How to write a placement CV

When you send off a placement CV, it’s almost like meeting your fave celebrity… It’s nerve-quaking, thrilling - all the emotions. But ultimately you want to make a good impression - quickly.

To help you craft the ultimate CV and astound recruiters for placements, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide. Plus, there’s a free downloadable CV template to get you started.

Placement year CVs

You can use this guide to write a CV for any placement you might be applying for.

Our guide and template can also be used for all student roles, whether it’s a placement, internship or insight scheme.

Simply follow each step, taking care to tailor your placement CV to the role, industry and company you are applying to.

Before you begin, we’re made a CV template for you to get you on your way. It’s in PDF format, so you can easily copy and paste into your favourite word processor.

Keep reading for some stellar tid-bits on how to write your CV for a placement. 

How to write a CV for a placement

Here are seven things to always include in a CV, whether you’re applying for a placement, a graduate role or the top dog position...

#1 Contact details

Do not start your placement CV by writing CURRICULUM VITAE at the top. Employers know what they’re looking at, plus you’ll be taking up valuable space.

Instead, start with your name. Then provide contact details: your phone number, email and home address. If you don’t want to provide your full address, use your general area. For example; Slough, United Kingdom or Bethnal Green, London.

A placement year CV doesn’t 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 2019 are probably not appropriate. Instead, use a passport photo or a headshot.

If you’re looking for a little placement CV inspiration, we’ve put together an example…Remember your CV should be 100% your words.

#2 Personal profile

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

This section of a CV seems to terrify people, but there are ways to make writing a profile feel less like jumping into a lion’s den.

If you follow these few simple steps, your profile should feel a lot easier to write…

  • 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 CV skills, zip over to How to write a student CV.

#3 Key skills

Recruiters can be inundated with CVs when hiring for a role. 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 and put it in bullet point form making it easy to digest. 

Focus on the employability skills that employers crave, making sure to include soft and technical skills…

  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving
  • Intermediate in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator
  • Advanced qualification in Microsoft Excel

#4 Education

Students applying for a placement 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, Writing A 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 leave out. Do they want to hear about your part-time job stacking shelves at Tesco? Or the three-day 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.

What do you do with your time when you’re not on the clock? 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?

Again, try and tailor your interests towards the placement. 

For example, if you’re applying for a language placement, and you show no evidence of extra-curricular interest in languages, the recruiter will wonder if you really have an interest in the role.

#7 References

You don’t need to give your references’ contact details at the end of your placement CV. Rather, ‘references available upon request’ will be fine for now.

An employer would normally contact your references once you’ve been given a job offer.

Ask your references first if they’re happy to be contacted and what their preferred mode of contact is… it’ll make it 5000 times easier.

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 just rely on spellcheck. 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.

If you think you’re ready to jump aboard to career train, get yourself over to our jobs board pronto.

There you’ll find hundreds of roles with some of the BEST student employers in the land…