers, or parents.
Let’s be honest. Aged 17, those of us who have held down jobs have often held down jobs we never want to do again. Long shifts in dingy shops, call centers, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter, so long as you can relate it to what your applying to. Demonstrate how the skills you learn are transferable. E.g. working in a team, to tight deadlines, dealing with difficult customers, managers, or high-pressure scenarios. That’s what I’m interested in. When you’re aged 18, I know I can train you in whatever field I work in. What I can’t/don’t have time to train you in are things like manners, work attitude, problem solving skills, ability to take risks, inspire people etc.
I will Google you. I don’t care what you do in your spare time – odds I do similar things. But if I see drugs, you’ll never work in my company. Ever. If I see you in a compromising position, I probably won’t hire you. If I see you swearing profusely, or behaving in any way that I deem inappropriate, I won’t hire you. If you’re having fun, with mates, or sharing and tweeting interesting things, then you become a stronger proposition than someone with a blocked profile. In this day an age, open is better than closed, but it’s up to you.
Great! You’ve written a class CV, you’ve sent it off (I always label mine Mark Corbett CV, and send as a PDF), and now you wait. Well, there is a method to waiting. Find out when the closing date is, submit early (some jobs close early because they find the right person), and then follow up. If it’s directly to an individual, and they don’t acknowledge they received your CV send a charming email checking they received it and that you look forward to hearing from them. If it’s online, get the email of the recruiter, and follow up if they miss the point when they say they’ll get back to you. Keen is always better than passive. And if people don’t reply to emails, call them. Odds are they are just busy. When you get an interview, always follow up the same day as the interview thanking them for the opportunity, how much you enjoyed learning about the company, and that you look forward to hearing from them. Keen is good. Be keen. Seize your opportunity for a great apprenticeship.