Get your foot in the door

It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving Year 12 and hoping to get a job straight away or applying for summer jobs to earn a bit of cash – if you want to work (and trust me, you do) then you’re going to need a resume. Potential employers use your resume to decide if you’re worthy of an interview. Even if you have all the credentials required and would be perfect for the job, if your resume doesn’t ‘wow’ the person reading the applications, then you’ll be at the bottom of their pile (also known as ‘the bin’).

What exactly is a resume?

A resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a summary of YOU. Your education, qualifications, work experience, skills and achievements – all nicely laid out in an easy to read but professional format.

What should a school leavers resume include?

As a school leaver, no employer will expect you to have an enormous resume, so one page should be plenty to summarise all your achievements to date. Two pages max if you have lots of work experience or additional skills you’d like to showcase. Employers often have to sift through lots of job applications and they have neither the time nor inclination to read through lengthy essay style resumes. So don’t waste your time (or theirs) and focus instead on creating a resume that’s simple and effective. Your resume should include the following:
  • Your name, age and contact details (address, contact phone number and email)
  • Education – name of the school, subjects studied, include results here especially if they’re exceptionally good
  • Previous work experience (don’t forget to include any work experience or voluntary work)
  • A list of your skills
  • Awards and achievements
  • A few of your hobbies and interests
  • References – it’s a good idea to list one or two referees that you’re happy for potential employers to contact.
You can list former teachers, employers or mentors. You’ll need to check with them that you’re ok using them as a reference and provide their name, position, company and contact details. Otherwise, you can just write “References available on request” – but have some in mind and check they’re ok with you giving out their details. If you need inspiration about what skills to include, you can read our blog “The Top 10 Skills Employers look for”  & the subsequent blogs that discuss each skill in more depth.

Simplicity is the ticket

Content is the most important attribute for your CV.


  • Keep the format simple
  • Be brief
  • List only relevant information
  • Be honest
  • Use good vocabulary
  • Make it easy to read
  • Use a professional layout
  • Use the same font
  • Use bullet points and well defined headers


  • Use crazy designs or colours
  • Ramble
  • Exaggerate experience or outright lie
  • Use abbreviations or slang

Check it once, twice, three times

Resumes that are poorly written, full of typo’s, or contain spelling  and grammatical errors will not be well received. In fact, that’s another way they’ll be weeded out from the ‘potential’ pile to the NO pile, and you don’t want that. So before you send out your resume anywhere:
  1. Use your spell and grammar check.
  2. Save changes.
  3. Walk away & do something else for a few hours, come back and re-read your resume and edit any mistakes.
  4. Read it out loud slowly. It’s a really effective way of making sure it reads as it will to someone else and not just how you think it will read.
  5. Give it to parents, a teacher, friends to cast their eye over. They might have some valuable suggestions or spot any mistakes you’ve missed.

Need help creating a professional resume?

If you’re still not confident that you can create a professional looking resume, then there’s MHSCareers have already put together a Super Simple Resume Builder. Just answer the questions in the fields provided, and the Builder will email you an ultra-professional resume in PDF format, all you need to do is write a cover letter and send it off. Login with your school’s username and password to get started.
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