Even with little to no work experience, you can impress a hiring manager

If you're 16 years old and looking for a job, your CV is your secret weapon. Whether you want to land a Saturday job or an exciting apprenticeship, writing a stellar application will help you open doors and land that all-important role. But where do you start when you're new to CV writing? In this guide, we take a look at how to write the perfect 16-year-old CV, plus some adaptable examples. 

Does a 16-year-old even need a CV?

If you want to land a job, the short answer is yes. Gaining experience at this stage of your life is a quick way to set yourself up for success. A bonus? You get to keep some extra pocket money, too.

Legally speaking, you can work part-time from the age of 13 in the United Kingdom. Some exceptions apply, however, if you're acting, modelling, or working in television. If you live in England, the law states that you remain in education or training until the age of 18. In Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, you can enter the workforce and leave school at 16, depending on when your birthday falls.

Long story short, when you're 16 years old, plenty of work opportunities are already available to you, and securing one will likely require a CV. But before you start looking for roles, do your homework first. There are rules in place to protect working young people, so make sure that you understand your rights, including the hours that you can work legally, before deciding on taking a part-time or full-time job. 

7 tips for writing a 16-year-old's CV

Whether you're attempting to write your own CV at 16 years old or are about to write a CV for someone with no experience, you'll need to catch the hiring manager's attention quickly and effectively.

As a general rule, your CV length should be between one and two pages. If this is your first time applying for a job, yours will likely be only one page long. So how can you pack that page full of good stuff? Here's how:

1. Write a captivating personal statement 

Writing any standout CV when you're a 16-year-old entails convincing the recruiter or hiring manager that you have what it takes to succeed. You might be new to the world of work, but you have specific skills and qualifications just like anyone else – make sure to send this message right off the bat by crafting a winning personal statement.

The personal statement is a short paragraph that sits at the top of your CV. It's also your chance to speak directly to the hiring manager about why you want this specific job. While you don't have much space to play with here, try to include the following in your personal statement: 

  • Your value. What value will you bring to the job? What skills or talents do you have? You can use a selection of action verbs to help you stand out from the crowd here.
  • Industry knowledge. Do you want any job or do you want this job? Let the hiring manager know that it's the latter by highlighting any knowledge that you possess about their field. 
  • Career goals. Yes, your career's just getting started, but where do you see it going? What plans do you have for the future? How does this job align with those long-term goals?
  • Track record. How can you prove your worth to the employer? Highlight any impressive track record at school or any previous professional or volunteering work as part of your personal statement. Be sure to quantify this with statistics or numbers, wherever possible. 
  • Availability. While this is the least exciting of the things that you may include here, it's especially important if you're applying for shift work. 

Remember to keep your personal statement short and punchy. The hiring manager doesn't have a wealth of time to read every CV that comes their way, so get straight to the point – you want to have them reading your CV from start to finish! 

2. Add your work experience (if you have any) 

Next up, detail your work experience. If you have none to speak of, don't panic. As with any young applicant, the hiring manager won't expect you to have loads of professional experience. 

When you simply lack the experience to fill your CV, consider using the functional CV format. This CV layout moves the “Work Experience” section down the document to front-load your relevant skills (including your more recent educational achievements) instead.  

If you do have some work experience, now's the time to shout about them. Use a reverse-chronological CV format, starting with your most recent work experience and working your way back. In a 16-year-old's CV, the work experience section generally covers the same typical elements:

  • Company name. What was the business you worked for? The first thing that you need to list is its name. For example, you might simply put “Starbucks” here. 
  • Location. Where was the company based? Don't expect the reader to know this just by looking at the name. Include either the town or city here. 
  • Job title. What was your job title while there? For instance, you may have been a “Barista” or “Waiter.” Include that detail here. 
  • Employment dates. How long were you with the company? You can include your dates of employment as follows: “Mmm Year,” such as “Oct 2020 - Jan 2022.”
  • Your achievements. What did you do in the role, and what results did you get? Quantify your achievements here. For example, “Served 30+ satisfied customers per shift.”

One of the biggest mistakes that applicants commit when writing this section is being vague. A good CV should tell the reader exactly what experience you have and why it matters. Take the time to align your achievements with the demands of the job you're applying for. 

