It's vital that we teach young people how to write a proper CV

Many employers have horror stories to tell


Alfred Ajani is an enterprising 22-year-old graduate whose job search took on an inventive turn after months of rejection by employers. Ajani stood in Waterloo Station holding a sandwich board advertising his degree results - and received a string of job interviews as a result.

As his story demonstrates, jobseekers can send off hundreds of job application letters with absolutely no reply. This summer, millions of school-leavers and graduates have gained a smorgasbord of GCSE, A-level and degree results. Depressingly, despite their academic success, a lot of these bright young people are headed straight for unemployment. The barrier between these candidates and paid work is not a lack of qualifications. It’s often because they don’t know how to apply for a job effectively.

We can’t blame candidates for this. In many cases they’ve never been taught how to write a job application letter or format a CV. This is bananas. Writing a job application letter and CV are essential life skills. Without them, you’ll struggle to earn a living. With them, you’ve got a better chance at starting and sustaining a career.  So why aren’t we teaching all students what to do? 

Many employers will tell you about the ridiculousness of the cover letters and CVs they receive. They contain the wrong information, or missing information, or too much information, or spelling mistakes, or scant evidence that the applicant could actually do the job. In real life, that person might be quite capable, but they fail to transmit that in writing. 

On the other hand, well-written CVs stand out so much that they can convince employers that they’re staring at someone they need, not just want, to hire. With competition for jobs as fierce as it is, that’s how you’ve got to make a prospective boss feel. Research released this week shows that a third of employers don’t bother to check the qualifications stated on candidates’ CVs. That’s disturbing, but it does prove how much a good CV and cover letter can do. 

Let’s teach candidates a uniform, effective way of setting out a CV and covering letter – something guided by real-life employers, so we know we’re teaching young people an approach that will work. Then we won’t have to force them to go out with sandwich boards in order to get a start in life.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Hilary Mantel in 2003 - years before she released a short story, in which she fantasised about the death of Margaret Thatcher  

In what universe is Hilary Mantel's imaginary assassination of Margret Thatcher worthy of police investigation?

Matthew Norman
Noddy Holder must be glad he wrote 'Merry Xmas Everybody' as he'll earn £800,000 this year from royalties.  

Noddy Holder: A true rock ’n’ roll hero, and a role model for sensible people everywhere

Rosie Millard
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam