Writing a CV
A CV is a self-presentation tool. In your job search, the CV is your face, your voice, your stature – or at least until you get invited to an interview.
As in a lot of other social situations, sometimes the way you convey information is more critical than the information itself. Also, the addressee is important. You would not want to end up communicating with a VP of a large corporation the same way you interact with a young entrepreneur looking to add up to his start-up team.
The key to making an impact when you are sending out an application is to customize it as much as possible to the job for which you are applying.
Presentation of a CV
- Avoid too many different fonts. Italics, decorative fonts, ornate borders, etc., are not a good choice – you want to be noticed for what you say, not how you present it.
- Try to keep your CV to no more than two pages. Place your name right at the top of the front page, with your contact details directly underneath.
- Have a clear structure. It should always be easy to read and to understand.
- Your goal is to present facts about yourself concisely and with clarity.
- Use bullet points rather than complete sentences.
- List your work experience starting from your current role.
- If your educational background is more relevant, start with it-university degree should come before your high school information.
- Never leave significant time gaps. If you took a gap year, or carried out interim assignments, say so. Do not hesitate to include the information, even if the time was dedicated to your family or leisure time interests.
- Leave your hobbies and interests until last – and keep it short.
Double-check and proof-read
- Double-check and proofread your content very carefully!
- Always run a spell check over it. Re-read to ensure accuracy; ask a friend to read it for you.
- Your CV is the first impression your potential employer will have of you. Take the time to get it right – you may not have a second chance.
A cover letter is the first thing a recruiter will see, so it is essential that a CV is introduced in the best way possible. It is also a nice way to inform about details which cannot be clearly outlined in a CV. Here are some basic rules, although there are no uniform guidelines.
Explain why you are writing. If you’re replying to an advert, say where and when you saw the advert and if there is a reference number, quote it.
Briefly explain your related experience and qualifications (professional/academic), addressing their relevance to the job and company you are applying for.
Say why you would be a good employee. Tell the company a little about themselves (e.g. “As the largest publishing company in the North West…”), to demonstrate your knowledge.
Lay down an action plan; say you would like the opportunity to meet them for an interview and that their feedback means a lot to you.
Use of email
Generally, the same rules as above apply, but there are three things to remember when you apply by email:
- Make sure your letter is written in a common font with standard formatting and punctuation.
- Once it is sent to another computer, the whole presentation of the document may change, so the content has to be especially good.
- If your cover letter is written in the email body (as opposed to an attachment), make sure you apply the same formalities as you would in a hand-written letter, and perform a spell check before sending.
- Do remember to attach your CV to the email!
Do’s and Don’t's
- Make sure that your spelling, punctuation and formatting are flawless.
- Make your letter bespoke, customized to the employer. Anyone can download a standard cover letter, but personalization shows that you’ve put in the effort.
- Pick out specific traits or skills mentioned in the job advert and demonstrate why you think your profile is a good match
- Do not write too much. Your letter should be succinct and to the point; there is no reason to duplicate the details shown in your CV.
- Never use complicated phrases or words just to impress; if you’re using words you wouldn’t usually use, then don’t bother. Similarly, don’t get someone else to write the letter for you.