School Leaver CV: Template & How to Write (+10 Examples)

Entering the workforce is an exciting, sometimes scary and often oddly magical and fundamentally weird experience. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate because of your lack of experience. As a 16-year-old school leaver it’s entirely possible that you have no work experience at all.

 

The trick is to realise that everyone has to start somewhere. Literally everyone had no experience at some point, and employers are very aware of this. You should also realise that you’re not competing with people who have 5+ years of work experience. You’re competing with people just like you.

 

Your lack of experience isn’t holding you back, but a poorly written CV certainly could. Check out the school leaver CV example below. Read on for a step-by-step guide to writing a school leaver CV that’s at least as good as this one and give yourself the best possible start.

 

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School leaver CV template

 

Joe Kirby

077 2222 2222

joe.kirby@lcmail.co.uk

linkedin.com/in/joekirby22

 

Personal statement

 

Self-motivated second year A-level student looking for opportunity to broaden sales experience. Recently helped the RSPCA reduce stale stock by 15% by tracking basic sales data. Seeking to develop sales skills as a call-center consultant while helping Rosco LLC achieve its market penetration goals.

 

Work experience

 

Volunteer Sales Assistant

RSPCA Charity Shop, Brighton

July 2019—present

 Took payments in the form of cash, credit, debit and gift cards and balanced a till of up to £600.

  • Helped as many as 20 customers make their purchases at each shift.
  • Assisted in the unloading, sorting and shelving of 15 major deliveries of donated stock.
  • Created an interconnected set of spreadsheets to track sales and improve stocking efficiency by over 20%.

 

Education

 

A-levels: English, Geography, Mathematics, September 2019–June 2021 (expected graduation date)

Derby High School, Brighton

 

8 GCSEs (including Mathematics and English), September 2017–June 2019

Derby High School, Brighton

 

Skills

 

  • Ability to work unsupervised: frequently staffed the till without any supervision.
  • Punctuality: maintained a 100% on-time record.
  • Time management: found time to complete tasks such as stock-taking and tidying up in spite of a constant stream of shoppers.
  • Customer service: answered customers’ questions and handled returns in a friendly and professional manner.
  • Sales-related IT solutions: used a till and card terminal as well as basic account-keeping and invoicing packages.

 

Languages

 

  • Japanese: Intermediate

 

Awards

 

  • Runner-up, Nihongo / Japanese Poetry Recital Contest, London, 2019

 

Here’s how to write a school leaver CV:

 

1. Write a good school leaver CV personal statement

 

You’ll no doubt come across a lot of advice regarding eye contact, a firm handshake and a clear, confident speaking voice when it comes to preparing for your job interview. The idea there is to make a good first impression. Only that’s not the first impression you’ll make—your school leaver CV is.

 

Your school-leaver CV personal statement (also sometimes called a personal profile) is where you’ll summarise your experience (if any), your relevant skills and qualities, and generally what you have to offer your new employer. It’s where you’ll start making a case for why they should choose you.

 

The most important takeaway from this whole article is that your CV is a summary of what you have to offer the company, not a list of things you’d like to gain by working for the company. Even if it seems like you’re describing your goals, you’re really showing that your goals line up with the company’s goals.

 

How do you know what a given company’s goals are? Check its website, especially its vision and mission, and any recent press releases or news articles. Every for-profit company’s ultimate goal is to make as big a profit as possible. Lowering its costs, raising its revenue or saving it time are all ways to do this.

 

You’ll be writing a new school leaver CV personal statement for each new job application you send out, so the more you can ‘automate’ the process, the better. Take a total of 3–4 sentences (or 50–150 words) to answer all the questions below:

  • What kind of school leaver are you? Are you currently studying?
  • If you have some work experience already, then how much and in what field?
  • What’s your most impressive achievement (at work, while volunteering, etc.)?
  • What do you hope to achieve in this job? (For your employer, not so much for yourself.)

 

If you have no experience at all and hence no achievements to draw upon, then replace the second and third parts above with a belief statement. A belief statement is where you very briefly explain how your values and goals line up with the company’s stated values and business goals.

 

Your application, including your school leaver CV, is likely to be passed through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before a human being properly lays eyes on it. Give it the best possible chance of getting through by mentioning the name of the company and job title and mirroring keywords from the advert.

 

Your school leaver personal statement will be much easier to write after you’ve prepared the work experience (if applicable) and skills sections of your school-leaver CV. So keep it in the back of your mind for now and come back to it later.

 

School leaver personal statement example

 

Self-motivated and hard-working second year A-level student looking for opportunity to broaden sales experience. Recently helped the RSPCA reduce stale stock by 15% by tracking basic sales data. Seeking to develop sales skills as a call-centre consultant while helping Rosco LLC achieve its market penetration goals.

 

A strong CV summary will convince the recruiter you’re the perfect candidate. Save time and choose a ready-made personal statement written by career experts and adjust it to your needs in the LiveCareer CV builder.

 

Create your CV nowcv builder

 

2. Present any experience you do have the right way

 

Experience isn’t everything, but there’s no denying that it is important. If you don’t have any work experience, then simply skip this section and omit it from your school leaver CV entirely. Remember, though, that volunteer work and work experience programmes very much do count here.

