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How to write_cv

  1. 1. HOW TO WRITE A CVEditor: Kate MurrayWritten by: Careers Advisers, The Careers Group, University of LondonProduction: Natalie Boo-MosqueraThis publication/material can be provided in alternative formats uponrequest to the Head of Communication Services tel: 020 7863 6041 or emailmilkround@careers.lon.ac.uk
  2. 2. The Careers Group, University of London, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DNPublished by The Careers Group, University of Londonwww.careers.lon.ac.ukFirst Edition: January 1988 Reprinted: June 1989, April 1990, November 1990, February 1991Second Edition: July 1991 Reprinted: December 1991, October 1992, June 1993Third Edition: November 1994 Reprinted: April 1996, November 1997Fourth Edition: May 2000 Reprinted: October 2001, August 2004, November 2005, January 2006, June 2006Fifth Edition: December 2006Copyright © The Careers Group, University of London, 2006No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any way without thewritten consent of The Careers Group, University of London.ISBN: 0718716663Copies can be purchased from The Careers Group, University of London, www.careers.lon.ac.uk/booksOther publications from The Careers Group, University of London:How to Change Your CareerHow to Complete an Application FormHow to Succeed at Interviews and Other Selection MethodsHow to Analyse and Promote Your Skills for WorkGraduate Entry to MedicineGetting into International Development
  3. 3. CONTENTS Introduction p1 Section 01 Starting off p2 Section 02 The employers perspective p3 Section 03 What to include and what not to include p4-13 Section 04 Adapting your CV p14-16 Section 05 Dealing with difficult circumstances p17-18 Section 06 Cover letters p19-22 Section 07 What to do next... p23 Section 08 Sample CVs p23-31 Reading list / websites p32
  4. 4. INTRODUCTIONWHY CVS ARE IMPORTANTYoure applying for a job, and have been asked to supply a CV andcover letter. Or maybe youre applying speculatively - sendingout CVs and letters to people you think may have a job to offer.Or perhaps, youre uploading a CV to a vacancy-matchingwebsite.In each case, the CV (and letter) will be the means by which anemployer gets to know you. Its your passport to a first meetingwith that employer. As such, its acting as a sales document, anadvert that is selling you, with your unique set of skills andattributes. Itll sit on a recruiters desk, or in their email in-box,giving someone an idea of who you are and whether youre rightfor their role.A CV is a crucial piece of evidence. It must capture therecruiters imagination and give them a picture of you. You needto make it easy for them to match what you can offer with whatthey need for their role, so that your application doesnt sit onthe maybe pile and certainly not on the no pile. With somework and an understanding of what theyre looking for, yourapplication should be able to head straight for the yes pile.HOW TO USE THIS BOOKUse this book as a reference point when youre designing yourown CV. There is no one right way to compose a CV but wevegathered together good and bad examples, explained whatemployers are looking for, and suggested ways round sometricky issues. Dont use the examples as absolutes: they arehere to offer you some pointers as to ways you might developyour own version! You are unique and your CV must reflect that.Remember that the advice offered here is for UK CVs.Recruitment is done in different ways in other countries and youshould seek advice about how to tackle CVs for use elsewhere.Remember too that everyone thinks they are an expert on CVs: ifyou approach more than one person for advice on your CV, youllget more than one answer on how to do it. But we hope that byusing this book, youll gain a better idea of the recruitmentprocess so that you are well prepared to use your ownjudgement and discretion on how best to present yourself tofuture employers.Good luck! 1
  5. 5. Section 01Section 01STARTING So, you know you need to write thisOFF document. Youre sitting there with a blank screen, trying to figure out what the CV actually is. Where do you start?CONSIDER THESE STATEMENTS: A CV offers a snapshot of who you are. Think about the first page of a book - it either holdsYour CV should be a structured summary of yourrelevant skills, achievements and experiences. It your attention or it doesnt. It is important toshould be a resumé of what you have to offer an remember that it is not just about theemployer. It should provide information about the qualifications you hold, but also about the type ofpotential you have to develop. person you are. A CV needs to keep the interestIf youve seen a job description or person specification, of an employer and make them want to have ait should also be your response to what the employerhas said theyre looking for. conversation (interview) with you. To do this, you need to think about how you can differentiateNotice that weve not said a CV is a list of everything yourself from the field and make sure theseyouve done. Sure, you must make sure that youvesupplied information about most of your life, but it elements stand out on the page.must be done in a structured and critical way. Tamaryn Dryden, Credit Suisse A CV has essentially only one purpose: to makeYOUR AUDIENCE me, the reader, want to interview you.This document may be the first impression that the Therefore, it has to be targeted to my position.employer has of you. By making it immediately It has to reflect the fact that you meet therelevant to their needs, youre going to be exciting their required criteria in terms of capability andinterest, leading hopefully to an opportunity for you toimpress them even more by meeting them at interview. qualifications in a manner that is quick and easyYour audience is crucial. Dont write your CV totally to read.from your point of view. You may be most proud of one Andrew McLaren, Smith & Williamsparticular piece of work experience you had, but missout or dismiss without detail something you considermore mundane that actually is more useful to thepotential employer. This is specially true of things like The theory goes that if youve got this skill now, youshop or bar work - just think of all the useful skills should be able to build on it in a future job role. If youyoure developing in those high-pressure customer- havent, youll need to provide evidence for some kindfocussed environments! of ability to learn or adapt. Your Careers Adviser can help you to think through the skills youve acquired,You need to be able to stand outside yourself, to be from study or work.quite strict in analysing what youve done, and then getcreative in using dynamic words and phrases to You will need to take time to understand individualdescribe it. employers needs and adapt the information you present accordingly: one CV will not do for everyWHAT DO I PUT IN? application. Youll be prioritising or highlighting different duties, experiences, skills and evidenceWere looking at three different things here: depending on the job youre applying for. Once youve the duties you actually performed, been in the world of work for a bit, dont forget to the skills you developed from them, update your CV with the new duties and skills, checking and the evidence you can provide to back up your that the previous ones are still relevant and youre not claims. repeating yourself.2
  6. 6. Section 02THE EMPLOYERS This section is about the people who will be readingPERSPECTIVE your CV: who they are, what they want, and how you can persuade them to see you.Essentially you are trying to provoke a reaction in the WHAT ARE THEY ASSESSING ME AGAINST?reader, to get them to think or feel or do somethingand in this instance, to be excited enough by your Employers will usually have a clear idea of the jobapplication to put you on the yes pile, not the maybe description for the role and you will probably haveor no piles. received that as part of an application pack. If not, then the advert should give you some clues as to what theAll documents, whether postcards, essays, business job will include. More sophisticated employers willreports or screenplays, are written with the reader (or have devised a Person Specification for the job: amore likely, readers) in mind. The closest parallel is document that details the competencies or skills thatwriting a sales letter or a piece of marketing literature, the person doing the job needs to have. Again, you maywhere the prize product is you. have received this as part of the pack. Both these documents are vital in giving you the clues as to how to match your skills and experiences with what theWHO READS YOUR CV? employer is looking for. If you havent got either a job description or person specification, then see what youBefore sitting down with your application, ask