Student Advice

How to Write an Impressive Student CV: A Guide to Standing Out

Ben Maples  · Dec 5th 2023  · 8 min

Your CV is a necessity for any job. A CV is a way for employers to see all the things about you that make you unique and what actually sets you apart from the competition.


As a student, one of the most essential tools you'll need to embark on your professional journey is a well-written CV. A student CV provides a window into your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and skills, allowing potential employers or educational institutions to glimpse your capabilities and potential.

Your student CV is the document that holds all the key information about you. Whether you're applying for a student internship, a part-time job, or considering further education, investing time and effort into creating a well-structured and tailored CV is crucial.

Good examples of CV

What is a CV?

A CV is a document detailing your information, previous work experience and academic achievements up to that point. CVs usually include a small section detailing your personality, hobbies and interests. This can be a love of film and TV, what books you enjoy, or how you enjoy spending your time aside from work. CV stands for “curriculum vitae”.

A student CV is often a little different from a general CV. The reason for this is that students seldom have enough experience to be able to fill the CV out, so students will often have to talk about their studies in greater depth.

How long should a CV be?

This will depend on you and how much experience you have. Traditionally, recruiters prefer to read a CV that is one page at maximum. Of course, some CVs need to stretch onto two pages, but typically, you don’t want to go further.

Make sure everything you include is relevant. For example, detailing what infant school you attended or what nursery you were a part of isn’t needed, as it will make the CV too long.

What to include in a student CV?

You will want to include everything relevant to you and where you are now. You should make the CV as concise as possible so that the person reading it can glean as much as possible from the document.

Typically, you will want to include the following:

  • Contact details.
  • Personal profile.
  • Key skills.
  • Employment history.
  • Education.
  • Achievements.
  • Hobbies.
  • References.

Some may ask for additional sections, but this is rare. Keeping things in this order makes it easier for everyone reading to learn more about you and to have the critical elements distilled into easy-to-digest pieces.

You would be surprised how often people forget to proofread their CVs. Proof-reading means could be a lifesaver.

Contact details

Contact details are probably the most important thing to include on your CV. Ensure you include your current address, phone number and the best email to contact you. This information will also be important because if you are applying through a client/applicant portal, most software may read the CV for you and auto-populate any contact details you need to fill out as part of the online form.

Personal profile

Though the section is called “personal profile”, limit the content to your work life and skills. You don’t need to go into too much detail; you will cover this later in the CV. However, having most of the information available and ready to read will make things much easier.

This is also an excellent place to include keywords. These keywords should be related to the job you are applying for and touch on some of the desired skills the recruiter has asked for.

Key skills

These are the skills you have. Look at the skills required for the role and mention them. Do not lie. Recruiters do not like people who lie on their CVs.

A tip for mentioning key skills; mention how and when you have demonstrated them. Recruiters and employers love seeing when the skill has been used, and it also allows them to paint a picture in their mind’s eye of how you can use the skill in the workplace.

Employment history

This, again, does not need to be War and Peace. Make sure that you mention the following:

  • What the job was.
  • What position you held.
  • How long you were there.
  • A brief description of what the company does.
  • A short description of what you did at the company.

Another tip: don’t be negative. You don’t need to be positive, but never be negative on your CV. It can convey bitterness and will not be relevant. You don’t need to say why you left or thinking of leaving. Save that for your interview.

Example of a student resume


This section should be the shortest. You do not need to describe or discuss anything about the school. You need to provide how long you attended the school, your grades, and any academic or social achievements you received when attending.

You shouldn’t mention your junior or infant school unless you have a significant achievement from them. The best thing to do is mention your secondary school, college (if you attended) and university (again, if you attended).


Your achievements should be listed. Providing context can be important but is optional. A simple list of achievements can be helpful. If you have professional qualifications or achievements, list them.

A CV is a document detailing your information, previous work experience and academic achievements up to that point.


This, after contact details, is the most important part of the CV. You might think that’s strange, but this is part of the CV where the reader sees you for who you are and how you think.

They want to know more about you. Do you write short stories in your spare time? Mention it. Do you enjoy eating ice cream on the beach and attending conventions? Mention it.