3. Detail your education and training

Whether you're still studying or have recently left school, you must include an "Education" section on your 16-year-old CV. Here's what to include: 

  • Institution name. Indicate the name of your school or college. You might also want to put its location, although that's not always necessary. 
  • Qualifications and grades. Specify your area of study as well as any acquired qualifications. You can also add your projected results here. 
  • Dates of attendance. When did you attend this school or college? If you're still a student there, you should put “Month Year - Present” in this part of your CV, where “Month Year” is the time you began attending the school or college. 

If you've had any specific training that's relevant to the role you're applying for, go ahead and list them down in this section too. That day-course barista training while working at a café may just help highlight the technical skills needed for the job, not to mention showcase your commitment to continuous learning.

4. Focus on any transferable skills you have

When you're 16 and lack work experience, it's normal to worry about how you can convince the recruiter or hiring manager that you're right for the job. 

Showcasing the transferable skills you have on your CV can keep these worries at bay. Also called soft skills, these are non-job-specific skills that you may have picked up elsewhere – in previous roles or in school – which can almost always be applied to any industry.

Here are some examples of common, in-demand transferable skills that you can put into context on your 16-year-old CV:

  • Communication. This is a highly valuable skill if you're applying for a customer-facing role. Consider a time when you've used your communication skills to address or solve a problem.

  • Organisation. Are you an organised person? How do you stay on top of your schedule? What methods do you use? Briefly detailing this sought-after skill on a CV can help  even a 16-year-old shine.
  • Time management. Hiring managers want employees who are on time. If you have this skill under your belt, don't forget to add it to your CV. 
  • Teamwork. In most jobs, it will be important to work as part of a team. Share how you've demonstrated this skill in a past role or project.

You don't simply want to cram these skills into your CV. See our guide on weaving soft skills into your application to instantly elevate your CV. 

5. Use additional CV sections 

If you have no work experience, there are other CV sections that you can include to further strengthen your application as a 16-year-old: 

  • Voluntary experience. Have any unpaid experiences worth sharing? Sometimes, adding a section on your voluntary experience, as it helps highlight your initiative and skills, can do wonders for your application. You should lay this out the same way you would your “Work Experience” section.  

  • Hobbies and interests. There will be times when it makes sense to add a"Hobbies and Interests" section to your CV. Should you decide to include this, make sure to specify only those hobbies that are relevant to your target role.
  • Clubs and organisations. Are you a member of a club or organisation? If you are, you may want to add these experiences to your CV. Being part of a club shows that you are no stranger to teamwork and that you have a good work ethic. 

Don't simply add sections for the sake of it. Always consider what the added section will tell the hiring manager about you and your application.   

6. Tailor your CV (and cover letter) to the job at hand 

So you've written a good CV, one that's tailored to every role you're going for. How else can you set yourself apart from other 16-year-old applicants? 

Writing an impactful cover letter may seem like additional work, but it can provide you with the extra leverage you need to get noticed. Review the job advert and see what the hiring manager has written there. Research about the business and make sure that your CV and cover letter clearly reflect your suitability for the role.

A simple trick that also goes a long way is including a selection of keywords, mentioned in the job advert, in your application documents. This can help increase your chances of getting your application past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). But remember to be honest – use only those keywords, including required and desired qualifications, that apply to you.

7. Proofread your application documents

Once you've done all of the above, the final stage of the process is proofreading your CV and cover letter. Spelling mistakes or simple typos can easily get your application dismissed, so read… and then re-read your application before you send it. 

You can also ask someone you trust to read it for you, as having an extra pair of eyes can help you spot errors that might have slipped through the net. Additionally, you can use a spell-checker or a proofreading software to do this for you. 

CV examples for 16-year-olds

Looking for some inspiration? Take a look at these four 16-year-old's CV examples:

Teenager CV example 1 from TopCVTeenager CV example 2 from TopCVTeenager CV example 3 from TopCVTeenager CV example 4 from TopCV

Apply with confidence

Writing a CV for a 16-year-old can be a challenge. However, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your application does its job. Follow our CV-writing tips, and you'll be off to a great start! 

Want to make sure that you've applied our tips correctly? Get a free CV review now and let TopCV's experts help you polish your application. 

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