 

The first decision you’d usually face when writing a CV would be choosing a CV format. Given that you’re writing a school leaver CV, though, there’s only one option here and the choice is made for you: stick with a chronological CV format, listing your experience from most recent to least.

 

A chronological CV format is what employers are most used to seeing and it’s also what most ATSs are set up to process most readily. Use the following school leaver CV template to create a subheading for each of your current and previous positions. Use it even if you have only one current or prior job.

 

[Job Title]

[Company Name, Location]

[Dates of Employment]

 

Add up to six bullet points under each subheading. Contrary to what you may have heard, these should not be descriptions of duties and responsibilities but rather your achievements. An achievement in this context is a description of actions you took at work and the benefits your employer got as a result.

 

Your actions will generally have been in response to a problem or challenge and the benefits will be related to increasing profits (by increasing revenue, reducing costs, saving time, etc.), unless you worked for a non-profit organisation. Quantify (i.e. put numbers to) benefits first and foremost.

 

You can use something like the Problem-Action-Result formula to help structure your bullet points. Try to start each bullet point / achievement with a strong verb, like ‘created’, ‘reduced’, ‘negotiated’ and so on. If you can’t quantify a benefit, then quantify what you can, like the scale at which you acted.

 

School leaver CV example work experience section

 

Volunteer Sales Assistant

RSPCA Charity Shop, Brighton

July 2019—present

  • Took payments in the form of cash, credit, debit and gift cards and balanced a till of up to £600.
  • Helped as many as 20 customers make their purchases at each shift.
  • Assisted in the unloading, sorting and shelving of 15 major deliveries of donated stock.
  • Created an interconnected set of spreadsheets to track sales and improve stocking efficiency by over 20%.

 

3. Set your school leaver CV education section up for maximum impact

 

As a school leaver, education is the main ‘CV thing’ that’s been happening in your life until now. This is going to be true if you left school after finishing your GCSEs, if you’re still finishing your A-levels, or if you’ve finished with high school altogether, whatever your next step in life has been.

 

The tendency, as a result, is to want to inflate your school-leaver CV education section as much as possible. The trick is to do the exact opposite: keep it brief and on-point, bloat- and padding-free. Don’t list your grades and don’t list your subjects if you’ve started university. Do follow the following guidelines.

 

Stick with a reverse-chronological order for your education section. If you’ve started a university degree, NVQ award or over tertiary course, then use the following school leaver CV template to write it up:

 

[Degree Type] [Degree Name](Degree Class), [Years Attended]

[Institution Name], [Institution Location]

 

Include an expected graduation date as well as the year you started.

 

Use the following CV templates for school leavers to write up your high school education (n is the number of GCSEs you completed) and include an expected graduation date if you’re still studying:

 

A-levels: [Subject Name 1], [Subject Name 2], [Subject Name 3]

[School Name], [School Location], [Years Attended]

 

[n] GCSEs (including Mathematics and English)

[School Name], [School Location], [Years Attended]

 

It’s good idea to explicitly mention Mathematics and English when stating how many GCSEs you’ve completed. Employers often need to see that you have passes in Maths and English as a bare minimum. There’s no need to list any other GCSEs by name. Do list all your A-levels, though.

 

One more thing, if you have very little work experience, you might want to move your education section above the work history section to give it more prominence.

 

16-year-old school leaver CV example education section

 

A-levels: English, Geography, Mathematics, September 2019–June 2021 (expected graduation date)

Derby High School, Brighton

 

8 GCSEs (including Mathematics and English), September 2017–June 2019

Derby High School, Brighton

 

You don’t have to be a CV writing expert. In the LiveCareer CV builder you’ll find ready-made content for every industry and position, which you can then add with a single click.

 

Create your CV nowcv builder

 

4. Use your school leaver CV to showcase your skills

 

You could say that what skills you have is the single most important thing determining how well you’ll be able to do a given job. You should be able to prepare a list of skills for your school leaver CV that covers everything mentioned in the job advert and then some. Just a simple list won’t do, though.

 

Unless you’re unusually lucky, you’ll be sending out many applications before you start getting invited to interviews. This is just how job hunting goes. So to save yourself some time in the long run, it’s a good idea to prepare a master list of skills now and then just copy and paste into future CVs.

 

Open a new document and list as many of your skills as you can. It’ll help to think in terms of soft skills and hard skills. Given your lack of experience, soft skill will predominate on your CV— this is as expected and you’ll pick up more hard and technical skills on the job, when you start working.

 

Once you have about as many skills as you can think of typed out, go back through the list and add a sentence to each skill in which you describe how you’ve demonstrated the given skill. Ideally this would mean at work, but it could also be at school or as part of your extracurricular activities or hobbies.

 

Delete any skills to which you can’t add a description like this. Save the file. You’ll be able to add to it over time and copy from it into future CVs as needed. Like now, for instance. Copy 5–10 skills from your master list into your school-leaver CV. Be sure to at least cover what’s mentioned in the advert (don’t lie, though).

