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CVs and Cover Letters

A great CV  and covering letter can make all the difference when it comes to securing a job.

Traditionally the first step in the application process, it allows employers to short-list potential candidates for interview. So it needs to be right.

Your first step here on Gradsouthwest should be to build your online CV. This will get you in front of recruiters and you can also use it to apply for jobs. Spend some time getting it tickety boo. Time invested now will pay off.

When you apply via Gradsouthwest, you'll need to add a covering letter - this is a great opportunity to tailor your skills and experience to the job so make the most of it.

When you're apply for jobs, remember.... the person specification describes the recruiters ideal candidate. If you meet most of the criteria, are enthusiastic and can demonstrate that you're quick to learn, YOU SHOULD APPLY. Competition for graduate jobs isn't as fierce as you might think so don't be put off.

CV Content

  • Personal Details
    Include your name and contact information, including an email address. Make sure the contact information is up to date and that you check it regularly.
  • Work History
    List your experience, most recent first, and include the job title, organisation, dates employed and your responsibilities, achievements and skills gained that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Education and Qualifications
    Again, starting with the most recent first, list the qualification gained and state the name of the school/college/university. You can cluster qualifications together, e.g. 10 GCSEs Grade A*-C, but make sure you highlight any requirements of the job. Add skills-based qualifications and courses completed too.
  • Skills
    Include here details of skills relevant to the job you are applying for, e.g. ICT skills, language competency, and don't forget to include evidence.
  • Hobbies / Interests
    Only include this section if it adds to the skills that the job requires, e.g. demonstrates team work or creativity.
  • References
    You don't have to add references as standard but if you are asked to, add them to your CV or covering letter. Check with your referee before listing him or her.

CV Top Tips

  • Be specific.
    Create a basic CV which you can tweak and tailor to the job you are applying for. Take a look at the job description and person specification and use your CV to highlight how you can meet the requirements.
  • Keep it simple.
    CVs are a summary and should not provide too much detail. Stay under 2 pages and don't use fancy gimmicks unless you are applying for a creative job which requires you to show a little more imagination.
  • Make it readable.
    Choose a font that is clear and keep it a good size and make sure there is plenty of 'white space' on the page. Keep your language appropriate - this is not the time for text talk or lots of exclamation marks.
  • Be truthful.
    Cast yourself in the best light but keep it honest. Not just because it's the right thing to do but if you need to lie to apply, you aren't suited to the role and it's not going to end well.

Covering Letter Content

  • Reference the job you are applying for and any reference number plus where you saw it advertised.
  • Explain why you are applying and why you are interested in the role and the organisation. Be enthusiastic!
  • Outline why you consider yourself suitable and evidence with examples. Anyone can say "I'm amazing at teamwork" so give an example to back it up. Summarise why you think you are right for the role and a few sentences to summarise the knowledge, skills and experience that makes you such a good match.
  • Conclude with a positive statement of intent, e.g. "I look forward to hearing from you." or "I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my application with you further." and thank the recruiter for considering your application.

Covering Letter Top Tips

  • Address the letter to the right person! If you don't know who it is, find out.
  • Write in a business format, stick to 1 side of A4 and make it readable (see CV Top Tips!)
  • Don't repeat your CV - this is an opportunity to give extra information - so use it as your sales pitch to persuade the employer you are worth an interview.

Good luck and remember, recruiters are looking for the best fit so if you meet most of the criteria, are enthusiastic and can demonstrate that you're quick to learn, you should apply!