What makes a winning CV?

What makes a winning CV? What makes a winning CV? What makes a winning CV? What makes a winning CV?

Helping young people feel confident to take their first steps into the world of work is important. This will help them present themselves better and get their skills and strengths across to an employer effectively.

A useful starting point in building your child’s confidence with job applications is to look at how they can create a great first impression with an impactful CV. Before beginning the task, watch the video below with your child to see why a winning CV is so important, and the information they’ll need to include.

The activity below will help your child recognise what goes into a standout CV by getting them to play the role of the employer. You can either complete this with your child (don’t worry if you’re not an expert, just follow the pointers below), or they can use the worksheets independently. 

What makes a CV stand out?

 Your child can think of a CV as an advertisement. TV adverts have just a few seconds to grab our attention and persuade us to buy something, and it’s the same with CVs. Employers may take just moments to skim over a CV and decide whether or not they want to interview a candidate.

Start by using the the Play the Boss interactive tool which challenges your child to choose the CVs that they think would be picked for the job, and those that wouldn’t. Once the ‘start’ button is clicked, they’ll have 10 seconds to give each CV a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Chat through the below prompts around the speed of making decisions and the quality of a CV. Some recruiters might use AI as they are often looking at hundreds of CVs for that one role.

  • What do they think the impacts could be of making important decisions in such a short space of time?
  • What did they find appealing or off-putting when deciding to give thumbs up or thumbs down?
  • What did they think of the first few lines or even the colours used?

Hopefully this will have given them some useful pointers when writing or fine-tuning their CV to make it concise and professional.

What goes into a great CV?

Chat through what sort of information a CV should contain, this could include:

  • Name and contact details
  • Skills and personality traits that show they match the job description advertised
  • Education and qualifications
  • Past jobs and work experience

To help your child see how these different elements work together, show them the sample CVs included on the worksheet.

Explain that there is one sample CV in chronological order that arranges the information according to the time it occurred, and another one which is skills-based that arranges the information with the most important skills, experience, and qualifications first. 

Ask your child why they think you might use one style over the other. For example, a job advert may specify that the successful candidate needs a certain amount of experience in a sector or industry, so it would make sense to organise their experience chronologically.

Personal statements

Finish up by asking your child to draft their own personal profile – also called a personal statement. Use the example from the sample CVs to give them an idea of what could go into their own personal statement.

Once they’ve finished, ask them to read their profile back to themselves. What might an employer think of it? Considering this could also come in handy if they are completing a UCAS application, traineeships or apprenticeship.