How To Write An Exceptional Student CV

Posted 13 Nov 2020

Whether you are looking for part-time work to make some extra cash alongside your studying, or you are coming to the end of your degree and are taking the first step in your career, it all begins with writing a student CV.

Creating a brilliant CV is harder than it seems, especially for students who might not have much work experience to boast about.

That’s why we have created this epic guide, along with some awesome student cv templates you can steal to create your own unmissable CV that is sure to catch the attention of employers.

Although creating your student CV seems daunting, take a second to sit back, relax, pop the kettle on and prepare to create your ultimate CV using our top tips and templates. Then all you need to do is brush up on your interview skills, as the invitations will soon be flooding in.

How different is a student CV from other CVs? 

In theory, a student CV does not differ much from that of a professional, but the big difference is the lack of experience that a recent graduate or current student will have compared to someone that has been in work for years.

Not having much experience is often a big drawback on a CV, but employers are very understanding that students are not going to have all of the skills they desire. So, your student CV needs to make a big positive impression about your personality to make you sound like a desirable candidate, along with shouting about any work experience you may have.

It can be difficult to find things to write about on your CV when you are a student, which is fine. Nearly every employer will actually prefer a shorter, more condensed CV over pages and pages of waffle. 

Remember that for the job you are applying for, it is most likely that hundreds of other student CVs are piling in. Ensuring that you stand out from the crowd, whilst showing the employer exactly what they want to see, will mean you strike the perfect balance. The best way to achieve this is a brilliant, clear format (check out our amazing template at the bottom of the guide!) perfect copywriting and a CV tailored towards the role you are applying for.

How to write a good student CV

Good preparation will make creating your student CV far easier. By jotting down your past jobs, experiences and achievements in a list, it will help you identify the things that are important and worth mentioning on your CV.

Your student CV should not be longer than 2 pages, so make sure you have prioritised your notes to include the best things about you that employers would be looking for. Think, 6 months of seasonal retail work is better than your Duke Of Edinburgh award. Following this, structure your notes to separate things that can be categorised, concise anything that’s too long and make sure everything on that list will grab employers’ attention.

Using your notes, expand on your past experiences and education. To write with perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation, use Grammarly - it’s amazing! Make sure you are writing in full sentences and use bullet points here and there if applicable, for example, to list your exam results.

What should you put in your CV?

Even though your student CV may look a bit sparse, there is still plenty of useful information you should include. The trick is to sell yourself, but without being too pushy, a good CV is all about the balance so making sure you include the right things is essential.

In the heading of your CV include the following personal information:

  • Full name
  • Area of residence
  • E-mail address
  • Phone number
  • Your LinkedIn profile, if you have one

Do not include the following personal information on your CV:

  • A photo of yourself
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Marital status

The personal information that is expected on your CV can differ depending on the country in which you are applying. In the UK we do not include the above items, but make sure you double-check if applying abroad.

Now you have all your contact details and necessary personal information, you can crack on populating the rest of your CV with everything you noted down earlier and some extra bits;

  • Personal profile/introduction. Check out our template below to get a better idea of how you should format this, but include all the above-listed contact details along with a short and snappy introduction of who you are.
  • Work experience. Although you might not have much experience, be sure to mention any part-time or seasonal jobs you may have had and make sure you shout about it. For example, “this Christmas retail role allowed me to develop my money-handling and customer service skills”.
  • Education and qualifications. This one explains itself really. Include all of your education from Degree down to GCSE, include your grades and do not lie about them! If you are a creative, make sure you pop in a link to your portfolio if applicable.

What is the best CV format for students?

The most popular CV format for people with lots of experience is a reverse chronological order. This is where at the start of your CV is the most recent experience, down to the oldest at the end. You should format your student CV by clearly stating the business name, job title and time frame between each work experience or part-time work you may have.

Another popular student CV format is a skill-based CV, this is perfect for those without much experience and allows you to talk more about your personal skills and how they are transferable to the job you are applying for.

No matter which format you choose, make sure it fits onto two A4 sheets, as any longer is a big CV no-no.

Skills-based CV

A skill-based CV is an ideal choice for you if you are without much work experience, but have a tonne of amazing skills to shout about.

  • First, emphasise your personal skills and strengths.
  • Then choose your top 5 skills best suited to the job, and a couple of examples of how you developed these skills.
  • Finally, a list of your experience, qualifications, education and any work experience you may have.

Want to create the ultimate skills-based student CV? Use our template below - but make sure you make it your own and stand out from the crowd!

Download our skill-based CV template


Reverse chronological CV

This is the most common type of CV. A reverse chronological order is the best choice if you have lots of experience to boast about!

  • Starting with the most recent at the top, list all your previous work experience, education and qualifications.
  • Explain what you learned and how you developed yourself in these roles.

A reverse chronological CV is easy to put together using the below template, but it can look a little generic so ensure you put your mark on it and make it unique!

Download our reverse chronological CV template

5 quick tips to make your student CV stand out

  1. Keep your CV format consistent and easy to read, avoiding any bold colours or funky fonts.
  2. Always, always, always 100% proofread and spell check your student CV. If you can, get a friend or parent to read through it and make sure you take on any comments they have.
  3. Don’t make your CV any longer than two pages of A4.
  4. There is no ‘required’ format, so do not stress if your CV looks completely different to others you have seen. If anything, it will make you more unique and likely to catch the eye of the employer.
  5. Keep your CV’s sentences and paragraphs short and snappy, getting to the point without being brash or overly vague.

How to apply for jobs

Now you have a smashing CV, it's time to get your CV in front of prospective employers, so find the jobs you want to apply for, make sure your CV is tailored to fit, and start applying! 

  • The best place to start is Indeed. This is one of the UK's leading resources for finding jobs to apply for.
  • Try searching Google for ‘X jobs near me”. Google now has a list of jobs that are pulled from a range of sites, making it easy to find the roles you are looking for.
  • Be speculative, find a selection of targeted companies you'd like to work for and ping them a friendly email with your CV. Even if they don't have any jobs available right now, it is great to have your CV on their desk.

So, good luck writing your student CV and following job hunt, don't forget to use our amazing CV templates! 

Posted 13 Nov 2020