9 tips for people who have nothing on their CV

BS that CV

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Creating a CV is hard. Choosing the right font and layout can be incredibly difficult – never mind figuring out what to actually type.

But it's even harder if you're a student and haven't got a lot to work with. Sure, you had that stint in the fish and chip shop, your silver Duke of Edinburgh award, and you played violin for 3 months – but unless you use size 18 font, it won't be enough.

Luckily for you, there are plenty of tricks and tips you can employ to get you employed. Make the most of what you've got with our handy resume creating guide.

  1. 1 Brainstorm

    Alright kid, unlike your meals, essays, and lads' trip to Ibiza - you've got to plan. Start by making a rough list of your skills, accomplishments and achievements.

    This is where you can make your shitty part-time jobs really sparkle. Even if you're applying to be an accountant and all you've ever done is refill the buffet at Butlins, write about the universal skills you've developed. For example, working in a team, handling money, or dealing with customers.

    If you've never had a part time job, you can make your academic skills relevant. Write about how you consistently meet deadlines, have strong attendance rates, or even mention an essay or project you did that was well received.

    When brainstorming, write down as many ideas as possible - you can always narrow them down later.

  2. 2 Don't lie (much)

    It might be tempting to throw in an '09 summer volunteering job in Oxfam, but what will you do if you're asked for references?

    It's better not to lie about big things that could catch you out. Exaggeration, however, is the word of the day.

    Attended a school club? Bam, you were the manager. Taught the kid you babysat revise his maths SAT? Bam, tutored. Did an #icebucketchallenge? Bam, charity ambassador (okay, maybe not that one).

  3. 3 Show off your brains

    If your education is all you've got, then make it work for you! Don't list every single GCSE subject and grade - it makes it harder to digest. Instead, group them neatly, for example:

    3 As, including English and maths, 5 Bs, including science, 4 Cs.

    English, maths, and science are the key GCSEs employers will be looking for, though feel free to point out any grade that was relevant for the role. List your A-levels results above these, as CVs should be presented in reverse chronological order.

    Even if you haven't finished your degree, write down your current average grade, and discuss any achievements at uni that may be relevant to the role.

  4. 4 Go get some work experience

    NOW! It's pretty obvious: if there's nothing on your CV, go out and get the job done.

    Check out our jobs page for part-time work, graduate jobs, and internships. If your course is too intense for a job on the side, secure yourself an internship for the holidays. Get applying now to save yourself the worry.

    If you're finding your emails ignored: use your connections. Get some work experience in a family member's office, or ask to shadow someone you know at work. Even if you're not paid, it's a great way to bulk up your CV and also get yourself more comfortable in the world of work. Otherwise, try out volunteering; it's time to make that fake 2009 Oxfam experience into a 2015 reality.

  5. 5 Don't make it too long

    We get you're trying to bulk your CV up, but making a little into a lot doesn't impress anyone.

    It's better to have concise, clear sentences that outline your desirability rather than type out a first-person narrative of all your life experiences - give them the TL;DR version of events. Under no circumstances should your CV be longer than a page. Don't waffle (unless you're applying to work in a waffle shop, we guess).

  6. 6 Use examples

    If you're struggling to make up even half a page, provide your employer with some examples of your skills. If you said you're good at 'teamwork', briefly outline an example where this was true, be it in a uni project or part time job.

    If you're listing what you did at a part time job, don't just say the obvious. Everyone knows waitresses take orders, polish cutlery, and handle money. Provide specific examples of skills learnt or areas where you thrived. For example, 'trained members of staff', 'appeased difficult customers', 'managed time effectively in a fast-paced environment'. If you managed to 'upsell' food or drink or always get hefty tips - mention it.

    Similarly, if you had work experience in an office, don't just list 'sent emails' as a responsibility. Highlight what you achieved, not what you did, e.g. 'organised a weekly mail-merge to 300 recipients', 'made Barry's tea so well that he didn't send it back'.

    It's always better to provide concrete, impressive examples.

  7. 7 Lay it out efficiently
    CV example for graduates
    Source: thefilmorecv.co.uk

    Make it easy to read at a glance, and put all your best, most impressive bits at the top (no, don't attach a photo, that's weird).

    Start with your contact details (NOT your year 9 email address, okay sparkley.babee99?) a brief personal statement (more on that below), follow up with your education, jobs, skills and achievements, and hobbies. Add the names and contact details of referees if you have solid ones - but most employers will simply ask you for references at a later date.

    Check out these CV templates for examples.

  8. 8 Tailor a personal statement

    Open your CV with a few lines about yourself to bulk it up - but make it relevant to the job you're applying for. Ain't nobody out there give a shit that you like to play football with your mates, okay?

    Aim for a couple of simple sentences outlining what you've done, what you're doing, and what you hope to do. Use some killer buzz words (like 'results-orientated', 'transferable skills') but be careful not to do it.

    Also, unless you're trying to sound like you're writing in your Year One homework diary - avoid overuse of the personal pronoun 'I'. A good way to do it would be:

    'As a second year student at Liverpool University, I have maintained a strong 2:1 average whilst undertaking work experience with Natwest, McDonald's, and my mum's mate Beverly's garden. These placements have enabled me to learn transferable skills such as time management, customer service, and using a lawn mower.'

  9. 9 Don't admit you're shit

    It's really tempting to write sentences like 'despite my lack of experience' in your CV or covering letter: it seems like a good way to admit your faults whilst balancing them with the skills you do have.

    However, in reality it's a fast and easy way for employers to find out which CVs to bin. They often have lots to work through, and you've essentially just filtered yourself out.

    Instead, apply your skills to the role. For example, a waiter can say 'I have three years experience handling and counting money in a local restaurant' when applying for an accountancy role. Apply what you do have to disguise what you don't.