1. CV’s, Covering Letters
and Application Forms
Career Development Centre
2. This session
Selling yourself on paper:
– CVs (tips, language, format, essentials)
– Covering letters (essentials, examples)
– Application forms (CAR)
3. Getting started
• What job do I want?
• What have I got to offer?
• What jobs are out there?
4. A CV is a Marketing Tool!
• Curriculum Vitae – course of life
Effective marketing is based
on sound research, allowing you to:
• Target your application
• Support your application with
evidence of skills
5. Employers’ three questions
• Can you do the job
– Do you have the required knowledge and
• Do you want the job?
– Do you have the motivation?
• Will you fit in?
– Do you have the relevant values and
6. Job descriptions
• Employer definition of what they are
• Develop list of skill requirements from
variety of relevant job roles
• Collate your evidence for required skills
and any development areas
7. Finding the evidence
• Course work, presentations, group work, reports
• Course representative
• Student Union activities
• Sports / hobbies / clubs
• Work experience
• Voluntary activities
8. Career player website
9. What makes a good CV?
• What works best?
Type: Chronological or skills based
• Format & layout – first things first,
• Keep it concise– why use 20 words when
5 will do?
• Separate sections for readability
• Target – one size rarely fits all
10. CVs - Points to consider
• Skills and Achievements - relevant to the role, results
focused – which skills are the employer looking for?
• Back it up – list achievements not duties!
• Evidence – how are you meeting the job spec?
• Language - action verbs, concise, avoid jargon
• Axe what is not essential!
11. Positive Skills Based Language
My duties included serving customers at the bar.
I handled cash and kept the area tidy. I had to
work under pressure.
• Demonstrated good customer care skills by
increasing the number of regular customers.
Received bonus payment as a result.
• Initiated happy hour promotion resulting in 30%
increase in sales.
• Took responsibility for supervising 3 temporary staff.
 Identify what each employer wants
 Demonstrate how you meet the criteria
 Provide evidence of your skills and experience using the
Context – where were you? What did you
have to do?
Action – what action did you take? Be
explicit about your role
Result - what was the outcome and
why? Would you do it
differently next time?
“As customer service team leader in a fast food restaurant, I dealt with customer
issues and complaints quickly and efficiently, receiving appreciation from my line
14. Getting the format right
Starts with your most recent job,
and then works backwards
 Emphasises continuity and
progression over time
 Easy to follow
 Good if you have worked for
well known companies
 Difficult if your career is patchy
 Harder if changing careers
 Not so good if you are new to
the job market
Presents your main skill areas
 Strong emphasis on skills
 Jobs and work history are
 Overcomes the difficulty of
not having a lot of experience
 Difficult if you want to
 Might lose the impact of any
prestigious companies you
have worked for
15. CV top tips
 Your CV should reflect you
 Target your CV
 Follow the recruiters instructions
 Choose an effective format
 Keep your CV to an appropriate length
 Pay close attention to detail - presentation, language,
spelling and grammar
16. What not to do
 Curriculum Vitae at top of CV
 DOB/Marital Status
 Referees (unless asked for)
 Don’t attach a photo unless asked to do so
 Don’t double side print the CV - single sided, no staples
 Don’t use a font less than 10
 Avoid boxes and format that will take attention away
 DO NOT USE CAPITAL LETTERS unless it’s a heading
17. Application ‘examples’
• On application for accountancy - closely involved in every
aspect of my former company, right up to its bankruptcy
• Excellent memory skills, good analytical skills, memory
• I have a criminal record but I am not in jail at the moment
• I have a desire to work with commuters
• Hi, I want 2 get a job with U
• Here are my qualifications for you to overlook
• Suspected to graduate early next year
• It is true that “All men/women are born equal” but at the
same time have different levels of intelligence and ability
• Applying to United Biscuits - my life-long love of
chocolate biscuits, is the main reason for my interest in
18. An employer’s perspective
Simon Reichwald - CEO Graduate Success
19. CV examples
and peer review
20. …that works in partnership with and
complements your CV
The Covering Letter –
promotes BENEFITS you will bring
The CV –
promotes your key FEATURES
A Covering Letter is a
21. Covering Letters
• Why are you writing?
• What are you offering the employer?
• Why do you want to work in that field?
• What has attracted you to that specific
• When you are available (for interview)?
22. Email communication
• Aim is to get your attachments opened….
• ‘Mini covering letter’
• Formal, business style should be used
• Watch your spelling and grammar – no text
speak or abbreviations!
