When your career is just getting started, writing a CV can be discouraging. It feels like you have nothing to put on your CV yet. You just finished your education, did an internship and maybe some part-time jobs that do not seem very relevant for the job you applying to. But don’t be discouraged, most recruiters do not expect you to have an extensive CV when you are applying to an entry-level job. Your competitors will have an equal amount of experience to put on their CV. Nonetheless is the CV still an important document for entry-level jobseekers. Your CV is probably the first impression you will make and the first opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates.
Focus on Competencies and Skills
Later in your career your employment history and experience will be the driving force of your CV. Unfortunately this is not yet the case when you have just graduated. As an entry-level candidate your experience is probably limited to internships and part-time jobs. Luckily recruiters are not expecting you to have extensive experience when you are applying for an entry-level job.
In your early career is best to focus on the competencies and skills you have developed. Even a part-time job that seems irrelevant may have helped you develop important competencies and skills that can be relevant for your next job; helping customers, working together in a team, selling or planning for example. If you have had part time jobs that are not relevant, you can still mention them on your CV, but instead of writing in detail about all the tasks, focus on the skills that can be relevant.
Extracurricular activities can also have helped you to develop relevant skills. Extracurricular activities like voluntary work or non-profit work for (student) organizations can help you to stand out. Besides the tasks you have done and the skills you have developed with the activities, they also give information about your personality.
Add a personal profile and a skills section to your CV
Another way to add information about your personality on your CV is to add a personal profile section to your CV. A personal profile is a short personal summary. In just a couple of sentences you summarize your experience/education, your competencies and skills. A personal profile also gives you the possibility to add information about your personality on your CV. For an entry-level candidate sharing information about your personality can be important to differentiate yourself from other entry-level candidates. You can add a personal profile at the top of your CV.
Adding a special “Skills” section gives you the opportunity to give more information about important skills like; computer skills, communications skills, language skills, etc. Most job posts have a detailed job description with an overview of the skills required. Make sure to add the required skills to your skills section when they are applicable for you.
CV Format and lay-out
In general it is best to write your CV in a reverse chronological way. This means you start with the most recent work experience and you end with the oldest information. Only when you are fresh out of college without any work experience, or when the education is the most important requirement for the job you are applying to, you should start your CV with your education. Make sure to keep your CV short, stick to an one page CV. Don’t try to lengthen your CV by adding irrelevant information, it is better to have a short CV with a clear lay-out. We also don’t recommend to use big fonts to fill the page, a font-size of 11 is perfect. Use bold headers to mark each section and use white space to clearly separate the sections from each other.
Don’t forget the details
In the last years our day to day communication has become more and more informal. Spelling mistakes may be no big deal in your day to day text messages, but in a job application spelling mistakes can be devastating for your first impression. Recruiters expect you to put an effort into your CV and to make sure your documents are spotless. They are not concerned about your ability to write or your grammar skills, they see spelling mistakes as a signal that you did not pay attention to details or they may think you are a sloppy person. Don’t just rely on spell check, reread your documents several times and ask family or friends to proofread your documents as well.
Looking for an entry-level CV Template? Check out our CV Templates. Most of our CV template have a lay-out with space reserved for a personal profile and a skills sections. Out CV templates are fully editable, if you want to change the order of the sections, you can just change the headers or move the section.