How to write a CV straight out of school | Beginner's Guide

Looking for a job after finishing school...?

You may be stuck wondering where to start and how to write a CV to help you land that first job...

Trust us, writing an amazing CV when you have no work experience yet is simpler than you think.

In this guide, we're going to teach you how to create a CV that gets you the job you desire straight off the bat.

First, some basics...

What is a CV? (and why is it important?)

A CV, or curriculum vitae, is a document that lists your accomplishments and skills related to your professional life. It's a way for you to sell yourself to potential employers.

It should be a short written summary of your skills, achievements and experience that relate to the role you want. A CV is the most standard form for initially applying to a job role, so, you need one.

One of the most important parts of a strong CV is being able to demonstrate what you have accomplished thus far in your career.

This can be difficult when you have no work experience, but there are still plenty of things that you can include to make your CV stand out.

How long should a CV be?

Your CV should be one to two pages long, depending on your level of experience.

If you are a recent graduate or have very little work experience, one page should suffice.

Just like exams, it isn't about the quantity you write but the quality.

What to include in a CV

Contact Details

At the top of your CV, include your full name, address, email address and phone number.

If you have a professional LinkedIn profile or website, include these links as well.

Make sure that the email address you use sounds professional. Something like "" is solid.

Personal Statement

A personal statement is a short paragraph that sits at the top of your CV, just under your contact details.

It should give a brief overview of who you are as a person and professionally.

Include your aspirations, motivation and any relevant skills or experience you have just don't make it too long, keep it to around 4-5 lines.


In this section, list all of your relevant education and qualifications.

Start with your most recent and work backwards.

If you are a recent graduate, include the name of your degree, the institution you attended and when you graduated.

If you have any relevant coursework that may relate to the roles you are applying for, mention this too.

Work Experience (If you have any, include part-time and voluntary work)

In this section, you should list your previous roles in chronological order, starting with your most recent role.

For each role, include the following:

  • - The name and location of the company
  • - Your job title
  • - The dates you worked there
  • - A bullet point list of your responsibilities and key achievements

Skills and Achievements

In this section, you should list any skills that may be relevant to the roles you are applying for.

This could include anything from Excel and social media skills to teamwork and leadership experience.

You can also include any awards or achievements you have received, such as the Duke of Edinburgh awards, sporting achievements or honours for music and drama.

As a student, this will be one of your biggest sections because you don't have as much work experience to bolster your CV. So pick wisely!


This section is entirely optional, but it can be a nice way to show your personality and give potential employers an insight into who you are as a person.

Keep it short and focus on hobbies that may reflect well upon you or add value to your CV.

For example, if you are applying for a job in customer service, including that you are a people person would be beneficial.

If you are applying for an outdoor job, mentioning that you like hiking might also be relevant.


Many students get stuck on who they should include as references, so you are not alone.

As a general rule of thumb for those with job experience before, you should include two references: one academic and one professional.

An academic reference could be a teacher, tutor, lecturer or mentor who can vouch for your intelligence and work ethic.

A professional reference could be a previous employer, supervisor or someone you have done an internship with.

If you do not have anyone that can provide you with a professional reference then there is no harm in adding a second academic reference.

My advice, however, would be to make the roles of the academic references different. For example; one of them could be your maths teacher who has seen you predominantly in a classroom environment. Then the other, try to include a member of support staff, like a sixth form/college administrator or head of house who has interacted with you on a more personal level.

How to format your CV

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, there are some basic formatting tips that you should follow:

  • Use a professional-looking font (e.g. Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana)
  • Make sure your margins are consistent throughout the document
  • Use headings and subheadings to break up sections of your CV

There are 3 common CV formats that people use.

1) Reverse chronological format

This is the most popular CV format and is ideal for people with plenty of work experience that is relevant to the position they’re interested in. So may not be the best choice if you are coming straight out of school.

2) Functional/skills-based format

This is the most appropriate format for recent graduates and students straight out of school and relies heavily on conveying all the skills that you have acquired during your time in education.

3) Combination format

The combination CV is a great choice for job-seekers with a very diverse skill-set. It’s useful if you’re applying for a role that requires expertise in 3 to 4 different fields, and you want to show all that you can do. Say, for example, you’re applying for a senior management role, and the requirements are expertise in Management, Sales, and Software Development.

Which software should I use to make my CV?

The most common software used to create a CV is the old, reliable Microsoft Word. You can't go wrong with it. It will give you plenty of basic format options and will convey a nice simple aesthetic.

But if you want to add a little flair and some more customisation options then it is certainly worth looking into using something like Powerpoint or Canva. These programs offer a bit more flexibility when it comes to playing around with the layout and design of your CV.

What not to include in a CV