What is a CV and why do I need one?

A CV (also known as a Curriculum Vitae or résumé), is a written overview of your skills, education, achievements and work experience

It may be used for a variety of reasons, however, the most common of these is to send to prospective employers when looking for a job.

Don’t forget, your CV or application is your first opportunity to show yourself in your best light to a potential employer. In many ways, it is a sales document for you.

How to build your CV

Recruitment company, Pearson Whiffin have given us a series of presentations to help you to build a professional CV.  Sections are broken down into their component parts and each presentation has at least one activity to help you create the CV that is perfect for you:

One of the areas that pupils often find difficult to identify on their CV is non academic achievements. Your teachers have suggested some of the areas that you might want to think about:

Not all jobs or apprenticeships will require a CV; some will ask you to complete an online application. However, the information that they ask for will be the same as that on your CV so it is always useful to have an up to date CV to refer to. 

Two examples of how you might want to lay out your CV can be found here and here.

Applying for a job or apprenticeship

Once you have your CV, it is time to look for the right job or apprenticeship for you. There is plenty of information of where you might look for these elsewhere on this website and once you have found a job or apprenticeship that you’d like to apply for, please remember the following top tips from KATO, Kent Association of Training Organisations:

Interview skills

Being interviewed is a skill that can be practised. Ask your parents, carers or teachers to run mock interviews with you. Having several interviews will build your confidence and the process will then not feel so daunting.

Current Whitehat apprentices share their interview top tips with you:

Your interview process might consist of an interview, an assessment, an aptitude test or any combination of all three. The reason why employers ask for these is to ensure that they achieve the best candidate fit for their organisation. Equally, these are a perfect opportunity for you to see if this is the organisation that you want to work for; interviews are very much a two way process.

Your interview might be face to face, online or even on the telephone. Many organisations now run what are called assessment centres where groups of applicants will be asked to perform tasks and candidates are assessed against each other. Typically, the employer will look for candidates to demonstrate their abilities in team working, communication, leadership and problem solving.

Assessment centres

Many large employers will hold assessment days as part of their recruitment process. Target Careers have some great tips for school leavers on what to expect and how to prepare for success

Telephone interviews

The first part of your interview could be by telephone. Training provider, IPS International share their top tips on telephone interviews plus some commonly asked questions:

Aptitude tests

Some organisations prefer to use aptitude tests. You can try some free practise tests via this site:

Making a good 1st impression

Currently, many interviews are taking place online; however, the outline advice in this guide from recruitment company, Monster, still applies as regards how to best present yourself at interview and on good interview techniques. Please remember with social distancing measures, however, that handshaking is not required.

Remember to think carefully about how you want to present yourself at your interview.  A few questions that you might want to ask yourself could be:

  • Be prepared- ensure that you know, if it is a face to face interview, how to get to the place of your interview and leave plenty of time to get there. Similarly, if your interview is on line or on the telephone, be ready well in time.
  • Is your attire suitable for the role that you are being interviewed for? Ensure that you think about the employer expectations prior to your interview.