The prospect of writing a school leaver CV can feel daunting. Where do you begin with no experience, or at least very little?
There is no need to stress writing a school leaver CV without experience. With the correct formatting and strategy, you can still create a CV that grabs the hiring manager's attention and helps you get that all-important interview.
At Resume.io, we have helped job seekers from all walks of life find their dream job – with or without experience. We have a wide range of CV examples you can choose from in various professions. You can also use our CV builder to help you create the perfect CV. We will help you get those thoughts down onto paper while making a real impact.
In this school leaver CV guide, together with the CV example, we will cover these topics:
- How to write your school leaver CV – including tips and tricks for making it impactful
- The best format to use for your school leaver CV
- Advice on how to make the most of each section of your CV
- Layout and design hints and tips
How to write a school leaver CV
There are various sections that are a must-have for your school leaver CV. The insertion of these will ensure that you cover all the key points of your skills and experience:
- CV header
- CV summary
- Employment History
Every hiring manager wants to feel that you have considered the role and the company, so you should aim to tailor your CV to suit the position you are applying for. As a school leaver, you are likely to be applying for a range of different roles in an array of industries, but even making minor tweaks will show that you are focused on the role you are applying for.
Do as much research as you can about the role, the company, and the hiring manager, and in this way, you will be able to get the tone right. Then, use our CV examples to inspire you to create your own.
Here is a tried and tested formula to use when writing your school leaver CV:
- Make sure the style and tone are adapted to suit the employer you are applying to.
- Ensure your school leaver's CV is professional and use a polished format to create the right impression.
- Consider that the employer may have an ATS (Applicant Tracking System), so use relevant keywords throughout your CV. You can find these on the job spec.
How much do school leavers earn?
The average salary for a school leaver in the UK is £16,622. The actual figure you can expect to earn will derive from factors like your qualifications, relevant experience, job location, and industry. You should always be paid at the national minimum wage, which is £7.49 from April 2023 for employees aged 18-20. Companies are legally obliged to pay this.
Choosing the best CV format for a school leaver
In most cases, the reverse chronological order, defined by the employment history section, is the favourable option. However, in the case of a school leaver, you may want to start with the education section since you are less likely to have experience.
You can make the education section more extensive than you would if you already had a lot of professional experience to fill your CV to at least one page in length. Although, two pages is ideal. Use our CV samples for additional guidance.
If you have any achievements from school that you are particularly proud of and feel would be relevant, you may want to consider creating an additional 'achievements' section. It will not only make your school leaver CV stand out a bit more, but it will also add to the length, making your CV more appealing.
CV summary example: your story so far
Your story is just beginning as a school leaver, but you still have a tale to tell. Beneath your name and contact details is where you will place your CV summary (otherwise known as profile), which is a short introduction to who you are and what has led you to apply for the role.
The summary section needs only two or three statements that show the expertise and skills you possess relevant to the role. You should avoid using 'I' when devising your statements. Instead, you should use action verbs, such as managed, demonstrated, or developed.
You may be looking for some inspiration when writing your summary so that you can take a look at our related CV samples such as our student CV sample and graduate CV example. You may also find useful information in our internship CV sample.
Enthusiastic individual with experience in delivering excellent customer service. Experienced in anticipating deadlines and coordinating complex schedules. Excellent computer skills and proficient in a range of data entry and calendar management software.
CV education example
As discussed in the guide, the standard format for a CV is usually the employment section situated after the summary. However, it would make more sense to start with your education with a school leaver CV, as this will be the most important.
With experienced candidates, the detail of school qualifications is usually irrelevant. However, with a school leaver CV, you should note the number of GCSEs/Highers (or equivalent) that you possess, including the grades. You can also add an achievement section under this if you have achieved anything that would make you stand out, for instance, an award for highest attendance, the best project in Year 1, and the like.
Westminster City School, London
September 2016 - June 2023
- Achieved 7 GCSEs (Art, History, Biology, Chemistry, English, French, Computing Studies)
- 3 A Levels (Computing Studies, Art and English)
Employment history sample: the next step
The employment history section can seem very tricky for a school leaver with little to no experience. Of course, you can't leave it blank, but how do you write about experience if you don't have any?
Any experience counts here so that you can use this section to detail unpaid work, volunteer work, or activities associated with clubs or sports. The focus should be to highlight transferable skills you have developed during these jobs or activities. For example, building relationships, providing excellent customer service, and developing communication skills.
You can use bullet points when describing the duties associated with these. Instead of using 'I' – for instance”'I babysat my neighbours children during school holidays”, you could say “responsible for attending to the needs of my neighbour’s children during evening hours”
Crew Member at McDonalds, London
December 2021 - Present
- Communicating with customers to deliver their orders and ensure satisfaction.
- Collaborating with other crew members to follow safety guidelines.
- Monitoring cleanliness of restaurant and executing general cleaning tasks.
- Balancing till and recording data in company software.
September 2021 - June 2022
- Responsible for taking care of multiple after school.
- Coordinating the children’s after school activities.
- Staying on top of children’s needs including cooking meals.
If you did not receive the qualifications to attend university, or you're not interested in going, you're not alone. Following the pandemic, a poll revealed that more than one fifth of school leavers planned to pursue a job rather than higher education.
School leaver CV skills example: leading the way
If you have little or no experience, you may want to focus on the soft skills you possess. Of course, it is better to have a mix of both hard skills and soft skills, but it will depend on whether you have been previously employed. Next, consider the skills you possess that might be relevant to the role. For instance, is the hiring manager looking for an excellent communicator? Do they need someone with great problem-solving skills? Use this section to hone your skills. Below you’ll find the skills from our CV sample.
- Coordination Skills
- Customer Service Skills
- Attention to Detail
- Team Player
- Data Entry
- Excellent Phone Manner
CV layout and design: creating a great first impression
With your school leaver CV, you are hoping to get to the interview stage, which involves writing great content and a clear layout and design. Hiring managers are not looking for your CV to be anything outlandish; they should just be easy to read, with clear, defined sections.
There is no need to complicate the design of your school leaver CV; keep it simple. The hiring manager may only read the cover letter for a mere second, so they should be instantly attracted to the design and style. Use our CV examples for inspiration on the CV layout and design.
You should always play to your strengths when writing your school leaver CV, which includes structuring it to highlight the most critical areas of your skills and experience. These, of course, must be relevant to the role.
Writing a CV always comes with challenges, and it's important that you get it right. We have a range of tried and tested CV templates that you can use to help you create your work of art. In addition, some of the less enjoyable tasks can be taken off your shoulders using our CV templates.
Key takeaways for a school leaver CV
- Before you get started on your school leaver CV, create a draft of the sections you'll like to include and the order.
- A school leaver CV should focus on the education and skills section, as the experience section may be non-existent or minimal.
- Tailor your CV to the role you are applying to and the company; even minimal changes will help make it more appealing.
- Use a simple, straightforward CV design to attract the hiring manager's attention.
- Use our online CV maker to make your CV creation seem effortless.