Creating a compelling CV
Now that your teenager has identified what they can use in their applications, you’ll need to help them understand how to include them in a good CV.
Writing a good CV make all the difference to their application success and teenagers will need to realise that it takes time to do. Getting it right from the start will make it easier for them to update as they progress. Use the guidance below to help them write a top notch CV.
Make sure that they set it out in a way that is easy to read using a typeface that is easy to scan read like we read newspapers looking for interesting articles. The employer should be able to tick off key points quickly so that they can get to the important stuff such as qualifications and experience.
Once they have written it, get them to check it for accuracy and spelling errors. Then get them to get someone else (ie you!) to check it again!
It needs to be no more than one or two sides of A4.
Make sure they realise that they need to keep it accurate and up-to-date. Encourage them to add in any new experience as they progress. They will also need to amend the content for the particular job they are interested in each time. A one size fits all CV won’t do. Encourage them to draw on examples of past work that are relevant that you helped them to identify earlier (see above) e.g. where they have worked in a team, made a real difference, introduced new ideas, achieved success etc.
Here are some examples of different types of CVs from the graduate website, Prospects, which your son or daughter can choose from depending on what they are aiming to apply for. Similarly, Reed.co.uk also offers some examples including downloadable templates for you to use.including CVs for school leavers and graduates.
A note of caution about other templates – they do not always show good practice and no one we know is called Curriculum Vitae so make sure your teenager doesn’t put it at the top and lose valuable space they could use to include more useful content! As far as recruiters are concerned, if it looks like a CV it is a CV!
Update: check out our separate advice on how to write a personal statement.
Competition for jobs among school leavers has never been keener so think of a covering letter as their way to stand out from the crowd. Because it’s an afterthought for so many applicants, a good covering letter is a simple but effective way to shine.
The covering letter works alongside their CV to land that crucial interview. It’s an opportunity to highlight to the reader a few key reasons why the recruiter should take your teen seriously. Done well, it can also communicate their personality and highlight specific details of their current situation which have not been covered in their CV. For example, they could use it to indicate that they are more than happy to relocate if the job is in a different area.
In most cases, the covering letter is the first contact applicants have with a potential employer – so ensure your teenager makes it count.
They will need to keep it relatively short as most employers don’t have the time to read through long-winded letters or CVs. Typically recruiters take around 30 seconds reading one so it needs to make good use of the important keywords which the role demands and are in the job description. Make sure that any important information, such as key skills, is on their CV. Then, all they need to do is ensure the letter confirms their interest in applying, introduces the CV and highlights any key points they want to emphasise including their motivation. Make sure that they use it to state briefly why they believe they are suitable for the role and what they will bring to the position, connecting their education and experience to the requirements of the role. Here’s how to help them understand how to put this essential document so it works for them:
Following up on Applications
Your teenager has sharpened up their CV and sent off their application but now they can’t stand the suspense. How soon is too soon to get in touch?
If your teenager learns the position has been filled, help them to stay upbeat by encouraging them to ask for constructive feedback. Not all organisations do this but it does provide a useful learning experience for those going into the workplace for the first time in particular. Also, encourage your teenager to let the recruiter know that they would appreciate being considered for future roles if that is the case.. This keeps the door open for your teenager to send a speculative CV when they have gained more experience.