When it comes to applying for jobs using a CV, school students sometimes find themselves in a catch 22 situation. You might know you have the skills required for the jobs, but struggle to back them up with experience.
As a school student, your time is obviously limited and if you haven’t had a job before, you’re even more restricted in what you can say on your CV. So what do you do?
This post provides you with five practical ways that you can improve your CV by gaining work-related experience while you’re still at school.
1. Get involved in extra-curricular activities
You might not be aware of it, but your school has a heap of activities that you can take part in that will help you gain valuable experience. Some of the best activities to consider signing up for include:
- Student mentoring programmes (shows responsibility).
- Sports clubs (shows you’re a team player).
- Event organising (shows that you’re organised).
- Student committees (shows that you have passion).
Above all, what these activities show is that you have initiative. Most employers are aware that young people find it difficult to get their first break and will appreciate the effort you’ve taken to gain as much work experience as you can.
'Get work experience and highlight unusual skills to set your CV apart'
2. Consider volunteering for a few weeks
A great way to improve your working experience is to volunteer for a few weeks.
And we’re not just about the local charity shop.
If you have a particular type of job in mind that you’d like to do, why not search for companies within that industry and request to do a couple of weeks volunteering with them? The company will benefit from having an extra pair of hands for a few weeks, and you’ll benefit from improving your knowledge, understanding and experience, which will look great on your CV!
Finding volunteering opportunities is easier than you think. The first place you should start looking is in your local area. Drop by some of the places that you wouldn’t mind working in for a few weeks and ask if they have the capacity to take you on as a volunteer.
If you don’t have any luck in your local area, try searching online. There’s a heap of volunteering websites out there that list opportunities all across the UK.
3. Look for work experience placements
The next logical step up from volunteering is to look for work experience placements. Although these can be hard to come by, they will give you the chance to experience what it’s like being involved in the day-to-day running of a business.
Some work experience placements are paid and some aren’t, but you should aim to make a good impression all the same. In some cases, work experience placements can lead to full-time or part-time job offers.
We recommend that you take every opportunity you can to help out during your placement, this way you’ll have lots of experience and activities to talk about when it comes to updating your CV. You’ll also have a valuable reference that you can use when applying for full or part-time jobs.
You should check out the work experience placements on our site.
4. Mention your academic achievements
Most people list their GCSE and A-level results, but very few make the effort to make their qualifications stand out. For example, if you’ve been highly commended for a particular project or assignment, why not mention it on your CV?
Although your CV should follow a set structure, you should also do what you can to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
If you’ve received any special recognitions or awards, or have been part of a team that has been successful, make a point of mentioning it on your CV and demonstrate how the skills you used are transferable to a work situation.
5. Draw attention to your online skills
Regardless of what industry you’re looking to get into, having a good working knowledge of the online world is hugely beneficial. Companies in all different industries now have an online presence, so if you have a particular skill set that could help, you should definitely mention it on your CV, even if it doesn’t directly relate to the position you’re applying for.
Perhaps you’re a programming whizz, or are really good with Excel spreadsheets? These types of skills can prove invaluable to companies that don’t have employees who are well-versed in online matters.