You’d be surprised how many recruiters and employers change their minds about an applicant through this section. Mention what sports you play (if any), whether you do any volunteering, and what new skills you are trying to learn. It helps.


References are people who can testify to your character and work ethic. You don’t need to list the references on the CV if you don’t want to (most don’t).

It is easy to put “References available upon request ”. Not only does this have the benefit of keeping the CV shorter than anticipated, but it also gives the recruiter or employer an incentive to contact you to ask for them. After all, they wouldn’t ask for references if they weren't interested in you.

How to write a student CV with no work experience?

You might think that having no work experience is an issue on a student's CV. Of course, it is not as good as having the experience, but there’s not much you can do, especially if you're straight out of university.

You would be surprised at how important work experience at university is. If you have been on a work placement or have had a part-time job while at university, then mention them. The latter is beneficial as it shows you have good drive and reliability.

Example of student resume

Tailor your CV to the job description

You would be surprised how many recruiters or employers use Ctrl + F, or Command + F. Employers regularly look for the things they’ve mentioned in their job listing and see if you have them. If you do, you will probably have a good chance of progressing to the next stage.

Even aside from this, focus on what the employer is looking for. If they are looking for someone who is resourceful, then mention in your CV that you are resourceful and that you can work independently or as part of a team. These subtle mentions help you to stand out.

Also, make sure that you are referencing relevant things. If you worked on a project at university that somewhat mirrors the job you are applying for, then mention it. You never know what may come in handy.

Write a cover letter

Cover letters are not always needed, but they help you stand out. In all honesty, no one likes writing a cover letter since it can be so challenging to write, even if you're using a student CV template or a cover letter template from the internet.

Treat your cover letter like you would a personal statement. Make sure you mention why you would be suited for the role, which requirements the employer has laid out, how you meet them, and a short paragraph about yourself.

Also, as tempting as it may be, do not use AI. Many people have started using AI chatbots like ChatGPT to help them with difficult letters or essays, and people are very aware when you've used them. Students who use ChatGPT at university feel like they may have pulled a fast one on their lecturer, but the style of writing will be different to your CV or a portfolio (if you have one), and they will know that you haven’t written it.

This section should be the shortest. You do not need to describe or discuss anything about the school.

What key skills should I include in my student CV?

Your key skills will likely be the be-all and end-all of your CV. If a recruiter finds the key skills they want in your CV, they will be more likely to move you onto the next stage.

Look at the key skills needed for the role and then add them. Do not add any you don’t have, but make sure the ones you do have are in the same writing style as the job listing, as the employer or recruiter will most certainly just copy them into their find function to find them in your CV.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are another crucial part to add to your student CV. Soft skills are a mixture of people, social, and communication skills.

Your soft skills often make up for a lack of technical skills. Good communication is vital at any level of business or work, and employers and recruiters will always want effective communicators on their teams.

CV template Indeed

What soft skills should I put on my student CV?

This depends on what soft skills you have. As with everything else on your CV, do not lie about what you do not have. Ensure you only mention your skills and how they will benefit the company.

The best soft skills to include are:

  • Communication.
  • Flexibility.
  • Interpersonal.
  • Motivation.
  • Positive attitude.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Strong work ethic.
  • Teamwork.
  • Time management.

These skills are a real life-saver for a CV! Student CVs often lack technical skills or work experience, so having soft skills is an excellent way to make up for it.

You would be surprised how many recruiters or employers use Ctrl + F, or Command + F.

Make sure you proofread

You would be surprised how often people forget to proofread their CVs. Proof-reading means could be a lifesaver.

If you make a mistake in your CV, it is unlikely that an employer or recruiter will penalise you for it. However, if your CV is riddled with spelling errors or grammatical issues or is full of sentences or paragraphs that don’t make sense, then you will likely be ignored.

Read through your CV carefully. Sometimes, reading the CV aloud can be of tremendous help to you, as it allows you to hear it in your own voice, and allows you to make alterations.

Remember, your CV doesn’t need to be an epic novel. Try and summarise your accomplishments as much as possible and tailor your CV around the job you are applying for. Recruiters and employers always appreciate a personal touch.

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