yourself: can glean from the website or advert, or even find outwho will read my CV? The likely possibilities are: if its possible to have an informal discussion with an Internal HR professional. employee about what the organisation would be Third party service provider such as a recruitment. expecting. consultant or head-hunter. Future Line Manager. [In a good application] the student has targeted Future Line Managers PA. General Office Manager. their CV to highlight the areas which are Retired Director or Non-Executive Director. relevant to the role. This does not mean inventing material or lying about their experience. [TheyIf you cant find out, dont worry. Assume that your CV should] focus not just on technical skills but trywill be read by both those who run the recruitment to demonstrate soft skills in theirprocess, usually HR, and those who have the problem, experience/action.ie the unfilled vacancy, which is usually a Line Daniel Lawton, NortelManager. Make sure that youve covered areas thatboth sides are interested in. HOW DO THEY DO IT?WHAT DO THEY WANT? The reader of your CV will first and foremost be checking that you have fulfilled the most basic criteriaEach of these potential readers has different for the role, that you have at least some of the skillsperspectives, but they are united by a common they are looking for. Then, they will be checking yourpurpose: they all want to make a good hire. Hiring staff experiences for signs that you have the potential tois expensive in time and money - one leading national shine in their organisation. Some organisationsIT employer revealed recently that it cost about £3000 literally use tick boxes to match off potentialto employ each person onto its graduate stream - and employees against their skills requirements. You musteven for small employers, there is a cost in terms of help them by demonstrating clearly and, crucially, withadvertising and staff time in sifting and then good evidence, that you have considered their needsinterviewing. Recruitment can be stressful and and understand what they are looking for. Hiring staffunsettling for existing teams. Your task is to make it should be a forward-looking experience for thesimple for the employer. organisation: show them how you can help them! 3
  7. 7. Section 03WHAT TO INCLUDEAND WHAT NOT TOINCLUDE Even though each CV is unique, there are some sections that you must include. Read this in conjunction with the section on Adapting your CV.PERSONAL DETAILS What do you say about your degree/post-grad course? It does depend on how much is relevant. If, for instanceThese usually go right at the top of page one and, with you are aiming at a job where you need certainclever word-processing, neednt take up too much technical or academic knowledge then make itspace. You dont need to write Personal Details or perfectly plain that you have this. If its appropriate, listCV. courses and give marks. It could be worth thinking Diana Clark about listing just the higher grades. For more general 1 Winton Avenue, London, SW12 0NO graduate roles, steer clear of overkill: the reader may Tel: 020 8123 4567 Mobile: 07789 123456 not want to hear about the use of topography in Email: dclark@kcc.ac.uk Thomas Hardys novels or your experiments with dead pondlife in the Mendip Hills.Strictly speaking, name, address, email and phonenumbers are all that is necessary. Ensure that it isobvious how to contact you if you have different term Queens College, University of London 2004-2007time and vacation addresses; include dates if BA Geography Expected Grade 2.1necessary. My degree has dealt with the impact of human beings on the environment with my final year optionsDate of birth is optional and not necessary, particularlyin the light of new anti-ageism legislation. Do include including:your nationality if there is any possibility that Regional Economic Development in the UK.employers would query whether or not you have the Economic and Social Development in the Thirdright to work in the UK. Ensure that your visa status is World.clear. You might want to include Gender if your name The Effect of IT on post-industrial economies.isnt sex specific, e.g. Alex, or if your name is foreign or In a major final year project, I studied the attitudes ofunusual, but this is by no means essential and entirely London East End residents to the increased growth ofup to you. Similarly, it isnt necessary to indicate your refugee numbers within the local community.marital status or to mention any dependents unlessyou particularly want to. Skills gained include: Compiling a comprehensive questionnaire.TOP TIP: If you need help formatting this section, you Analysing around 200 responses using complexcould use a Table in Word. computing and statistical techniques. Time-management in ensuring the project completed on time to be incorporated into a largerEDUCATION study.Usually, your education would come next, particularly Adapting my communication styles through workingif you are applying as a current or very-recently with different community sectors.graduated student. If you are a more mature person Negotiation and persuasion through asking peoplewith extensive work experience, it might work better to to participate in sensitive discussions.concentrate on your work history instead. Purley High School for Boys 1999-2003Your most recent education comes first: the employer A levels: Geography (A), Maths (B), English (B).is far more likely to want to hear about your time at GCSEs: 12 including English and Maths at Grade Auniversity than the detail of your GCSEs.4
  8. 8. TOP TIP: There is no need to put the full address of the From April 2007 - present: Technician, processuniversity, college or school, but a hint as to its research laboratory at Inco Acton, London, a preciouslocation might be handy. For instance, you may want metal refinery.to "place" Royal Holloway in Egham or your old school Main duties:in a particular town. Carrying out experiments in the laboratory for a project aiming at decreasing the quantities ofIn all cases, you should work hard to figure out the key nitrogen oxides emitted.transferable skills that you learned from your course: Writing reports.you will have expended a lot of time and effort on it and Sharing results with rest of the Technical &you should extract as much as possible from it! On the Development team through monthly oralprevious page is an extract from one CV demonstrating presentations.how best to make use of your degree: Skills gained:Always give your actual or expected class of degree Managed to obtain interesting experimental resultsand dont think that "second class honours" will and to present them efficiently to colleagues anddisguise the 2.ii. If there is a genuine reason for a less- supervisors.than sparkling degree, sum it up briefly: "Disappointing Used patent information to set up experiments.result due to illness in final year". If you were close toa First or 2.i, list the overall mark. December 2006 - March 2007: Technician at IncoBe brief with GCSE results but ensure that you tell Actonemployers you have the grades and subjects they arelooking for. Conversely, you should note all your A Main duties:level (or equivalent) grades. If they were good, Taking samples at different stages of theemployers need to know this. If not, leaving them out production.doesnt fool anybody. Recording the weight of the bulk in preparation for the stock take. Laboratory research work.CAREER OR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY Skills gained:Jobs should be put in reverse chronological order, just Adapted quickly to the different tasks given and toas the education section was ordered above. the different teams.Employers will be looking for candidates who have Worked efficiently and communicated well withtaken the time to match up their own abilities with the process operators, research chemists, areaemployers needs, as outlined in an advert or person supervisors and managers.specification. A good way to structure these sections is Kept paperwork up-to-date to ensure it would beto separate out the actual duties you performed as partof your job from the skills you learned from doing the ready by the stock take.duties. Ensure that you can back up your claims tohave particular skills with good examples and July and August 2005: Sales Assistant, Coffee Shop,demonstrable results. Camden High Street, LondonYou dont have to keep your jobs in this order, though. Main duties:It could work to put jobs under titles such as Relevantor Additional Experience which would cover periods of Till keeping, taking orders, making and serving hotvoluntary work, placements or internships. See the drinks.Adapting your CV section for more help with this. Skills gained:However, if you have done many jobs and are applying Worked under pressure: reacting quickly andfor something in perhaps a different sector, you may appropriately to customers demands.like to think about ordering your jobs according to the Acquired diplomacy skills; communicated well withskills learned. sometimes difficult customers of all nationalities. 5
