Struggling to write your first CV?

As a specialist recruiter, I’ve written lots of articles about writing CV’s, but these are usually to help experienced professionals fine-tune their CV’s.

What I’ve experienced recently is a series of conversations with first-time job seekers, some of whom have never written a CV.

Some of these are graduates and some who are college leavers. Who for some reason or another, appear to have no real idea on how to write a CV.

Some of their first attempts have astounded me!

On recent CV writer went so far as to only list the work experience and GCSE achievements which the job advert requested. What I didn’t discover until speaking with him was that in addition to those 5 GCSE’s he had a BTEC, AS levels and further A-C grade GCSE’s which he hadn’t put onto the CV as the advert hadn’t specifically asked for them!

It also astounded me that as well as the 6 months office work experience (which was the only work experience listed on the CV) he had been working weekends since he was 15, as well as through all school holidays from pot wash, to warehouse stack, to being a local shop assistant.

He was a grafter but had thought that, as he was applying for office work, the other work experience he had behind him wasn’t applicable so he left it off!

Needless to say, after getting in touch with us, his original and final CV were like chalk and cheese.

We’ve found, no matter what age, level of experience or ambitions you bring with you, there is a simple recipe for writing a good CV.

So for all of you out there attempting to write your first CV to get yourself a digital marketing job, here are some simple steps to take:

Our ultimate CV Recipe:

Personal profile

2 paragraphs describing who you are. This how your best friend would describe you to someone, then think about how your teacher would describe you and then think how you parents and/or siblings might describe you or even your last boss – if you’ve already had a job.

It is probably the blend of all of these which will make a good read. What are you best at? What can you bring with you in terms of experience and skills? What are you passionate about? What education, experience & strengths do you have?

Skills & tools

These are bullet-pointed. This section is about what have you already been taught to do and what tools you already use. If you’ve worked in retail or hospitality, it might be:

  • Cashing up
  • Speaking with customers

If you’ve worked in a call centre, it might be:

  • Strong telephone manner with good patience with customers

OR it may be particular tools you’ve used for the job, like:

  • Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint
  • Online reservation system for bookings / CRM – data entry

Whether office based, hospitality, airline crew, retail or anything and everything in between, you will have applicable skills! If you get the opportunity to read a job description, see what skills it is asking for and whether you have got any of those skills and make sure they are on your CV.

Professional experience

This is where you get to tell an employer everything about the work you have done. No matter how brief the employment was, it is good to include it to show you have given it a go.

For instance, the young man I mentioned earlier hadn’t included the 3 months he worked night shifts at a warehouse. His reasoning, he thought it was too brief and not worth mentioning. Given he was just starting out in his career, I felt it valid to write into the CV and mentioned it was 12-hour night shifts, 6 days per week.

By giving the full picture, I actually commend him for sticking it out that long! Rather than judge him on the brevity of that employment!

The idea is to give the employer a full and best insight into who you are. Tell them at 15 you were working weekends at the local B&B. Tell them that you went from being a Kitchen Porter to Sous Chef at the local pub.

It might not seem relevant to you but to a prospective employer, it shows you are hardworking, ambitious and proved yourself worthy to a previous employer.


List your education (Format: qualification, institute and date) with any accreditation’s you have, certification, training or courses you’ve been on.

Only when you have a number of years of work experience behind you will your education become less important and eventually left off your CV.

Interests & hobbies

We thoroughly believe it is the person that an employer is hiring, not just getting a “bum” on a seat. It is nice to be able to tell an employer a bit about you, going back to the example of the young man I spoke with.

He had been a batter for 15 years at the local cricket club, which shows loyalty, commitment, team spirit and so much more. He also writes his own music, to the extent he’s even recording an album later this year. Again this demonstrates his creativity, perseverance and personal interest.

Finishing touches

Make sure you put your name, address and contact details on your CV (I cannot tell you how many we see without a phone number!).

Please don’t title it “CV” – We know it’s your CV, you don’t need to tell us!

We also don’t believe you need to put “references upon request” – virtually every job offer is subject to satisfactory references when the time comes to provide those reference details. However, you don’t need to write it at the bottom of your CV.

Finally, your CV should be no more than 2 pages in length. When you put all of this together, the result is a wonderful read.

It goes to show with the right recipe, showcasing all your ingredients, you can have a pretty fine dish which a lot of people want!

In our recruitment world, this would turn into a lot of interview requests. We are looking forward to hearing how this young man takes his recipe and good looking dish out to the big wide world and gets himself lots of orders!

Looking for more CV and career advice? See our other blogs: 

If you would like assistance in job seeking or writing a great digital marketing CV, you can send us an email on or call 0203 751 4108.