How to write a CV if you’ve never really had a proper job before

Living off the bank of mum and dad has its downsides

Uni is supposed to set you up for the adult world and your future career. But, when you’ve never actually been taught how to write a CV, it can be hard to stay optimistic. Especially, when you realise there are thousands of other students all applying for the same job too.

So, how do you make your CV stand out when your main extracurricular activities at uni are yeeting VKs and procrastinating coursework??

Don’t panic, it’s not as hard as you think. There are generations of successful students who’ve also finished uni with a barely functioning liver and still managed to get a great grad job – it’s all about the presentation of the facts.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to write a CV that makes you look great:

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Step 1: Choose your format


There are two main types of CV: The chronological CV and the functional CV.

What is a chronological CV? – Chronological CVs are good for people who have previous work experience to talk about. These are the traditional looking CVs, with work experience and education listed in date order with the most recent at the top and the oldest at the bottom.

Even if you don’t have work experience that directly matches the role, you can pull out specific instances that are relevant. For example, if you’ve worked behind the bar at the local pub you can talk about how you’ve gained experience working in a high-pressured environment (think rush orders at Happy Hour) and have learnt how to solve problems in a calm and clear manner.


What is a functional CV? – Functional CVs focus on skills, rather than work history. These CVs are good if you have a variety of odd job experiences (a day or two here and there) or no experience at all. These CVs list out key skills (e.g. teamwork, time management, conflict resolution etc.) and then bullet point examples of when/ how you developed them.


Step 2: Write it


Every CV should always include your name, contact details, a summary statement (like a short personal statement – these are good if you’re degree doesn’t directly relate to the role you’re applying for), education, work experience/skills and interests.

Whatever you end up including, make sure it’s true and don’t lie. It can be tempting to bend the truth but, at the end of the day, these employers aren’t idiots. If you can’t show proof of a skill in an interview, don’t pretend you have it on your CV.

If you’re struggling to start, or want a visual guide on how to write a CV, use a CV template – you can find some good ones here

Ideally, limit your CV to one page. Employers don’t have time to read your entire life story. Also, don’t include a photo of yourself (limits the potential for discrimination) and please please pleeaase use a normal font and not something “artsy” and illegible.


Step: Proof


Make sure you reread your CV again and again. Then, when you can no longer face ever seeing it again get your parents to read it, your friends, maybe even your tutor? One spelling mistake and employers will push your CV aside for one with better grammar.


So that’s it. Not too difficult after all. The trick is to get started ASAP so you’re not frantically writing one with only two hours left until the application deadline closes. You’ve got this.


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