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A covering letter should always be sent with a CV unless speciﬁed. It should immediately capture the reader’s attention. A covering letter allows you to elaborate on certain key parts of your CV, highlighting a signiﬁcant skill or achievement. It can also allow you to provide more information on any gaps in your work history or education. It is often the ﬁrst thing an employer will read, so be sure to create the right impression.
A standard covering letter should include the following:
Why you are writing to the employer: is it in response to an advert or is this a speculative enquiry?
What you can oﬀer the employer and why you are suitable for the role: always highlight your skills which meet the job speciﬁcation.
Why you are interested in working for the organisation: demonstrate that you understand what they do and that you have carried out your research.
Let them know when you are available for an interview. Thank the employer for their time in considering your CV and letter, and state that you look forward to hearing from them.
When putting together a covering letter do not forget to:
Try to use just one side of A4 unlined paper.
Ensure your letter is laid out correctly, checking for spelling and grammar.
Always write a new covering letter for each position you apply for. Do not send out a generic letter.
Always try to address the letter to a named contact within the organisation. If this is a speculative application then do some research to ﬁnd out whom to direct your CV? An advertised vacancy should have a name on the job advert.
A CV provides a summary of your skills, qualiﬁcations, education and work experience. It is a document to represent you and your achievements in the best possible light. A CV should always be a working document, and you should regularly review it as you increase your skills and experience.
What should a CV contain?
Personal details: Name, address, email, telephone number(s). You do not need to include your date of birth.
Proﬁle: Concise and focused statement which can increase the impact of your CV, and can help to establish a strong, positive tone to ﬂavour the rest of the document.
Education and qualiﬁcations: University education with key modules and grades, A Level subjects and grades and number of GCSEs.
Skills: Key skills linked to the role for which you are applying plus additional skills such as IT, language skills etc.
Work Experience: Paid and voluntary.
Interests: Hobbies, sports, clubs, societies, travel etc. You should only include details of these if they are relevant to the role being applied for.
References: Always try to include an academic reference and one from a previous employer. Never use a relative.
Most graduate CVs fall into one of two categories:
Traditional (Chronological) CV: This is a useful type of CV to employ if your work history and education have been consistent, and if you want to continue to be employed in the same career ﬁeld. Work experience and education is positioned in reverse chronological order, making it easy to extract information from the document.
Skills-Based CV: This type of CV places the emphasis on the skills you have acquired. It can be particularly useful if there are any gaps in your employment history or if you are applying for work where you have little direct experience. With this CV you can demonstrate how the skills you have gained elsewhere could be transferred to another career.
Always adapt your CV for each job.
Use a maximum of 2 sides of A4 paper unless applying for academic posts.
Always check your spelling and grammar before sending.
Be thorough and honest about your experiences.
Use action words when describing your experiences, as they can add a positive tone.
Provide evidence against the skills you are listing.
Try and ensure your CV is focused on results, achievements and accomplishments – elements that are quantiﬁable.
Do not write anything negative about yourself l Ensure the layout of your CV is attractive and easy to follow – use reverse chronology, starting with your most recent experiences.
Never send a CV without a covering letter.
Finally: After you have chosen which type of CV would best suit your needs, it is important to remember that every time you use your CV it will need to be altered to target the particular job being applied for. This may mean moving sections, or parts of sections, around to reprioritise information, adding sections in, or even rewriting some of the content.