CV & Cover Letter Tips

CV Tips

The purpose of the CV is to get the candidate to the interview stage. To achieve this first target the CV should be sharply focused and designed to grab the employer's attention. Therefore a 'one-size-fits-all' CV will not make as much impact as one which has been tailored on the requirements of a specific job.

The recruitment process will involve the evaluation of a candidate profile versus a job description by an employer. We recommend candidates to carry out this analysis themselves as it will enable them to match their skills and achievements to the ones that employers are looking for while looking for staff. This will improve candidate’s ability to tailor their CV, covering letter and interview preparations with more precision resulting on higher chance to get the job of their dream.

Step 1 - Research

Candidates should begin by studying the job advertisement to determine exactly what your prospective employer requires. The job description will give a summary of the purposes of the job and the duties involved. The employee specification will identify the knowledge, skills and competencies required of an ideal jobseeker.

Candidates should not forget their task is to convince the employer that they meet the job requirements. It is extremely important to research the company or organisation that you are applying to. Relevant information is usually obtainable from their promotional literature, annual reports and website. Internet search engines can be a particularly fruitful resource.

Step 2 -  CV Compilation

Having determined what the employer wants and assessed what you've got to offer, it's time to compile your CV. You must decide whether to send an e-mail or a hard-copy version, or both.

  • Tailor your CV to address the employer's needs.
  • Prioritise and highlight skills and accomplishments matching employer's expectations.
  • Use words from the job add and highlight skills/experience specifically requested.
  • Make sure to record all your relevant qualifications and experience. 
  • Make statements about your skills and achievements and back them up with hard evidence.
  • Give examples of problems you may have faced and actions taken and results you obtained.
  • Highlight company benefits from employing you such as improved productivity, customer relations, etc.
  • Quantify, personalise and be specific in your descriptions by using job titles or skill headings that match the job you are applying for.
  • Be positive and forward looking using past accomplishments as an indicator of future results.
  • Concentrate on how your prospective employer will benefit from your skills and experience.

Since your CV will be competing with plenty of others therefore visual layout is very important:

  • It should be carefully structured, uncluttered and easy to scan for employer.
  • Use headings, section breaks, white space, bullet points to break the text.
  • Check for spelling, grammar and typographical errors.
  • Ideally it should be no longer than two A4 sheets

Step 3 - Check list:

1) CV's -  Internet friendly

The basic CV has not changed for a very long time but now thanks to the internet the CV is undergoing a metamorphosis. Smart job seekers are changing their CV's to maximise their success in finding suitable positions through the web. Computers and database search engines use different criteria than a personnel manager when initially identifying potential jobseekers. Most sites have 24-hour access so CV's put on the Net are constantly active and working for you.

2) Formatting - Very important

Switch off the fancy italics and bold face - databases cannot understand them and scanners tend to scramble them. Like everything associated with modern technology, usage of the Net as a recruitment tool is accelerating very quickly. For those of you who want to be well ahead of the game how about attaching a short video attachment to an online resume and smile sweetly at your future employer before you have met them?

3) Profile section - Highly necessary

For practically all types of jobseeker a profile section is a very good idea: it gives a brief introduction about you and your background, and gives you an excellent opportunity to sell your application. Include the most relevant and standout facts about you which match you to the job being advertised. Write one or two sentences that summarise your experience, skills, and perhaps a standout achievement. To be concise, merge your personal statement with your skill areas to make your profile even more striking.

4) Work experience - Vital for graduate applications.

In a graduate CV you should be able to demonstrate your excellent academic credentials along with some work experience/internships/voluntary engagements you may have undertaken parallel to your degree. Work experience is becoming more and more important for employers when they screen potential candidates for graduate full-time positions.

5) Key words - Essential for competency-based CVs.

Key words are essential today, if only to get past the software scans. Don't spam your CV though by repeating tracts from the advert unnecessarily – you'll be rejected before anyone's even read your application. Examples are always good – try to show a good story about why you're doing this line of work, why this job is the next step for you. Add information which supports your assessment of the key competencies required for that role.

7) Your job search – Strategic Planning & Structure

Create a spreadsheet, start with industries you're interested in, then take each industry individually, and identify employers within the sector. Use job sites to build a list of target companies, and start finding out who you need to talk to in each. Methodically send your CV, tailoring it and your cover letter to the role (or company if it's a speculative application). It will take time and commitment, but it will help you structure your job seeking campaign.

Cover Letter Tips

The cover letter is your opportunity to highlight and expand upon the skills and accomplishments detailed in your CV. You should use it to differentiate yourself from other applicants and to emphasise the specific benefits you can offer your prospective employer.

  • Identify yourself. Specify what job you are applying for. State when and where the advertisement appeared.
  • Refer to your CV and briefly indicate how your skills, experience and qualifications meet the employer's expressed requirements. Highlight aspects of your CV which make you suitable for the job. Stress your unique selling points.
  • Say why you want to join the organisation and do that particular job. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Show that you are enthusiastic and highly motivated.
  • Restate your interest and summarise your suitability. Say when you will be available for an interview. End your letter on a polite note - remember to say 'Thank you'.
  • Before you send your cover letter read it thoroughly and pay careful attention to punctuation, grammar and spelling - these factors are extremely important in ensuring your application is viewed positively.

Write something about you in the body of the email and attach the cover letter.

The email is the first impression that you will give a recruiter. Therefore, you are going to need to give some information about yourself and why you're right for the role. Too many times recruiters see the comment: "I am applying for X role and attach my covering letter and CV". Recruiters would like to see something about the candidates in the email.

And also, they would like to see a cover letter attached to the email as well. Emails tend to be having little value compared with a letter. So why not include a cover letter as well that goes into more detail than the email!

 

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