23. Covering letter / email
 Your marketing statement – Sell not Tell
 Write to a named person or Dear Sir/Madam
 Highlight how you meet the job requirements – keep it
concise and relevant
 Sign off correctly – ‘yours sincerely’ for a named
person or ‘yours faithfully’ for Dear/Madam
24.  Get the structure right
 Reference / subject line
 Paragraph 1 – Why are you writing
 Paragraph 2 – What are you offering the
 Paragraph 3 – What attracts you to the
 Paragraph 4 – State when you are
available for interview and end on a
Covering letter / email
25. Detailing your experience
• Include specific,
qualifications for the
• Use numbers,
names of equipment
you've used, or
features of a project
that may apply to
the job you want.
e.g. As a Customer Service
Barclays, I provided quality
customer service while
promoting the sale of
products to customers. I
also handled £10,000 a
day and was responsible
for balancing the bank’s
27. Important points to
•Every letter should be tailored to each person you write
to –decision maker
•Never write a generalmail eshot letter:
-9/10 end up in the bin
-Misrepresents and under sells you
•Include your own full contact details
•No inappropriate email address
•Don’t mention salary unless asked to
•Should not exceed one A4 page
28. Key points to remember!
• Appeal to company values, attitudes, goals, projects,
• Draw the reader’s attention to your CV.
• Proofread for spelling and grammar –The letter
should be error-free
– Stat: 60% cover letters contain linguistic errors
–essential to check and double check for
spelling and grammatical errors –will affect
(source: CV Centre, UK)
• Don’t just trust spell check! Have a friend/colleague
proofread for you, as well.
• Link thoughts and paragraphs (e.g. “further”,
29. Covering letter / email
Video – careercake
30. CV vs Application Form
CV Application Form
You control content Employer controls
You identify skills Employer gives
Identical format for
31. Application forms
• Research the company and job role
• Match your experience / evidence to each
• Answer all parts of the questions, including
• Why do you want the position?
• Most large companies now recruit
graduates using online
• The form comes with clear
guidelines on how to complete it –
• Read the whole form first, plan
your answers/examples, proof-
read, and keep a copy
33. Competency-based questions
The questions often begin with: “Please tell us about a time when...”
Use the STAR format to structure your answers:
Situation – What was the context? Where were you? What were you doing?
Task – What was your goal? What was the problem or challenge?
Action – What action did you take? Be explicit about your role.
Result – What was the outcome & why? Would you do it differently next time?
34. Example of a STAR response
When I was working as a retail assistant in a busy high
street store, it was a Saturday morning and I was left in
charge of opening up the shop because all the other
staff phoned in sick. There were lots of customers, the
shelves needed stacking and I was running about trying
to find some help. I dealt with the customers first, then
did some shelf stacking and called a colleague for some
help as soon as I had a spare moment. I was able to
open the shop and although it didn’t run as smoothly as
usual, no-one complained and I didn’t have to call the
manager who was on holiday. Looking back, I could
have opened up 5 minutes later and called for help, this
might have caused fewer delays later on.
Describe a time when you have had to work under pressure.
35. Star exercise
• Think about an example you could STAR
36. Application forms - Top tips
1. Read the person specification and identify the essential and
desirable criteria – short listing is based on your responses to
2. Give STAR responses that address each of the criteria
3. Spell check – copy and paste from a word processor if necessary
4. Double check every box on the form before you submit it – do not
leave any box blank unless specifically told to do so. Put “N/A” or
“Not Applicable” in boxes that don’t apply to you.
5. Don’t leave it until the deadline to submit the application – bring it
and the person specification to Careers and let us have a look at it
• Prepare an online application
• Go to ‘Select Simulator’
• Register your details
• Click on ‘Personal Achievements’
• Complete the section
38. Application forms – what next?
 Applications are read/scanned and
checked against a competency grid
 Applications that meet most of the
competencies will be shortlisted. If
competition is fierce only those that meet
ALL the essential criteria will be
 Missing key information, insufficient
evidence, did not meet the essential or
desirable criteria, spelling errors, poor
39. Tips on completing application
40. In summary
• Target your CV,letter and application form
• Provide strong examples/evidence
• Keep it RELEVANT
• Address the skills and competencies needed
• STAR/CAR method
....and, if you need help, seek advice and
41. Further information and
Career Development Centre:
• 20-minute quick queries:
CV, covering letter, application form advice
• 45-minute: individual career coaching,
detailed career planning, mock interviews
• Online careers advice, jobs and events system
• CV Guide
• Free sector-specific and general careers
(all services available free 3 years after graduation)
42. Contact us
Maria Hewlett Building
Nearest tube: Northwick Park
101 New Cavendish Street
Nearest tube: Warren St/
Goodge St/Gt Portland St
*Open during Summer*Tel: 020 7911 5184
43. Skills Academy
• 27 May – 6 June
• External Industry experts/Internal CDC
• CVs, Interviews, Self Awareness, Public
Speaking, Personality Testing, Leadership,
Mindfulness, Networking, Commercial
Awareness and much much more
• Booking via Prospects.net
44. Copy of these slides: