For many students, part-time work has become a necessity as the cost of living rises. If you’re having trouble finding a job, don’t worry – it’s a common problem, but there are various ways to make your  job application stand out. One of the most important things to get right is your CV. This is often the first impression an employer has of you, and it can make or break a job application. If you’re looking for your first job, you’ve likely never made a CV before and might not know where to begin. That’s why I’ve compiled my top tips and advice in this article. Whether you’re building a CV from scratch or tweaking one you already have, you’ll find some useful pointers to help you out. Read on to learn how to create an effective and impressive work experience CV!

What should I include in my work experience CV?

What should I include in my work experience CV?
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If you’re just beginning to create your CV, you might find the blank page daunting. There’s a lot of contradictory advice going around about what a CV should contain, but there are a few essentials that every CV needs to include. So if you’re stuck for content, just consider these three categories: education, work experience, and other skills or achievements. You might want to include your hobbies and interests as well, but that’s not so necessary.

1. Education

This category is pretty self-explanatory – provide a brief summary of your education so far, along with any relevant qualifications. Include your GCSEs (or equivalent), the name of the school you did them at, and the grades you got. If you’re pressed for space, you can choose to only include your Maths and English grades, as those are the most important. You should then include your A-Levels (or equivalent), listing your subjects and grades along with the name of your school. These are likely to be the most advanced qualifications you have so far. If you do have any other qualifications, make sure you include them too!

2. Work Experience

No work experience CV would be complete without, well, work experience! Don’t panic if you don’t have much, or any, experience – it’s common for students, and it won’t stop you from getting a job. If you’ve done any part-time work during school, here is where you should include it. Make sure to include your job title, the dates you worked, the company you worked for (if applicable), and what your responsibilities were. An example might look like this:

June 2022 – May 2023

Shop Assistant and Cashier at Primark. Responsibilities included:

-Assisting and greeting customers

-Ensuring quality of stock

-Keeping surfaces clean and organised

-Handling cash and carrying out transactions

You should include all the experience you have so far. You’ll probably be applying to retail and customer-facing jobs, so a lot of skills will be transferable. If you worked somewhere for less than six months, you might want to leave off the dates – potential employers might think you won’t be staying with them for long. Volunteering experience should also go here – if you’ve ever tutored children, coached football games, or helped out in a charity shop, you should definitely add it to your CV! Employers know that most students won’t have much work experience, so they won’t expect you to have done lots of paid work.

If you don’t have anything to write about, it’s a good idea to start volunteering now. Most charity shops are happy to take on volunteers, and you might also have some luck in libraries, care homes, and animal shelters. Far from being just something to put on your CV, volunteering will teach you so many skills and provide you with a way to give back to your community. For students with no experience, volunteering is also the perfect stepping stone to paid work.

3. Skills and Achievements

Do you play an instrument, or speak multiple languages? Here is where you should mention it! Any kind of award, certification, or unique experience can also go here. Let employers know if you’ve ever won any competitions, passed ABRSM exams, done a Duke of Edinburgh award…the list goes on. Even if your skills won’t be relevant to the jobs you’re applying for, employers like to see that applicants are well-rounded and dedicated. You can keep this section short, just a bullet point or so per achievement.

4. Hobbies and Interests

This section is optional, but it doesn’t hurt to include it. Especially for those without much work experience, adding hobbies and interests can be a great way to show employers a little more about yourself and what motivates you. If your CV is looking pretty empty, this is one of the ways you can make it seem a little more impressive. Just make sure not to include anything too controversial! Some good hobbies you could include are reading, playing sports, and anything creative.

How should I format my work experience CV?

What should I include in my work experience CV?
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There are many different ways you could format your CV. You’ll find lots of templates freely available online, and you can also create your own if you prefer. But before you get too creative, remember that there are some basic design rules that just about every CV should conform to.

Layout and Structure

In terms of layout, it’s important to have your name and contact details clearly visible at the top. You should then divide your CV into at least 3 separate sections, one for each of the areas mentioned above. The ideal order is education first, then work experience, and finally skills or hobbies, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule – if you think a different order would work better for you, you can be a little flexible here. Just make sure you keep the most important parts closer to the top, as that’s what an employer will read first. When setting out your work experience, start with your most recent role and put any older jobs closer to the bottom. The same is true for education – put your most recent (or most advanced) qualifications first.

Design and Visuals

Remember that since this is a work experience CV, it has to look professional. That means no bright colours or wacky fonts. Keep everything in black and white, and choose a sensible and easily readable font such as Times New Roman or Arial. Finally, remember to read it over carefully. Typos make a really bad impression on a potential employer! Make sure you also check that your formatting is consistent: for example, all text should be in the same font, all headings should have the same font size, etc.

how to build a good cv for your first student job
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Applying for jobs can be daunting, but with a strong CV, you’re making your odds so much better. Keep in mind that a CV alone only goes part of the way towards getting you  job, though – why not take this opportunity to brush up on your interview skills? The STAR method is a popular way of answering questions, and it helps you sound much more confident and focused during interviews.

If you’d like more tips and advice, there are so many resources available online. Check out this free CV template if you’re still not sure where to start. And if you’re a recent graduate, have a look at the best graduate schemes in the UK to help you focus your job applications. There are so many graduate schemes and internships out there, so if you do your research, you can find a really good one to benefit your career and get paid.