How to write a CV and cover letter sample

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Published Date:04-07-2017
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How to write CVs and cover letters Welcome 1 Before you start 2 How LSE Careers can help 3 Layout and design 4 Personal details 8 Education 10 Work experience 12 Achievements, interests and additional skills 14 References 16 CV checklist 18 Cover letters 20 Further resources 25 BWelcome Welcome to How to write CVs and cover letters. We have structured this guide around some of the most common questions that our careers consultants are asked by LSE students. This isn’t the definitive guide to CVs and cover letters as every application is individual. You will always have choices about the emphasis you give certain parts of your life, the way you write and the design you use. Because of this we have tried to make our guide as general as possible. All our examples and advice relate to writing CVs and cover letters for jobs in the UK. If you need advice about writing a specialised kind of CV (like a CV for academia or a very creative position), or would like support applying for roles outside the UK, then you might like to consult our website or seek some one-to-one advice from a careers consultant. Don’t forget that LSE Careers offers CV and cover letter seminars throughout the year and CV and cover letter discussions where you can have your application individually reviewed. Just go the careers website for up to date information: Jenny Blakesley Director, LSE Careers 1Before you start My spelling and grammar aren’t very good, Basic principles what can I do? Relevance Always use the spell check on your computer (but remember it’s not Curriculum vitae means “story of your life”. However, with only one or fool-proof) and make sure that it is set to UK English. If English isn’t two pages for your CV you can’t afford to treat this literally. Be selective your first language, you may find it useful to ask a native English- about what you include. Always ask yourself the question “Is this going to speaking friend to read what you have written. The Language Centre be relevant to the employer who is reading this?” If it isn’t, then discard it. can also help you with spelling and grammar but please note there is a cost attached to some services. Tailoring Gaps in your CV Your CV needs to match the particular job you are applying for. For example, if the job requires skills in teamwork and creativity, you need Employers can be suspicious about extensive periods of unexplained to ensure the employer can clearly see that you have gained these skills time on a CV and as a general rule, it is always best to explain these somewhere in your life. Maybe you worked in a team on a course project gaps. Obviously, you don’t need to account for every week or even or perhaps you had a creative idea for an event which a society organised. every month, but if, for example, you took a year between school and The important thing is that the employer can see that your CV is tailored university to go travelling, it is best to account for it and mention it on to them and not a generic CV that is being sent to every employer. your CV. However if there are very personal or sensitive reasons which prevented you being in work or study (including things like criminal Layout and design convictions, long periods of illness and caring for family members) then you do not have to declare these on your CV. You should, however, be You can influence where the employer looks on your CV by the amount prepared to talk about any gaps in your CV at interview. of space you allocate to certain sections. For example, in your education section for most circumstances you’ll want to draw employers to your LSE There is a balance between explaining everything that has happened degree. You can do this by giving it more space than any other courses or and deciding what information is strictly relevant to an employer. degrees you have done. You should also think carefully about your choice If you are unsure about your situation then come in and see a of headings to highlight key experience. careers consultant. Language Truthfulness Using positive, action oriented words creates the impression of a positive, As well as it being against the law to lie on your CV, you should be proactive person. Use words such as “achieved”, “created” and “organised” willing to talk about anything on your CV at interview, even details in and avoid tentative words such as “maybe”, “attempted” and “perhaps”. The your interests and extra-curricular activities sections. You don’t know aim is to make your CV as persuasive as possible. Present information in the what kinds of things your interviewer might also be interested in or most positive light but remember there is a clear distinction between doing have knowledge about so make sure they can’t expose anything that this and exaggerating. Make sure your spelling and grammar is accurate. The isn’t completely accurate. LSE Language Centre runs excellent English language courses. Contact details and further information can be found at 2How LSE Careers can help Research What is the difference between a résumé It’s important to do as much research as you can before applying for a and a CV? job. The LSE Careers website – – contains information on different employment sectors, ways of planning your career and If you see an advert asking for a résumé it’s likely that they marketing your skills. You will also find a range of reference material have in mind a one-page document with a number of design in the LSE Careers Resource Centre. features such as narrower margins and a smaller font size in order to create more space. In terms of content, a résumé CV and cover letter seminars usually covers the same areas as a CV, but with less space to go into detail. See page 7 for an example. Our careers consultants run regular seminars during term-time which are full of advice on how to construct CVs and cover letters and how you can best market yourself to prospective employers. There are also “I found LSE Careers very useful when it came to specialist seminars focusing on specific sectors, such as writing CVs for understanding the structure of a UK style CV.” academia or finance, as well as basic and advanced seminars which cover different stages of careers – from recent graduates to experienced LSE student hires. You can use LSE CareerHub to search for and book seminars at Academic CVs CV and cover letter feedback These are different in several respects from other CVs. We have a dedicated team of CV and cover letter advisors who will For example, they do not have the same length restrictions go through these documents with you in one-to-one appointments. and are expected to contain more detail about your academic Appointments are 15 minutes long during October and 20 minutes achievements. For more information, look at the PhD section the rest of the year and can be booked on LSE CareerHub. Morning of the LSE Careers website. Our careers consultant for PhD appointments can be booked from 9.30am the day before you’d like students runs lunchtime seminars on writing academic CVs and the appointment. If you’d like an afternoon appointment, this can be applying for jobs in and outside academia. You can use LSE booked from 9.30am on the same day. Before booking an appointment, CareerHub to book on to these seminars as well as one-to-one work your way through this booklet and our online resources to make PhD/Postdoctorate appointments at sure you are prepared to discuss your CV. 3Layout and design 1 How long should a CV be? 3 Should I use a CV template? In almost all cases your CV should be no longer than two sides of A4. We advise you not to because a CV is a personal document and should The exception to this is an academic CV, which will usually have an extra be unique to you. page about publications and conferences. A minority of organisations will expect a one-page CV, but for most a two-page CV is acceptable 4 Should I use different colours on my CV? unless otherwise specified. No - black ink on white paper is standard. Using more exciting colours will certainly make you stand out, but perhaps not in a positive way 2 What is the difference between a “skills unless you’re applying for a creative or design role. based” CV and a “chronological” CV? In most cases you’ll use a chronological CV, which has standard sections 5 What font should I use? such as education and work experience. Your achievements in each Avoid unusual fonts; they have the effect of making the reader focus on section will be ordered in reverse chronology (ie, most recent first). the font rather than the content. Sans serif fonts, like Arial, can make However, there may be occasions where you start off with a section on your CV look clean, neat and most importantly readable. Use a font size the skills you have gained, with examples of where you gained them; between 10 and 12. this is a “skills based” CV. It’s most commonly used when you have significant relevant experience or an existing career and are looking to 6 Should I use bullet points or text? change direction and need to emphasise skills that are transferable. There are no rules about this but try to avoid a CV that is too “text heavy”. Some of the most effective CVs use a combination of text “It’ s important to be clear and concise to make it as easy as and bullet points. Experiment and see what looks clearest, what is possible for the recruiter to be drawn to the key information, most easy to read and what has the most impact visually. so don’t include big chunks of writing. Also, use the space wisely and really consider the formatting and layout; for example use bold or capital headings to break up the information.” Cancer Research UK 47 Should I send my CV as a Word document Did you know? or a PDF? Top reasons employers give for unsuccessful applications Whilst either format is almost always accepted by employers, it is include: poor spelling and grammar, not answering the generally recommended to send a PDF version if possible. A PDF will look question asked, not following instructions, lack of research the same on any computer, whereas sometimes a Word document might on the organisation and not practising for tests that are look different (overflowing to three pages for example) depending on part of the application process. the version of Word the recruiter has. 8 Are there any good examples of CVs I can use? There are a number of example CVs on the LSE Careers website. Top tips: format, font and space However, it is never a good idea to just copy one exactly. The amount of space given to a section reflects the amount of Your information is unique and to present it in the most favourable importance you attach to it. Decide on a format for headings light you will need to make changes to any example you find. and body and stick to it. Fonts like Arial and Calibri are recommended as they are clear 9 Should I attach my CV if I’m completing an and simple. If you use something different, make sure you’re online application form? consistent and the font doesn’t detract attention from your Only if specifically asked to do so. content. It’s also important to remember that some fonts take up more space on a page than others. 10 I have previous work experience. Should Print out your CV to see what it looks like in reality. Is there I present my CV differently? a lot of white space or too much text? Are the margins too The same basic principles apply, for example giving your most relevant large or small? Your CV could be read in as little as 8 seconds. information highest priority on your CV. However, you may want to Make sure it’s immediately appealing to the eye. consider different CV formats to best present your skills. Even though you have more experience, your CV still needs to be on a maximum of two pages, so you may have more editing to do. 5First page of a typical two-page CV Clear headings Dates all in the same place Sections clearly differentiated Plenty of white space creates uncluttered design Good use of bullet points and space to emphasise key skills and responsibilities 6Example of a single page CV (sometimes called a “résumé”) Smaller margins than two-page CV Very concise information Very clearly defined sections Less white space on a single sided CV Combines sections which might be