  9. 9. This mature student has identified the skills she PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICEbelieves are necessary in a management accountantsrole, and applied her background to them, giving Below is a job advert from Oxford University Press,examples from her own life as well as previous work. followed by CVs from two different candidates. EachThis section would come on page one of her CV, with has chosen to approach their application in a differentdetails about her jobs and education, interests and so way but both have focussed extremely carefully on theon, on the second page. skills required for the job. Reading the advert:RELEVANT SKILLS Oxford University Press Are you ready to make a difference?Numeracy: Law Marketing, Academic Division Product Marketing Assistant, Police and Crime Sector. Self employed - responsible for own book-keeping, Based in Oxford for the first 6 months, there after Oxford or accounting and financial planning. Baker Street, London Theoretical approaches to number developed in Salary range: c£18,000 mathematics degree, including mathematical models, economics, statistics. Our Law Marketing department is looking to recruit an Managed clients property accounts as an estate effective Marketing Assistant who can help take the agent including calculating rent increases, advising strategic marketing of our Police and Crime lists to the next on market rates. level. Juggled mortgage payments and other necessities Preferably with some law background and experience in with grant and part-time work. publishing, you will assist in our innovative marketing campaigns and activities to grow sales in a competitiveCommunication: marketplace. Reporting to the Marketing Manager in this sector, you will need to demonstrate your marketing and research skills, together with an aptitude for successful Liaised effectively between clients and tenants relationship building within the law field. serving both interests. Negotiated with suppliers and bank managers To succeed in this role, you will ideally need: whilst self-employed. Experience in publishing and knowledge of the Built sound relationships with customers. professional law field. Listened to others needs as a Student Liaison Creative marketing skills in devising effective Officer. marketing initiatives. Project management skills; a methodical and thorough approach and a keen eye for detail.Analysis and decision making: Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Analytical and problem-solving skills. A degree. Advanced maths work has developed my perseverance to solve complex problems. Please send your CV, cover letter and salary details to our HR Dept. OUP offers excellent benefits including final salary pension scheme, Thinking on my feet, making effective decisions 25 days holiday, subsidized staff restaurant, 50% off OUP books, when running a business to solve the unexpected. season ticket travel loans, and flexible start/finish times. Considering a range of options to maximise clients returns from their properties. Words to focus on: effective, strategic, innovative,Managing change: some law, experience in publishing, marketing and research skills, successful relationship building. OUP Effectively changed computer lab access times in has obviously decided they want someone reasonably my role as Student Liaison Officer. dynamic, who understands a bit about the legal Adapted fully to university life, making friends with publishing world but is prepared most of all to commit students of all ages and cultures. their enthusiasm and imagination. Note carefully all Travelled extensively thriving in new surroundings. the skills they are looking for.Information technology: In compiling your CV for this job, you would need to ensure you were using similar language and show Regularly use Windows NT. youd really understood what OUP means. Take your Advanced Excel, Word and Access through using experiences and analyse them for their relevance and spreadsheets for clients properties and working on the priority they should be given in terms of space on various databases. your CV.6
  10. 10. Our first candidate is Sinnita Akram, a law student keen to move into marketing. She presents herself using a traditional, experience-based format, successfully glossing Sinnita has kept the CV over her lack of actual paid work experience in the area through her careful analysis ofheading simple and it the competencies shes gained from various different areas.looks clear andprofessional. SINNITA AKRAM Although a personal 55 Beauchamp Place, London, SE5 8RPprofile can often be quite Tel: 020 8666 7777 Mob: 07789 192030bland, Sinnita has used Email: sinnita.akram@hotmail.comthis one to explain whyshe is moving away from PERSONAL PROFILElaw. It also highlights the Soon to graduate in Law, I plan to build on the experiences I have gained within and outsidekey marketing my degree to develop a career in marketing. A major achievement during university was toachievement of her increase profits for the Law Society ball, principally through achieving better ticket sales andcareer to date so that an good sponsorship arrangements.employer would keep onreading to find out more. EDUCATION As her law background 2006-2009 BA Law, Regal College, University of Londonis obvious, she hasnt Modules studied: all compulsory modules for entry to the legal professionused up space listing all Skills gained:the modules. - Understanding of the legal world, through working with professional lawyers who taught on the course. Here she has analysed - Research and project management, through ensuring my 5,000-word thesis Intellectualher degree to determine Property: the Aborigines and the Da Vinci Code was researched, written and delivered onwhich skills she learned time.from it are relevant to the - Excellent and well-tested analytical skills, developed through the system of defending myrole, using the job legal opinions during seminar discussions.description. 2003-2005 Nottingham Sixth Form College A Levels in English (A), History (B), French (B) A-ha! She has selectedher most relevant 1997-2003 Green Lane College, Exeterexperience to go first, 10 GCSEs including Maths (A*) and English (A*)acknowledging that herother experience is not RELEVANT EXPERIENCErelevant and that an Oct-Dec 2006 Marketing Officer, Law Society Christmas Ball Bahemployer will notice this. Humbug! Duties included: She has split the duties - Ensuring all 600 tickets to the ball were sold at full price.she undertook for this - Creation of effective marketing campaign.campaign, from the skills - Raising profile of Law Society within Regal College.she developed from it. - Creating on-going relationships with sponsors.Neat bullet points keep itto the point and relevant. Skills developed: - Web design and better understanding of use of technology in developing marketing This is the really campaign. I successfully created a brand and images associated with the brand which Iimportant part of the CV. uploaded to the Law Society website and used in email and text messaging of allSinnita has taken theskills from the job students. Informal evaluation showed that students recognised the Bah Humbug! branddescription, shown how even if they had not bought a ticket.she has developed them, - Excellent negotiation skills. I improved the previous sponsorship total raised fromand then put in a crucial £15,000 to £34,000 through targeted approaches to law firms. I followed up thesepiece of fact to back up approaches with personal contacts and was pleased when the law firms chose to sendher statement. representatives to the evening. These contacts will be of continued benefit to the Law Society. 7
  11. 11. Team-working is not a - Eye for detail: I proof-read all marketing materials, from press releases, ticket informationskill shown on the job and web material, through to the on-the-night programme. This resulted in fewer mistakesdescription, but by detailing and meant we kept to the print deadlines.it on her CV, Sinnita shows - Team-working through dealing with the rest of the committee. I found the most importantshe understands that the element was keeping everyone involved and informed.job is likely to be part of asmall team. She has even Sep 2005 - Aug 2006 Intern, Booksmart Charity, Londonsuggested one way sheworks to improve teams. Duties included: - Gained administrative experience in a busy childrens book charity which specialises in getting childrens books published through working with publishers, authors and public libraries. - Assisting in organising childrens book launches; booking catering, equipment and assisting Here, she shows that on the day.she understands that - Worked on database and produced reports from it for management team.communication skillsmeans more than just Skills developed:chatting to her colleagues. - Excellent communication through working with many different sorts of people, from children and parents, to library policy teams etc. - Analytical ability improved through working on database reports. - Understanding of the main movers in the publishing industry and factors involved in the success of books. ADDITIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE Although this experience Jun- Jul 2007, Intern, AB&O LLP, Chancery Lane, Londonis not directly relevant tothe marketing role, it Duties included:provides good background - Four week-long seats in commercial, property, contract and tax.which Sinnita has exploited. - Taking notes during client meetings. - Administrative duties. Skills developed: - Awareness of workings of international law firm, such that I became more confident in addressing solicitors and partners about legal issues. - Importance of good presentation and correct forms of communication with clients. She has quantified howwell she uses IT packagesso that the employer has TECHNICAL SKILLSsome idea of her level of - Familiarity with all MS Office packages; I produced my thesis myself using Word,skill. incorporating Excel spreadsheets and using images. I used Access at Booksmart. - Good knowledge of Dreamweaver: see www.rcl.ac.uk/lawsoc/BahHumbug for Just beware the web demonstration.address is current! - Good conversational knowledge of French and German. - Clean driving licence. Rather than just put INTERESTSreading she has given - I am a keen reader of classic literature and a founder member of a small book club.enough detail to be - I sing in a chamber choir performing in venues such as St Johns Smith Square and the Royalinteresting and show Opera House Linbury Studio.commitment.8
  12. 12. The second candidate is more mature and has chosen to present her experiences promoting her skills rather than focusing on the short-term jobs shes held. Amelia Morales 39 Stroud Green Avenue, Bodlington, BR3 9LK 020 8111 1234 a.morales@arn.ac.uk Amelia has addressedeach of the skills asked Marketing Skills: - Set up and developed Access distribution list to send regular mailingsfor in the job advert. to Arnedale alumni, resulting in a 10% overall increase in attendance By putting in some at events.figures about her - Assisted in designing campaign to encourage membership of alumniachievements, it makes it society.more real and proves her - Carried out market research project to find out what services wereeffectiveness. required by alumni. Involved designing and analysing questionnaire, achieved 25% response rate. The fourth point - Actively promoted Salsa club to reach a wider audience offeringdemonstrates a certain discounts to local businesses.amount of creativity whichis asked for in the advert. Project Management Skills: - Organising annual alumni event involved planning strategy six This shows she has months in advance, prioritisation of tasks such as booking venue,thought through what speakers and catering. Ensuring expenditure kept within budget.project management - Managing production of quarterly alumni magazine, co-ordinatingactually means and contributions, liaising with printers.demonstrates how she - Set up salsa night in local bar. Negotiated terms, planned lessons,has learned the skill. worked out pricing and advertising strategy. Increased numbers attending by approximately 10% per month in first year of operation. Communication and Interpersonal Skills: - Interviewing people for magazine required good listening skills and ability to represent peoples words in writing. - Excellent service skills, establishing ongoing relationships with bookshop customers. - Negotiating deadlines and work with writers and other professionals at New View, needed to be firm but diplomatic. - Working closely with editorial team at New View publishing taking responsibility for own workload and clearly communicating progress to team. - Persuading companies to advertise in alumni magazine. Ensuring these relationships were maintained to encourage repeat adverts. Analytical, research and problem solving skills: - Analysing data from market research questionnaire qualitatively and quantitively (using Excel), using data to assess changes needed to current events and activities. - Good research and analytical skills developed through law degree. - Continually research both new companies to approach for advertising and competitor activity on salsa scene. - Creative problem solving, finding new ways to increase book sales in light of competition from internet book sites. 9
  13. 13. You could question why Publishing Skills:‘publishing skills’ isnt top - Knowledge of legal publishing from sales work with Chancery Books.of her list as it is in the job - Dealing with administration of publishing contracts and royalties at Newadvert, particularly as using View Publishing.this format means that the - Developed knowledge of whole publishing process.jobs shes undertaken are - Gained insight into marketable books through reading manuscripts.kept to the second page. Employment: September 2005 - Present Communications Officer, Arnedale University, Kent Amelia should haveprovided more detail on August 2004 - August 2005these job roles, particularly Administration Assistant, Arnedale University, Kentthe legal book-selling, so December 2001 - January 2004that we had some context Bookseller (Part-time). Chancery Books, Londonfor the skills she has listed. October 1997- September 2000 Editorial Assistant, New View Publishing, Cambridge May 1995 - October 1997 Office Assistant. New View Publishing, Cambridge Her law degree, whichprovides much of her Education:relevant law background, September 2001 - June 2004needs to be highlighted a LLB (Hons) 2:2, Balcombe University, Londonlittle more. September 1993 - June 2004 OCR Diploma in Office Administration, Newman College of Further Education, Stockport September 1991 - June 1993 8 GCSEs, Grades A-C, Widemore School, Stockport Additional Information, Interests and Activities: IT Skills: Word (advanced), Access, Excel (intermediate), QuarkXpress, Photoshop (working knowledge) Travel: Working holidays in 1994 (Europe) and 2000 (Australia) undertook causal jobs, fruit picking and bar work. Salsa Teacher: Set up and run club in a local bar. Referees: Putting your referees Ms A Goldberg (employer) Dr G Bradley (tutor)details down is fine, but Director of External Relations Senior Lecturersometimes you may need Arnedale University Law Departmentthe space for more info on Kent Balcombe Universityyour jobs. KT1 4ML London NW2 8UK a.goldberg@arn.ac.uk g.bradley@bal.ac.uk 01457 344 566 020 7000 125610
  14. 14. Which way to go? It does depend; your experience may try to be as specific as you can about the months as itfit either style more easily. The first, traditional, style makes it easier for an employer to figure out where youmay come to you more readily and more employers are were when. There is a debate about whether or not toused to seeing CVs written in this way, which, if youre put dates on the left hand or right hand side of thetrying to make it easy for them to understand, may be information: generally it is much clearer and easier toa good thing. However, the skills-based route may well read if theyre on the left hand side, separated out.be a good starting point for people with a morechequered career history. Do both and see whichworks best for you! LAYOUT, FORMAT AND BRANDING Were assuming that people will be producing CVs onREFEREES pieces of A4 paper; stick to this assumption for most areas except perhaps the specialist art and design fieldIts usual to provide just a couple of references, but if where a more creative approach may be desirable.you felt that a third added an extra facet to yourexperience, you could give up to three referees. For Some people do create electronic CVs - mini websitesrecent graduates, youd normally name an academic where potential employers can take a look at theircontact; for those who have worked, the current or work - but on the whole, most employers like to readmost recent employer is normally listed. Of course, physical CVs and file them away so they need to beyou may not want your present boss to know that you reasonably standard.are planning to leave in which case you might say that"References can be provided on request". You could Therefore, do look carefully at your CV. Dont forgetalso use this phrase if space is at a premium. that the whole aim is to put the recruiter in the right frame of mind to read the document for long enough toAlways supply the full name, job title and company be interested in it and put you on the yes pile. Thinkname, and address: some recruiters may still prefer to about the use of space, margins and use of bold anduse postal mail as opposed to email or phone. italics, bullets and underlining. If in doubt, keep it simple. If you are being more creative, then thinkIt is not usual to include so-called testimonials or about how the presentation of the CV will affect the wayopen copies of general references from previous recruiters will view you (your brand) and be consistentemployers or tutors with an application. across your cover letter, CV pages or website.Remember to ask permission before you give out theirnames. When you are talking to them, give an idea of Font: you dont have to stick slavishly to Times Newwhat the job is so that they know what to concentrate Roman - copy your text into another font and see howon in their reference. it looks. Tahoma and Arial are clean modern fonts and easy to read. Ensure your font is easily readable byTOP TIPS: Try to use referees who are relevant to the most PCs in case you want to send your CV by email;job(s) for which you are applying. and make sure you stick to a single font rather than having varied ones which can look unfocussed and messy. Incidentally, size matters: dont go smaller than 11 point.TECHNICAL SKILLS Photo: not strictly necessary and may encourage some employers to discriminate. More acceptable in theIts quite common to include a short section on your IT media than for more regular professions.skills, whether or not you have a full, clean driving Graphics: may be a good idea if you if you are trying tolicence or even if you have a First Aid qualification. sell your creative skills, but not if it compromises orPeople often include their level of ability in languages crowds the actual text. Graphics may not photocopytoo. This section can be a useful round up of all the easily.skills that dont quite fit into any other part of the CV, Paper: use a good quality paper that can easily bebut the general rule of keep it relevant and provide photocopied. Similarly, make sure you only use blackevidence still applies. ink that can copy well and use only white or cream paper. Page numbers: think about the recruiter photocopyingDATES hundreds of CVs for different interviewers and one page going down the back of the copier! Ensure yourDont try to include actual dates down to the very day name and page one of two’ are inserted in a footer atyou started or left college or a particular job. But, do the bottom, just in case. 11
  15. 15. TOP TIP: If youre going to be emailing your CV, try to Profiles are best kept short and to the point.ensure you stick to very standard margins and fonts so Profiles can be very useful if they containthat your document stands a chance of arriving at an information specific to the individual applicant.employers in-box in a similar state to how you Be careful not to use this space to write a list ofdesigned it. Check it out by emailing it to a friend (or generic skills (communication, teamwork,even yourself) to see how it turns out. Do things likeputting in the page break using Ctrl+Enter so that its determination). Use the space to make theembedded into the formatting. You could consider recruiter remember your application and tell usputting the document into .pdf format so that it arrives something unique about yourself.in one piece, though if you do, check the employer has Lucy Walton, Bloombergsoftware that can read the document. A recruiting line manager reviewing a CV can be put off by a generic profile which does not fit withOPTIONAL EXTRAS the actual attributes required in thePersonal profile specification.This is a statement that offers a brief overview of your Simon Pass, Christiesskills and ambitions, and it would usually fit betweenyour personal details and the education section. Think Hobbies and interestscarefully about including a profile as they can often If all you can say is that you like reading and going tocome across as bland and rather generic: "I am a hard the cinema, its probably best to say nothing at all (youworking graduate with good communication skills" or dont have to include a hobbies section). Leave out any"Jo Smith will be an asset to your organisation.” mention of "socialising with my friends": recruiters willHowever, a profile could work particularly well to interpret this as partying, clubbing and hanging roundexplain your thinking if you are changing career pubs, which may not be the impression that you wantdirection. to give. There is an example of how you might structure these interests in a useful way later on.For artists CVs, a short, unpretentious statement isvital, to explain your philosophy and work. Medical CVsoften include a brief Career Plan providing some idea of Use this to make your application stand outhow you see yourself developing in the medical world. from the crowd, sell yourself and your experiences. There is not much point telling aIf you are going to include a profile, keep it short andthink about using bullet points to encourage the recruiter you like to swim/play tennis etc, unlessrecruiter to keep on reading: you can use it to demonstrate other qualities like A Law graduate with five years experience as a City dedication to achieving a goal. Relate everything solicitor. on the CV back to the job you are applying for. Seeking to use research and analytical skills in the conservation sector. Lucy Walton, Bloomberg Has started voluntary working as a gardener for a Wildlife Trust. The hobbies section is a way of demonstrating the type of person you are and what you enjoy.Achievements This section is a great opportunity for you toAlthough this is an important section for artists or illustrate your personality and to make youractors to use to sell themselves, its possibly not so CV more three-dimensional. Add facts that willmuch of a priority for other sectors. This is where youd make people curious about you and want tolist your shows and awards, for example. But, for other speak to you further. Think about when you meetpeople, dont include anything pre-sixth form unlessyou were an infant prodigy and won a national tennis people for the first time and what you would telltournament at age 14, for instance. Dwelling on school them about yourself. Qualify as much as possiblesuccesses may highlight the lack of them in later life. If - courses taken, accomplishments in that field oryou do have a lot to say in this category, divide it up levels and grades achieved.under relevant sub- headings e.g. Music, Sport. Tamaryn Dryden, Credit Suisse12
  16. 16. employers will discard CVs if they spot a spellingConferences attended, publications, electives etc mistake or grammatical error - remember, if theyveCVs for academic posts are slightly different from got hundreds to go through, theyll be looking for waysothers in that you do have space to write more fully to filter them down.about yourself and should include as much as you can.Medical CVs would need to include detail about the Facts only you think are importantelectives and Special Study Units youve undertaken. Keep your focus and ask yourself if what youreDo seek help from a Careers Adviser if youre including is relevant to the job and the employer. If itsembarking on such a CV for the first time. However, not relevant, think about ways you can make it appearthe advice given throughout this booklet still stands: so (sometimes you need to think laterally). If you cantthe contents of your CV must be targeted, relevant and make it relevant - leave it out. For example, you mayspecific to the post youre going for. have had lots of short-term café jobs which, if listed out separately, would look quite piecemeal and confusing. It may be better to conflate these under oneWHAT YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY LEAVE OUT various customer service jobs heading and then listing with examples the very valuable skills you wouldInappropriate email addresses have learned from them all.Email addresses that are for your friends eyes only.Your lagerlad78@hotmail.com is fine for your friendsbut isnt going to look great to a prospective employer. With the use of the advanced spelling andCreate a new one. grammar checkers available in MS Word there is no excuse for spelling mistakes. SomeNegativity grammar mistakes are allowed from studentsDont use soft words like tried, disappointed andmaybe. Instead use proactive, strong words such as whose first language is not English but otherwiseachieved, developed and created. Some of your it is very off putting.achievements may have come out of a negative Daniel Lawton, Nortelsituation, but you need to turn this into a positive. Forexample, instead of saying My predecessor had leftthe business in a mess and I turned things around you Listscould say I used my initiative to introduce