Placement & Work Experience CV

When you send off a placement CV, or a work experience CV, it’s like meeting the parents of your prom date. You have to make a good impression, and fast.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you impress your prom date’s parents, and astound recruiters for placements and work experience. There’s even a placement CV template! Oh the excitement!

Work experience CVs

You can use this guide to write a CV for any work experience you might be applying for - whether it’s a placement, internship or insight scheme.

Even our template is compatible for all student roles. (We have killed two cows with one stone.) Simply follow each step, taking care to tailor your work experience CV to the role, industry and company you are applying to.

If you haven’t got ANY work experience, get yourself over to our jobs board pronto. There you’ll find hundreds of roles with some of the finest employers in the land...

How to write a CV for work experience

Here are SEVEN things to include in a CV, whether you’re applying for work experience, a graduate role or the top dog position...

#1 Contact details

Do not start your placement CV by writing CURRICULUM VITAE at the top. That is what the CV-ripped-up-by-a-pack-of-starving-hounds-crew would do.

Start with your name. Beneath that, you want to provide contact details. Your phone number, email and home address should be enough.

A placement CV does not require you to send a photo - only attach one if the recruiter asks you to do so, and make it a sensible one! Shots from Magaluf 2018 are probably not appropriate. A passport photo should suffice.

For all the Blue Peter fans out there, here’s an example of a placement CV that we made earlier...

#2 Personal profile

Your profile is a short body of text that acts as an introduction to your work experience CV.

This section of a CV seems to terrify people. It’s like asking people to jump into a lion enclosure, dressed as a wildebeest.

If you follow a few simple steps, your profile should cause no trouble at all..

  • Tailor your profile to the placement you are applying for. 
  • Outline who you are, your career aspirations, and why you are interested in this specific role/company. 
  • Carefully avoid CV buzzwords, like 'motivated', 'driven' and 'passionate'. The overuse of these words bends the bones of employers
  • Keep it to less than 5 sentences.

For more tips on perfecting your work experience CV, zip over to How to write a student CV. (You’ll also find a great photo of an acrobatic fisherman.)

#3 Key skills

Recruiters can be inundated with CVs when hiring for a role. Work experience CVs pile so high they can’t find the door to get out of their office, and are marooned at their desks for weeks on end.

This is why it is crucial to make an immediate impression on the reader. After your profile, the key skills section is where you make an impact.

Draw up a list of your key skills and strengths. Put it in bullet point form, so it is as simple and readable as a Biff and Chip book.

Focus on the employability skills that employers crave…

  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving
  • ​...
  • ​...
  • (put some of your own skills in too)

Here’s a snazzy CV template we made to help you get started. 

Follow this template and recruiters will stage gladiator competitions to fight over your application. (And it’s FREE to download.)

#4 Education

Students applying for work experience during university can provide a predicted grade for their degree. Even if you haven’t finished university, employers want to know what you are working towards.

It is also important to remember to put your most recent qualifications first. Your university grades at the top, A-levels and then your GCSEs.

The education section is a good opportunity to tailor your placement CV to the job you are applying for. Draw attention to any modules or projects you have completed that are relevant to the role.

If you are applying for a placement year, you're going to need a placement cover letter. Check out our blog, Placement & Work Experience Cover Letter, for a splendid six-step guide to writing the best placement cover letter the British Isles have ever seen.

#5 Previous work experience

If an employer has been lured in by your profile and been seduced by your key skills, the next thing they will look for on your CV is work experience.

But it can be tough figuring out which jobs to include, and which to not. Do they want to hear about your part-time job stacking shelves at Tesco? Or the three-days work shadowing at a local paper?

The answer is YES - if you show how you contributed to the business and what you learnt from your time there. You can do this by listing your key responsibilities and achievements for each role.

If you worked on the cheese counter at Waitrose for a summer, focus on the responsibilities you were given. Were you involved in pricing, or trusted with cashing up at the end of a shift? Were you allowed to reorganise the cheese? Did you hit your sales target?

Of course, if you have any work experience that is directly related to the placement, you will be catnip to employers. 

VIDEO! Watch to find out how to write a CV (without work experience).

#6 Interests

The interests section of your placement CV is an opportunity to let the recruiter know a little more about you. They do not need to know EVERYTHING - it’s not Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.

What do you do with your time when you’re not on the cheese counter? Focus on pursuits that are active and team-based. Playing a sport is groovy enough, but do you captain the team or organise their social events? Were you Player of the Year last year? Did you cut the oranges at half-time?

Again, try and tailor your interests towards the placement. If you’re applying for a language placement, and you show no evidence of extra-curricular interest in languages, the recruiter will wonder, ‘who is this monolingual fruitcake?

#7 References

You don’t need to give your references’ contact details at the end of your placement CV. Once you have used this guide and template to write your placement CV, the employers will contact you about your references.

It will be like the scene from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, when the Dursley’s are hiding Harry’s letters from Hogwarts. There will be acceptance letters flying through the letterbox, letters bursting out of the fireplace, letters smashing windows, letters soaring through the air.

CV do's & don'ts

Here are a few expert tips to consider when writing your CV for placements and work experience…

  • CHECK YOUR SPELLING & GRAMMAR - Don't rely on spellcheck. Why not ask your friends, family or university careers service to have a look at your CV before you send it off? This will minimise the chances of your application going straight into the reject pile. Spell the company's name wrong, and your CV will be set upon by a pack of starving hounds.
  • GIVE LOTS OF EVIDENCE - If you’re struggling to think of different examples to demonstrate your skills, have a think about extra-curricular activities that might help illustrate them. For example, if you're in a sports team, even if it is Ultimate Frisbee, think about teamwork, leadership and organisational skills. Employers lose their minds for teamwork, leadership and organisation skills.
  • TAILOR YOUR CV TO THE PLACEMENT - ​Businesses look for students who have the same values and qualities as their brand. Research the values and vision of the company you are applying to first and then give examples of why you are a good match.