CV and Covering Letters

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WHAT IS A COVER LETTER

– is a letter highlighting your skills and experiences as well as pointing out why are you the most suitable candidate for the job. The most important element to highlight is that your skills match the ones required in the job description. It is basically an expansion of your CV and it is sent together with your CV.

video courtesy of ‘simpleshow foundation’ via ‘YouTube’ author: Jan Ullmann

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN COVER LETTER

Header

• your contact details (your name, e-mail, telephone number)

• contact details of the recruiting authority

Opening sentence

• information about what advertisement and post are you responding to

Body of the letter

• briefly explain why do you feel that you are the right person for the post, include your experience and your attributes and skills relevant to the post

Closing sentence

• express you eagerness and enthusiasm for the post and thank them nicely for the opportunity to attend an interview

Sign the letter with ‘Sincerely’ and your full name


Don’t forget to include your CV with the covering letter. Keep information relevant to the post you are applying to. A CV is used to offer general information whereas covering letter should be used to offer specific information relevant to the position you are applying for.


 

It is highly important to keep your letter straight and to the point

Divide your letter into sections or short paragraphs each dedicated to a particular point (what post you applying for, relevant experience, relevant attributes and skills, why are you be the best candidate for the post)

Make sure to proof read the letter as to avoid any grammatical and spelling mistakes. Let someone else read your letter prior to sending it.

 

HOW TO WRITE A CV

There is not one right template for a CV. Your CV must be relevant to the position and the industry that you are applying for. Some positions require experience whereas other posts may prefer qualifications over experience. You should always adapt your CV to the position. It may be a good idea to prepare a couple of versions of your CV. Successful CVs are concise and easy to read. Employers have to go through hundreds of CVs and do not have time to spend more than a few seconds on one CV therefore do not make it longer than two A4 pages.

video courtesy of ‘coraclefilms’ via ‘YouTube’

WHAT TO INCLUDE AND AVOID IN A CV

Divide your CV into sections to keep it organized; contact details, employment history, qualifications, other skills and interests, references.
The section other skills and interests may be omitted if it is not relevant to the position or if your CV is already too long.
Avoid long sentences; do not write sentences using ‘I’ instead use bullet points. Write in reverse chronological order (starting with your latest experience) including starting and finishing dates.
Explain any gaps in your employment history for example if travelling, studying etc. Your CV must be truthful and honest.

INCLUDE

  • Contact details:

Contact details are positioned at the top of your CV. You do not have to write the words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ in the title as it is very obvious what the document is. You can use your name as a title or preferably write a position title such as ‘SALES MANAGER’.

What you want to include is your mobile number or day time telephone number and e-mail address. You do not have to include your address as it is unlikely employer will want to contact you by post and you will save space. An employer can contact you at any time either by phone or by email therefore make yourself available and keep checking your emails regularly. If you do not reply immediately they might contact another candidate instead.

You can also include an introductory sentence which is a short summary of your reasons for applying and the reasons why you think you qualify best for the position. This should be no longer than a sentence or two.

  • Employment history

In this part describe your previous and current working experience. Summarize your responsibilities for each position and point out main skills gained. For example if you worked as a waitress instead of describing your day to day tasks, generalize the skills you have gained such as efficiency, working under pressure, quick thinking, problem solving, customer service, communication skills, money handling etc.

If you have had quite a few jobs of similar nature then you can combine them together to keep it concise. For example if you have worked in several shops as a shop assistant you should put that experience under one heading called retail. If you only ever had summer jobs still include those but add skills learnt. Even if you do not have an experience in the field you are applying for, show that you have gained skills that are transferable. Use key words that will catch a potential employer’s attention. It is always good to point out that you can be independent but also a good team player as many jobs require both skills, however make sure you use a specific example to demonstrate this. Do not just name your skills without backing them up with specific examples. Do not mention reasons for ending employment or your salary. Only include the last 10 years of your employments history unless you think it is significant and beneficial to mention anything beyond the ten years.

  • Qualifications

Include your qualifications with dates in reverse chronological order (the latest comes first). You do not have to include grades, however if your grades stand out then do include them. If you have a university degree, your primary and high school qualifications are not important to mention, however if you only have high school qualifications then describe what subjects etc.
The depth of your qualification depends on the position. It may be highly important in some positions but it may be less important in others.

  • Volunteering

It is always a good thing to have some form of a volunteering experience. It shows your willingness to learn and your determination to gain new skills.

  • Other skills and interests

Among skills you may include languages, driving licence, I.T. literacy, typing, and any short courses or any extra certificates or training you have undergone.
Some employers also like to see what you like doing in your spare time for example if you like doing sport that shows determination, dedication, strong will, being a team player if doing a team sport. If you do not have any relevant skills or interests leave this section out. It is always better not to include it than write irrelevant information.

  • References

It is generally expected to include contact details of two people that are able to confirm your experience mentioned in the CV. These two people should be either your former employer, your teacher, someone for whom you volunteered. Usually, you will be expected to have one academic reference and one working reference. Name, position and some contact details of the referees need to be included. Do not include your friends or family members as your referees.
If you are new to the country you can include details of someone from your country and their email address so they could be contacted if needed.
Another option is to write “References available on request” and only provide them if your employer specifically asks for them.

  • Legal restrictions

Include whether you have a work permit or any legal restrictions regarding your working hours for example “only available to work 20 hours per week

AVOID

  • You do not have to include your date of birth; neither do you have to describe your marital status, sexuality, race, ethnicity, nationality or religion. Employers in the UK cannot discriminate on grounds of age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion disability.
  • Do not write your reasons for leaving your previous employment
  • Do not mention your previous salary
  • Do not include information that is irrelevant
  • Be careful what you include in your ‘interests’ as clubbing and drinking certainly will not impress any employer
  • Don’t be repetitive
  • Do not go into details keep it punchy and easy to read
  • Do not write your CV as an essay no one will take the time out to read it unless you are the only person applying for the position which is highly unlikely
  • Do not send your CV with grammatical, spelling mistakes or bad formatting always get someone to proof read it for you before you save a copy.

HOW TO FORMAT A CV

  • It is expected to have a typed CV not handwritten. If you do not have a computer or a printer available, you can always visit your local library and use a computer and a printer there.
  • Your CV should be no longer than two A4 pages
  • Do not print on both sides of the paper
  • Use headings for your paragraphs such as ‘EMPLOYMENT HISTORY’ as this makes it easier to navigate around your CV and easier to find information
  • Bullet points are preferable to long sentences
  • Avoid text that is too small or too big and do not use unconventional font ; the most common is ‘Arial’ or ‘Times New Roman’ size 11 or 12
  • Use 1,15 or 1,5 line spacing depending on the volume of your content.
  • Make it as concise and as easy to read as possible

WHERE TO DOWNLOAD CV TEMPLATES?

For free downloads of various templates you can use Microsoft Word on your computer.
Open Microsoft Word
Then click:
File
New
Resumes and CVs
This will open various CV and resume templates which are available to download and save in your files. Simply follow the template and fill in your details. You can write your cover letter using the same program as well as your thank you note. If you are looking for a specific template then after you click ‘New’ you will see the preview of the templates and a small search box will also open where you can type in what you are looking for e.g. ‘cover letter’.

INTERVIEW

If you’re applying for a position in customer service or sales, the initial telephone call may already be part of the interview. Anticipate questions and prepare your answers. You are most probably going to be asked to explain your reasons for applying for the position, why do you think that you are a suitable candidate and probably swiftly describe your experience relevant to the position. Practice your answers out loud this will give you the chance to look up words and phrases you may need to express yourself which will also be helpful for the interview.
When you receive a phone call it is also a good opportunity to ask a few questions regarding the position. In fact, you should prepare at least couple of questions to ask as it may be expected. Do not ask about the salary or holidays you will get a chance to ask more specific questions during interview.

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