 

School leaver CV skills

 

  • Ability to work unsupervised: frequently staffed the till without any supervision.
  • Punctuality: maintained a 100% on-time record.
  • Time management: found time to complete tasks such as stock-taking and tidying up in spite of a constant stream of shoppers.
  • Customer service: answered customers’ questions and handled returns in a friendly and professional manner.
  • Sales-related IT solutions: used a till and card terminal as well as basic account-keeping and invoicing packages.

 

5. Add extra sections to your school-leaver CV

 

You don’t have much experience and your education thus far can only say so much about you as an employee. Your school leaver CV is bound to end up being pretty similar to other good school leaver CVs out there. That’s understandable, but it’s not very helpful when it comes to standing out from the crowd.

 

Luckily, there’s something you can do to really flesh out your school leaver CV: add extra sections beyond just work history and education. Awards you’ve won, extra-urricular activities you’re involved in, languages you speak, even your hobbies and interests are all fair game, with one big caveat.

 

The caveat here is that whatever you choose to add has to be relevant to the job for which you’re applying. Foreign languages are really almost always relevant, given their associated benefits. When it comes to activities and interests, look for skills that translate well into the workplace.

 

In the example below, for instance, taking part in a Japanese poetry recital mightn’t seem relevant to working in a call centre, but look at it from a recruiter’s perspective: it shows that the candidate is comfortable with public speaking and able to control his voice for effect—great call centre or customer service skills.

 

School leaver CV example additional sections

 

Languages

 

  • Japanese: Intermediate

 

Awards

 

  • Runner-up, Nihongo / Japanese Poetry Recital Contest, London, 2019

 

6. Include a cover letter with your school leaver CV

 

Unless you’ve been explicitly asked not to. Otherwise, your job application is always going to be made up of two main parts: your school leaver CV and a cover letter that you wrote especially for the given application. You’re already halfway there once you’ve prepared your school leaver CV.

 

A good school leaver cover letter will be between half an A4 page and one A4 page long, about 250–400 words in total. Its overall structure will be set by the standard UK business letter format. All such letters have a certain kind of header, salutation and sign-off. These will bookend the body of your cover letter.

 

The body paragraphs are where the science of writing a cover letter blends into an art. It’s here that you’ll start making a case for why you should get the job in your opening paragraph. It’s also where, in your main body paragraph(s), you’ll show recruiters what you have to offer the company.

 

All that’s left to do then is wrap up any loose ends, thank the recruiter for taking the time to give your application the attention you believe it deserves, and end with a confident (but not over-confident) call to action. A call to action (or CTA) is when you take the initiative and suggest a follow-up conversation.

 

Keep these formatting tips in mind

 

When preparing for job interviews, you’re expected to look neat and well-groomed even when applying for jobs in which the public won’t see you. That’s because it’s not so much a matter of your appearance but what your appearance says about your professionalism and attention to detail. It’s the same with your CV.

 

Basic formatting and layout

 

Use the fact that your CV is on the shorter side to nicely space things out in clearly defined subsections. Make your name stand out by, for example, making it bold and a little larger than the rest of your text. Leave your contact details at the top of your CV, where they’ll be easy to find.

 

Choose a suitable CV font like Noto or Arial or just leave it at the default Liberation or Calibri. Keep font size at 11 or 12 points. Always save or export your work in PDF, unless you’ve been asked to use something else. Don’t go over a single A4 page and make sure you use the whole of the page.

 

Spelling and grammar

 

Even if the job to which you’re applying doesn’t require anything beyond basic literacy, don’t get complacent when it comes to checking for spelling and grammar mistakes. Check and double check your work. Use whatever software to which you have access. Get someone to check over and proofread your work.

 

And something for after clicking on ‘send’

 

So you’ve sent off your application, it’s been a week or more and you haven’t heard back. First of all, follow up. Send a brief, courteous email or make a quick phone call. It can give your chances a huge boost, it costs you virtually nothing and if nothing else it might leave you with an update. 

 

Secondly, don’t be discouraged by a lack of response or even being knocked back—it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be invited to an interview the first time you send out a CV or that you’ll get the job after attending your first interview. This is just the nature of job hunting, so cast a wide net and keep trying.

 

A cover letter alone simply won’t be enough—you need an impactful CV, too. Create your CV in minutes. Just follow our wizard and fill in every CV section with ready-made content. Get started by choosing a professional CV template.

 

cv builder

 

The LiveCareer online CV maker lets you build a professional CV fast and download it as a PDF or DOC.

 

Create your CV now

 

So you see writing a winning 16 year old school leaver CV template might not be nothing, but it’s certainly doable, experience or no! Is there anything here that you’d like me to go through in greater detail? Please let me know in the comments section below.

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LiveCareer Editorial Team
LiveCareer Editorial Team

About the author

Since 2005, the LiveCareer Team has been helping job seekers advance their careers. In our in-depth guides, we share insider tips and the most effective CV and cover letter writing techniques so that you can beat recruiters in the hiring game and land your next job fast. Also, make sure to check out our state-of-the-art CV and cover letter builder—professional, intuitive, and fully in line with modern HR standards. Trusted by 10 million users worldwide.

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