several new A long list of duties or course modules is not going tomeasures and projects that would enhance the make you stand out. Employers want to know aboutperformance of the business. In short, always focus you, your skills and your achievements - they donton the positive: no employer wants to hire someone want a job description or course outline. However, itsthey think has a negative approach. fine to mention duties or courses that are of particular relevance or that highlight a particular skill.False informationLying about your results or your employment history Spelling is … important. Ive had numerousmay get you to the interview stage, but its unlikely to letters or e-mails from applicants saying theirget you any further. Interviewers will certainly ask youfor more details about the information on your CV, so it ambition is to be a journalist, but spellingwill soon be obvious if youve lied. Whats more, even if journalist completely wrong. Or saying theydyou did somehow slip through the net but were like some work experience at The Guardian andrumbled later on, employers are legally entitled to sending the application to me at Thewithdraw their offer. Stick to the facts! Independent. Careless mistakes are just notMistakes acceptable in an industry where fact checkingCheck, check, and check again. Check, double check, and excellent spelling is essential.triple check and if in doubt get a friend to check. Many Lesley Wright, The Independent 13
  17. 17. Section 04ADAPTING YOURCV By now, youll have realised that the One-CV-Fits-All approach isnt going to work. You need to adapt your CV to the different jobs youre aiming for. Below, we show you some ways of how this can work in practice.THE CV FOR A JOB WHERE YOU HAVE THEATRE EXPERIENCERELEVANT EXPERIENCE Administrative Assistant Arts Theatre, Great Newport StreetHere the fact that you know the role or the sector may September 2005 - August 2006be the key element. You are probably going to want thisrelevant experience to be as prominent as you can Acted as the main receptionist for this West Endmake it. theatre company. Handled the switchboard, reception and mail.Perhaps you are applying for a job in theatre Established good relationships with every area of theadministration. You have experience in a theatre but company including Artistic Director, Design andthat was 3 jobs ago. This is your work experience in Production Departments, Marketing, Box Office, Catering and Technical staff.reverse chronological order on your CV:Executive Officer/Information Officer OTHER EXPERIENCEInstitute of BiologyJanuary - August 2007 Executive Officer/Information OfficerAs executive officer, was PA to the head of department, Institute of Biologyand assisted in research and revision of a members January - August 2007handbook. As executive officer, was PA to the head of department, and assisted in research and revision of a membersTeaching Assistant handbook.Kingsmead College Studio Art ProgrammeWinter term 2006 Teaching Assistant Kingsmead College Studio Art ProgrammeTaught drawing on the portfolio development course Winter term 2006for BTEC students preparing for entry into Art School. Taught drawing on the portfolio development course for BTEC students preparing for entry into Art School.Administrative AssistantArts Theatre, Great Newport StreetSeptember 2005 - August 2006 Here youve taken out the relevant experience and highlighted it with a special heading. The otherActed as the main receptionist for all departments of experience is put in correct chronological order.this West End theatre company. Notice that although the theatre job was relativelyHandled the switchboard, reception and mail. mundane in itself, you can emphasise the way that it put you in touch with the wide range of activities in aWhat you need to do is make the theatre experience theatre. It appears first on the page, has its ownmore prominent, but doing so could break up the heading, and the analysis of the skills is more detailedchronology. Here is one possible solution: than in the other less relevant areas.14
  18. 18. THE CV FOR THE JOB WHERE YOU HAVE 2004 - 2007 Royal Hathaway College, LondonNO RELEVANT EXPERIENCE BSc Pharmacology with Toxicology (2.1)This CV calls for some creative thinking. The basic Experimental science degree involving the design ofstrategy is to look for elements in your experience that experiments using complex software and the accuratehave the closest parallels to the job in question. recording and analysis of results through database andAccountancy? You must at least have managed your spreadsheet manipulation. Subjects includedown finances, perhaps even those of a student society? physiology, the theoretical basis of pharmacology andEvent Management? What about your mothers drug design and development.surprise 50th birthday party, or your work in helpingFreshers to settle in to your Hall of Residence? It would help to also mention any use of computing technology that was required during the course toSay for example you want to be an IT consultant. Youre show an awareness of how IT impacted on laboratorya science student with limited IT knowledge. Your CV practice.offers a lot of technical detail on your degree.2004 - 2007 Royal Hathaway College, London THE ONE-PAGE CV BSc Pharmacology with Toxicology (2.1) You have lovingly crafted your two-page CV. Youre extremely confident that it conveys the essence of you,1st year: chemistry, experimental pharmacology, and at the same time matches employers in your cells and molecules, theoretical basis of chosen area. But, into your in-box drops a perfect job pharmacology, physiology systems, where they only want a one-page CV. What can you do? experiment design and analysis. Perhaps the easiest solution is to strip away the description and present the bare facts. If your CV2nd year: cell and tissue pathology, environmental experience section looks something like this: pharmacology and toxicology, applied pharmacology, experimental August 2007 Natural History Museum, London neuropharmacology, physiology and Tour Guide for Summer Groups pharmacology of the CNS, drug design Skills Gained and development. Ability to deal with numerous awkward questions! Communication with children aged 6-13yrs andFinal year: toxicology, cellular pharmacology, their teachers. central neuropharmacology and Creativity used to develop a range of methods to neurotoxicology, experimental explain complex scientific information. pharmacology of inflammation. Presentation skills. Ability to think on feet and deal with the unexpected.All of that detail would be fine and perhaps even June - July 2006 Natural History Museum, Londonnecessary for a lab assistant role, but how relevant is Summer Placementit for IT? It is worth noticing that in the description My main responsibility was to assist with thethere are some words that would make a lot of sense compilation of a database of specific zoologicalto IT specialists: references. The placement involved working closely with members of the scientific community at all levels. experiment design and analysis theoretical basis Skills Gained design and development. Communicating with colleagues at all levels with confidence and diplomacy.A scientific discipline - with its ordered method for Working as part of a dedicated team.setting up and recording experiments and observations Working effectively to a strict deadline.- is probably a good grounding for IT work. You could Attention to detail required to accurately record 26,000 references.present it like this: 15
  19. 19. You could re-work it like this: That could boil down to:Summer 2006 and 2007 Other ActivitiesNatural History Museum, London Play cello for the University Orchestra. Compiled zoological database for scientists. Committee member and Publicity officer of Debating Guided school groups round the Museum. Society. Team member and umpire for the college netball teamSay youve put in a lot of carefully-chosen, analyticaldetail about your Interests and Hobbies. All veryinteresting, but it takes almost half a page! The three lines show three separate areas of activity - a new one on each line. Concentrated together like this they can look very impressive, giving an idea of theMusic level of achievement and commitment even without theOne of my main interests is music. I have played the extra detail. When you come to write your coveringcello in the orchestra at both school and university. In letter, you may be able to use some of the ideasorder to succeed in this competitive environment it discarded at this stage.takes enthusiasm, determination and perseverance,but is also highly enjoyable. As part of a large group itis essential to get on with others and contribute to the “A skills-based CV is useful as long as theoverall performance. candidate can demonstrate evidence ofDebating utilising the skills highlighted. For example,In my second year I was elected Publicity Officer of the strong communication skills and organisationDebating Society. In addition to being responsible for skills are required for project managementthe publicity of all events, I was on a committee to help and we would be looking for practicalrun the society of over 100 members. We had to assesspopular topics of debate, invite key speakers and examples of these in a successful CV.”organise room bookings and refreshments for the Julie Gallacher, Thames Watermonthly debates.SportI am a member of the college netball team. We attenda number of inter-university fixtures each term. Thisachievement is due to our excellent team spirit and acommitment to succeed through regular practicesessions! I have also turned my hand to umpire somematches which requires extreme strength of characterand firm diplomacy!16
