An internship could be your first step into a dream career. Unfortunately, however, places are often limited to school leavers and graduates all vying for the same positions.
To secure an interview you will need to outdo the competition with a really strong CV. Let’s take a look at some top CV writing tips to help you get that internship.
Before you start
Before you rush off and start writing your CV, you need to do some research. Check the internship’s job description to find out everything you can about the role you are applying for.
You should check:
- Which keywords have been used?
- Which skills are needed?
- What experience do they want?
You will also need to know more about the company and industry in general.
Now you know what the employer is looking for, you should aim to demonstrate why you are the perfect fit by including it in your CV.
Writing your CV
When it comes to writing your CV, keep the recruiter in mind at all times. Thanks to your research, you know exactly what they are looking for — so tell them what they want to hear! Of course, you could always hire a professional CV writing service to do this for you.
Divide your CV into these five sections:
1. Contact details
Contact details are an absolute must on your CV. Include your name, address, telephone number and email so the recruiters can get back to you if (and when) you are successful.
2. Personal statement
Add a personal statement to your CV to briefly tell the employer why you will be perfect for the internship position. Don’t go over the top — a short paragraph detailing who you are, what you can offer and your career aims is enough.
3. Employment history
As someone taking their first steps into the industry, you may not have an extensive and relevant employment history — don’t worry, we’ll discuss that later.
But if you do have the industry-relevant experience, make sure to include it. Add your role, the name of the company, its location, website and the dates you were employed.
Next, detail your responsibilities and successes for each role — again, make sure to highlight any achievements that suit the role you are applying for.
4. Education and qualifications
Add your education plus any academic or professional qualifications you might have. Include the name of the institution, qualification and dates you attended.
If your recent school or university education is relevant to the internship you are applying to you can give your education more prominence, particularly if you are lacking relevant work experience.
5. Other skills
Finally, an ‘other skills’ section is a great place to include extra-curricular activities that are relevant to the internship. If you have done any volunteering that your potential employer will find attractive, then make sure to add it, highlighting the internship-relevant parts.
Overall, you should keep your CV to a maximum of two A4 pages in length.
What to do if you lack experience
The reason you are applying for an internship is probably that you want to gain more industry-relevant work experience. So what should you do to make sure your CV shines if you haven’t already worked in that industry?
- Highlight relevant strengths. Just because you may not have had a job in the industry, that doesn’t mean you have no experience at all. Work experience, volunteering, community and academic projects all count. Remember to highlight skills that you know the company is looking for.
- Push your best skills. If you are going to include more general skills, make sure you back them up with relevant examples. For example, if a company is looking for someone who is a “team player”, then you might want to highlight a time you worked successfully in a group. Wherever possible, include tangible results such as a percentage increase in sales.
- Utilise the layout. You don’t have to stick to the traditional method of laying out a CV in chronological order. Instead, put your most relevant experience at the top to highlight your most applicable skills to the role.
- Include a cover letter. Cover letters are a great way to highlight your most relevant skills and how they will benefit the company you want an internship with. Include a cover letter and let the recruiter know why you are the person they are looking for.
Conclusion: CV Writing Tips for Landing Your Dream Internship
Writing a CV for an internship and writing a CV for a job are very similar skills.
You always want to know what the employer is looking for and then demonstrate, with tangible results, why you have those skills.
Similarly, there are things in both you definitely don’t want to include. Typos are a big no-no, as are jargon, buzzwords and lies.
The main difference between the two CVs is that when you apply for an internship you may not yet have the relevant work experience. Instead, highlight other areas of your life that demonstrate why you are going to be an asset to the company during your time there.
Author: Andrew Arkley
Andrew is the founder of PurpleCV, one of the UK’s leading CV writing providers. He has personally written over 3,000 CVs, has over 15 years’ experience in recruitment at a senior level and has conducted thousands of interviews, so he knows precisely what it takes to land a job!