Forget exam grades! Seven things that every teenager needs on their CV

Are you finding it difficult to find paid employment? Would you like to increase your employability and chance of interview success? Do you wish to make your college or university application more competitive? Here are the seven things that you need on your CV to get ahead of the rest!

We might be in the middle of an international pandemic but the wheels of employment and university applications are still turning. New types of roles are continually emerging in the job market and traditional recruitment methods are rapidly changing. 

You may be feeling helpless, frustrated and unmotivated, especially when you look at your future career prospects in these uncertain times but there has never been a better time for you to increase value to yourself, beat the competition and achieve that first post-lockdown job or desired college place.

Times of trouble always spur some people into action and give them an opportunity to showcase their character and personality. Let’s discover what you could be doing to make the most of your time in lockdown and improve your future employment prospects.

Seven things that every teenager needs on their CV

So, what do you need to include in your CV? Here are the categories which will not only improve your life experience, but also provide an incentive for employers and university admission teams to select you above your peers.

1) Leadership and responsibility

Holding positions of responsibility and taking on leadership rolesare great for demonstrating your proactive, trustworthy and reliable character – valuable attributes on many employers’ wish lists.

Examples include sports team captain, chair of a committee, babysitting, school prefect, charity event organiser, running a campaign on a local issue, fundraising, youth organisation participation and cash handling in a part-time job.

2) Awards, qualifications and skills 

There are numerous personal development opportunities for young people, both in and outside school, and including these on your CV can show employers how wide and diverse your interests, achievements and experiences are.

Examples include sporting awards, music grades, first aid courses, youth organisation badges, Duke of Edinburgh scheme and creative arts participation.

3) Work experience

Opportunities for teenage employment have drastically decreased during the pandemic as many of the industries which they traditionally work in are closed, for example, hospitality. Therefore, not many interviewers would be expecting to see recent employment on their CV.  

If you are one of the lucky ones to have found a part-time job then make sure you include it, detailing your roles and responsibilities. If you are not currently working, think of any recent examples of unpaid work you have been involved in and consider how you can transfer those skills onto your CV. For example, gardening for a neighbour or delivering food parcels from a food bank.

4) Volunteering / fundraising / charity work / social activism

More and more young people are now involved in issues that they have a passion for, such as the environment or homelessness. In addition, within school and colleges, lots of charitable and fundraising events are organised by the students.

Volunteering within local communities is also proving to be a popular option for many young people. Think back to your involvement in any of these activities, what you achieved and consider how you can include them on your CV. 

5) Travel

You have probably had to cancel recent holiday plans but travel demonstrates a spirit of adventure, a wider world view and high self-confidence. Include all those school trips and family holidays you’ve previously been on, in addition to local as well as international travel.  

Other good examples include Duke of Edinburgh and youth organisation expeditions, voluntary work and educational experiences overseas. Travel is a great interview topic as everyone likes talking about their latest holiday! 

6) Youth organisations / sports / clubs

Groups and activities outside of school provide great opportunities for personal development, travel, friendship, and developing your confidence, communication and leadership skills.

Membership of a youth organisation, sports team or club can really help to improve your soft skills and demonstrates to your future employer your motivation and team player qualities.

7) Hobbies and interests

As you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s not just your academic achievements that are important. What you do in your spare time can give a real insight to your personality, what your values are and how you would fit into the workplace.

Make sure you include anything you do that can promote your suitability as a credible candidate. Be proactive, seek opportunities and don’t forget to shout about what you’re doing!

Start building your CV today!

If you have lots of the above examples to include in your CV then get started on designing that attention-grabbing masterpiece. If not, look at what is available in your local area and online, assess where the gaps are in your experience, get out there and start getting involved. Make sure it’s safe, fun and most of all, grab every opportunity that comes your way.

Remember – whatever you include on your CV must be the truth and be ready to discuss any of the details at your interview. Good luck!

Would you like to start 2021 with focus, motivation and achievable goals? If so, download the free course “Start 2021 with confidence” now.

Caroline Would is a RAF veteran and founder of AD ASTRA Coaching Mentoring Training, which “unlocks the confidence, happiness and potential of young people”.

She provides confidence-building 1:1 programmes, workshops and online training courses for schools and organisations in the UK and across South East Asia and her clients include Hollywood actors, TV presenters, senior corporate leaders, artists, graduates, stressed-out parents and young people aged 8 – 18.

Caroline also runs a free mentoring and confidence-building programme for year 11 girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, funded by local businesses and organisations.

Photo by Warren Wong