How to help a young person write their first CV

Preparing your students for the world of work is an important part of your role as a teacher, and that becomes very evident when it’s time to assist them in the writing of their first CV. Helping them establish the roles and industries that are right for them as well as encouraging them to discover their core skills to enhance their CV is crucial. Below are four main areas to highlight when helping a young person produce their first CV.

Determine Goals

For a candidate who is writing their first CV, they’ll require more guidance to establish their goals. Help them understand what they want to achieve from a career and the types of roles or industries they’re looking to apply for. It would also be wise to nudge them in the direction of your school’s careers advisor if you have one. Question their expectations and discuss how they want to progress. Support them to produce a personal statement that is directed to the industry of work they’re looking to pursue. Determine a clear direction that they’ll be able to use to approach the creation of their CV.

Research target employers

Awareness of sector specific skills and knowledge of a chosen industry may come more naturally for experienced candidates. But when a young person is applying for their first role they’ll require further assistance, navigating what is expected of their CV by employers.

Researching prospective employers will give an insight into the qualities, experiences or qualifications required for those types of roles. Looking at more senior roles within that same sector could also give them a model to work towards in their career. Direct them to company websites, job boards or company social media accounts and support them to pinpoint keywords that can be used to boost their CV.

Provide a clear structure and format to follow

When a candidate is producing their first CV, they’re unlikely to know how to correctly format their previous experiences in a way that will attract a hiring manager’s attention. Provide them with a clear structure to follow. Break down the CV into sections for them to use as a guideline including contact details, personal profile, work placements, education and any optional sections such as hobbies and interests.

Offer an overview of what should be included in each section and how to present the information using bullet points and headers. Candidates may be inclined to use larger text or images to fill out their CV but promote a clear CV structure that aids ease of reading.

Find their valuable workplace skills

Help candidates discover their marketable skills by tailoring your questions to find out what traits they have acquired through their education, work placements or extra curriculum activities. Young people may not understand that workplace skills can be gained outside of the work environment so discuss the qualifications they have achieved or the groups they have been involved within. Help them to bring forward specific examples of skills that would be relevant to the industry they are applying to as well as core skills that can transition into any given role.

Writing a CV is always a challenging task, but even more so when you are attempting it for the first time. Offer as much support as you can to your students in terms of resources, advice and feedback, and you should be able to guide them into career success. Offer group lessons as well as one-to-one to sessions to ensure that each student gets the tailored advice they need.

About the Author

Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter and founder of CV advice centre StandOut CV and a regular contributor to sites such as CV Library, The Guardian and Business Insider