  20. 20. Section 05 Is your experienceDEALING WITH hard to summarise? Is there is something in your background that is difficult to portray inDIFFICULT a positive light? Are there situations where you fear prejudice?CIRCUMSTANCESIf you can, seek additional help in these circumstances FRAGMENTED PAST EXPERIENCEand try to ensure the employers youre approachinghave a positive attitude towards people in your If you have had a variety of experience - perhaps manycircumstances. There are many sources of help but it jobs of different kinds that vary in relevance to what youmay be best to start off with your Careers Adviser. want to do now - one way of presenting it is to give a brief chronology, and then follow a list of skills backed up with good examples from your various posts.CAREER CHANGEYour reasons for changing career can be set out in your UNDER-RATED EXPERIENCEcover letter, or in a section in your CV headed Objectiveor Personal Profile. In addition, you can discuss your Experience such as child-care, caring for elderlyexperience in such a way as to emphasise transferable parents and other domestic activities may beskills. See earlier where we talked about a skills- under-valued by employers. Use assertive language tobased approach to demonstrate your work experience. describe your experience to help break the stereotype. For example, you could choose to highlight skills youve acquired such as empathy, multi-tasking, ability t oMATURE STUDENTS co-ordinate, and dependability.New anti-age discrimination legislation meansemployers have to be extremely careful in the POOR OR NON-RELEVANT ACADEMIC RECORDlanguage they use to recruit staff and evaluatecarefully their recruitment procedures so as not to If your qualifications are not relevant to the job you aredistinguish between length of experience. As an older applying for, give a convincing reason why you want tograduate you have a lot to offer potential employers in move into a new area, perhaps using a Personalterms of skills and general maturity of outlook. You Profile. Stress the general transferable skills you havewill probably need to explain to a prospective employer acquired from your degree, such as research, analysis,why you made various choices in the past, and be time management and so on.particularly determined in highlighting the specificskills you have acquired in order to persuade the If your educational background is weak, with fewemployer to take you seriously. Write about your mitigating circumstances, place as much emphasis ascommitment and loyalty, realistic expectations, ability possible on other aspects of yourself, such as workto learn, adapt and change; and be positive about the experience, extra-curricular activities or otherwealth of experience you bring. Think carefully about responsibilities.including every single job you ever held: it might be If you believe an employer could view you as over-sensible to use a skills-based CV and put less relevant qualified educationally, highlight evidencework under an Additional Experience heading. demonstrating how well you have coped with the worldAnticipate concerns employers may have about you; for of work, outside academia. Place this near theexample, ensure that your IT skills are up-to-date and beginning of the CV, and summarise your educationalthat this is clear on your CV. qualifications briefly near the end; this may help 17
  21. 21. achieve the right balance. as time spent evaluating your options and careerSITUATIONS WHERE YOU FEAR PREJUDICE objectives. UnemploymentYou may be in poor health, have a period of This is often best covered by explaining the positive useunemployment, or a criminal record. At what point do you made of your time such as developing keyboardyou raise the issue with a prospective employer? There skills and so on. Perhaps you can describe it as a timeis no easy answer. Sometimes the risks of early for taking stock and re-evaluating your life direction, ordisclosure are less than those of concealment. absorb it into a period of part-time work. AlternativelyMentioning any difficulties in your CV or cover letter you may be able to date the work experience you doallows you to present the facts in your own way, and have through years rather than providing specificmay suggest to the employer that you are open and months and years which may highlight the gaps. Ifhonest. neither of these can be made applicable to your circumstances, be totally honest and describe theHowever, it may be wise in some instances to postpone period as a way of demonstrating your capacity todisclosure, with a view to increasing your chances of survive and recover. A final approach could be to referobtaining an interview, at which you may feel you could to it very briefly in the CV and provide a fullerput across the facts more effectively. But remember explanation at interview.that you are likely to have less control over how youpresent matters than you do when composing your CV Ethnic originand cover letter. Below we offer some more help and Despite legal protection, people feel that prejudiceguidance. Do think about talking these issues through does exist even though they are UK nationals orwith a Careers Adviser, or find a mentor who may offer permanent UK residents. If you feel that your nameanother view. might raise questions as to your nationality or visa status in the potential employers mind, be very clearDisability or poor health on your CV. However, there is no legal imperative to doBoth the social and legal climate regard discrimination this. If all or part of your educational background hasagainst disabled candidates as unacceptable. been abroad it might be wise to provide an indication ofNevertheless, many people feel that prejudice does what the approximate UK equivalent is.exist, and want to think carefully about how theypresent themselves. Work permit requiredIf your disability will not be apparent at an interview, it Current legislation makes it extremely difficult formight be best to delay informing the employer until students who come to the UK from overseas (otherthen, to avoid the chance of a prejudiced response to than nationals of countries in the European Economicyour CV. If, however, your disability will be obvious the Area) to gain a work permit after graduating.moment the employer meets you, you could discuss it Employers have to prove that they are unable to find ain your CV, naming the disability itself in laymans UK or EU national to do the job, something which isterms and stressing the way you cope in a positive almost impossible to claim in the case of most newlight. graduates without work experience. If, however, you have particular skills or expertise which the employerMental health needs (e.g. specialist scientific, business or language)Under the terms of The Disability Discrimination Act make these prominent on your CV. Also, the employer(1995) employers must not discriminate against people will want to establish your level of English languagewith mental health problems, and make reasonable skill and your cultural knowledge so do be explicitadjustments to enable them to work successfully. It is about your abilities in these areas.important to be careful about the amount ofinformation you disclose to employers; you dont have Criminal recordto mention anything in an application if you are not Check the status of your conviction in connection withasked, but, on the other hand, openness and honesty the job for which you are applying (www.crb.gov.uk). Ifearly on may reduce any confusion later. the conviction is spent you need not make reference to it on your CV. If not, it may be better to refer to theTry to present your experience in as positive way as conviction in your cover letter where you have morepossible, for example describing any time out of work space to provide details of rehabilitation. Seek advice18
  22. 22. from your Careers Adviser to help with your individualcircumstances.
  23. 23. Section 06COVER A cover letter is an application letter. It introduces you to the employer, explains why youre applying for a position with theirLETTERS company and demonstrates how your skills and interests fit the requirements for the job.The cover letter could be the first thing the employer The employers name and contact detailsreads, so its vital that you create a positive and Try to find out exactly to whom you are writing as it ispersuasive first impression. much more personal if you can direct a letter to an individual. It also means the letter is less likely to beCVs sent to employers should always be accompanied passed round a busy office.by a cover letter. The cover letter highlights andsummarizes the main points of the CV. The details in Headingyour CV should provide clear evidence for the more You dont have to use a heading, but they are often seengeneral statements you make in the letter. As with in business correspondence and it makes itCVs, cover letters should be targeted for each immediately clear as to why you are writing.individual position you apply for. This is your chance toshow the employer how interested you are in the Greetingposition, how relevant your skills are, and how much Youve done the research so you should be able toyou know about that specific company. The more pinpoint the right person here! If youre writing to aknowledgeable you are about the job and the industry woman and you dont know her title, use Ms.youre applying for, the likelier you are to stand out However, you may find that some companies arefrom the competition and be invited for an interview. becoming reluctant to disclose individuals names for security reasons: if you cant find out the name, writeHere is a basic layout for a cover letter: Dear Sir/Madam. Signature YOUR ADDRESS If you have addressed the letter to a named person, you sign off with Yours sincerely. If you have written Dear Sir/Madam, then you would use Yours faithfully.THEIR NAMETHEIR JOBCOMPANY ADDRESS SETTING OUT YOUR COVER LETTERDATE A few companies will ask for hand-written letters, butDEAR.... usually cover letters should be printed. Its best to be consistent in style with your CV - use the same font, for HEADING example. As with any business letter, the addresses and content should be neatly laid out, neither squashed TEXT up nor with big gaps. The letter should be no longer than one page of A4. If you have been asked for aYOURS SINCERELY handwritten letter, however, you may need to extend it over two pages.SIGNEDYOUR NAME WRITING STYLE As with your CV, grammar, style, clarity and fluency are extremely important. Employers will take note ofYour address spelling or grammatical errors and may screen you outIf this is different during certain dates, say so in the based on even minor mistakes, so its vital to proof-letter or the CV. read your writing thoroughly. Getting a friend or a 19
  24. 24. Careers Adviser to review your letter is also a good make up a reason you think the employer will want toidea. hear - it will sound false and theyve probably heard it before anyway. Have you done vacation or part-timeKeep your prose style simple. Dont think that long work in a similar area and enjoyed it? Have youwords and convoluted sentences are more impressive researched several careers and found this onethan short, simple statements. This isnt necessarily particularly appealing? Are there aspects of the job,the case! Everyday words and shorter sentences are such as research, writing or working with numbersusually much more effective than complicated ones. that you find particularly appealing? Perhaps yourSimilarly, long paragraphs are daunting to the eye. education and degree lead naturally into this particularSmaller paragraphs are much more appealing and kind of career: if so, you will need to point this out andinvite the reader to continue reading. Bear in mind that highlight one or two areas of relevant study that youvethe employer has many letters to read, so the simpler found particularly interesting.and more direct your prose, the better. You will also need to demonstrate why you areDont repeat your CV. Keep it short and sweet. interested in this particular company. Have you doneMake sure its clear why youre relevant for the vacation or part-time work with the company, or visited their offices? Have you met employees at recruitmentpost. Most importantly, explain why the role is of fairs and if so, what did you learn from them? Are youinterest to you! particularly attracted to certain aspects of theirMarlon Franklin, Atkins training program? Perhaps you have read something in the press about the company that particularly interested you. Again, the key is sincerity and genuine interest. Dont invent a reason, and dont simplyCONTENT regurgitate facts youve read on the companys website, though it is important to show youve doneThere is no "one way" to write a cover letter, but the some research. Treat your letter as anothercontents can broadly be broken down into four main opportunity to impress the employer by demonstratingparts. your knowledge.IntroductionA short opening paragraph introducing yourself to the I think a cover letter is far more important thanreader and explaining why you are writing. Use a CV. A CV is obviously useful, detailing facts andphrases such as: dates, but a covering note puts an applicantsI will be graduating this summer with a degree in ….. personality across and shows why he or shefrom the University of …. and enclose my CV in thinks they would be best suited to the job. Theresponse to your advertisement. applicant can also tailor the letter to fit the job in question, highlighting relevant experience.Or Lesley Wright, The IndependentI am in the second year of a degree at … College,University of … and am looking for summer vacation Selling yourselfwork. You need to give reasons why the employer should be interested in you by showing that you have the qualitiesWhy you want the job the job calls for. This section should reflect yourParagraphs 2 and 3 are at the heart of the cover letter. relevant skills, interests and past experiences. TheThis is where you say why you want the job and why information you give could relate to your workthey should look seriously at you. Read the employers experience, education, extra-curricular activities,literature and website to make sure you fully voluntary work or life experiences generally. Dont justunderstand the role youre applying for. repeat the phrases youve used in your CV. Your jobIn talking about why you want the job, you should sound here is to indicate clearly to the employer the linkkeen and enthusiastic while demonstrating that youve between your skills and the requirements of the job bydone your homework on finding out about the position. bringing the readers attention to particularly relevantGive real, convincing reasons why you want it. Dont aspects of your background.20
  25. 25. Read these three examples, which show different ways Examples b or c would carry more weight as they haveof dealing with the same information. Which one do actually got evidence backing up the claims for theyou think comes across as the strongest? skills. Example c could look a little out of place in the context of a letter, but on the other hand it does come across as quite business-like.a) I believe that I have all the ideal personalcharacteristics for this job. I am a goal-orientated Closing Paragraphachiever and have very strong interpersonal, End simply, on a polite, optimistic note:organising and leadership skills. I am good at teamwork and can also work under pressure and alone. Iam an excellent communicator who enjoys human I am available for interview at any time. Pleaseinteraction. contact me if you require any further information.b) I was captain of my college womens football team I look forward to hearing from you.in 2006 where I developed skills in leadership,organising, decision-making, managing a very lively I hope you view my application favourably and I lookgroup of people and encouraging team work. At school forward to hearing from you.I participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award:this involved community work, sports, adventure Thank you for taking the time to consider mytraining, and voluntary work, which took great application. I will be available for interview at anyperseverance, team work and self-discipline. time except for the following dates….c) You will see from my CV that I can demonstrateseveral skills, specifically:Team skills. At school and college I participated inseveral sports and plays and I enjoy working with awide variety of people and personalities.Organising. I helped to organise several charity eventsat school and at college I was the producer of a majorplay in the drama society.Communication. As an elected representative on thestaff/student liaison committee, I had to liaise withacademic staff and students, getting my points acrossduring regular forum meetings. 21

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