separate on a two-page CV eg, “Awards” and “Interests” 7Personal details Large clear name. No need to write “curriculum vitae” Include your anywhere LinkedIn profile or any personal websites or blogs if you feel they are relevant and you Up to date want an employer contact details to see them 1 Should I include my home address and my 3 Should I attach or scan a photo of myself? LSE address? You should not be asked for a photo in the UK. Read an employer’s application advice carefully and use resources like “Going Global”, which It’s helpful to do this if you are spending long periods away from your LSE LSE Careers subscribes to, to research the recruitment norms of different address and an employer will be contacting you during this time. Tell the countries. Going Global can be accessed through the LSE Careers employer the dates when you are at each address so they know which website under “Exclusive resources”. one to use. 4 Do I need to mention my gender and age? 2 Should I include a career profile/objective? No. It is entirely optional whether you include this information. It is A career profile (or career objective) is a short statement, usually at the often deducible from other information (like your name and the date of top of your CV, saying something about you and your career aims. For your qualifications). It is illegal for employers to ask you to declare your new graduates or postgraduates, career profiles are not really necessary age and also illegal, except in certain rare situations, for employers to as this content will be addressed in your cover letter. Profiles can run the discriminate on grounds of gender. risk of sounding clichéd. If all you have to say is, “Current student with an MSc Social Anthropology with good communication skills, excellent team work skills and ability to work independently, now seeking job in finance”, then the space would be better used to display significant facts about your education and experience. Profiles can be a useful addition to a CV if you have some very specific experience and you are very clear about the particular career area you are going for. Profiles can also be useful if you are asked to send a CV without a cover letter. If you are changing career they can help you to state briefly your previous area of experience and what you’re aiming for now. 85 Do I need to mention my nationality and 6 How do I talk about disability? work permit status? LSE Careers offers tailored services for disabled students including a dedicated careers consultant specialising in disability and employment, and There may be cases where an employer is interested in knowing your longer, flexible appointments available to accommodate individual needs. nationality in order to find out whether they will need to apply for a work permit for you. However unless they ask you to state your nationality on You can visit us or email for advice on your CV or application form there is no requirement for you to do so at recruitment processes, disclosure, reasonable adjustments to recruitment this stage. You can also wait to raise the subject at interview stage as this processes and the workplace environment, legal issues and other will allow you to “sell” yourself in person before discussing the possibility disability careers issues. of a work permit. Whether or not you disclose your disability is a very personal choice. We If any other information on your CV suggests that you may need a work have further information for students with disabilities on the LSE Careers permit and this is not the case, ensure that you state your nationality or website ( and you can visit that you have permission to work in the UK. disabilities/work for details about employment rights. For information and advice on visa and work permits please contact the For advice on disability issues during your time at University visit the International Student Immigration Service (ISIS) or read the information Disability and Well-being Service, email or call on their website 020 7955 7707. 9Amit Chopra 19 Disraeli Court, (+44)123456789 Education 23 Tudor Street, a. London, SW19 4AL EDUCATION Picks out a relevant module BSc. Government and Economics 10/2013 – 06/2016 Gives London School of Economics and Political Science, UK to explain expected  Expected Grade: First Class (Honours)  Dissertation researched the changes to economic public policy and the extent result to which the changes were affected by outside influences/institutions from a political science perspective Singapore GCE ‘A’ Levels 01/2011 – 12/2012 National Junior College, Singapore  9 As including further mathematics, physics and chemistry  Three distinctions for special papers in mathematics, physics and chemistry  Highest grades in Singapore Explains non-UK Indian Class 10th 02/1998 – 12/2010 qualification Delhi Public School, R.K.Puram, New Delhi, India  93.2% overall including mathematics, English, science and social sciences  Results in top 2% of year (out of 300 students) WORK EXPERIENCE Intern, National Policy on SMEs department 07/2014 – 09/2014 Ministry for Trade and Industry, Singapore  Developed a revised long-term strategy as part of a team, including deciding 1 What part of my education should I give 2 Do I have to list all my qualifications on which industry sectors and functional areas to focus development efforts most prominence? and modules?  Researched and presented results to the team on establishing comparative international benchmarks for Singaporean agencies in the SME sector You should give most prominence to the part of your education that is Unless the employer specifically asks you to, you do not have to list every most relevant to the job you are applying for. Usually, this is your most qualification and module but you should remember to include all those Spring Intern, International Team on European Equities 04/2014 – 04/2014 recent education but do not be afraid to emphasise an earlier quali Goldman Sachs, London fication that are relevant to the application you are making.  Presented research findings (compiled as part of a team) regarding the if it is more relevant. This may include specific modules or projects. Try to be selective. Listing your A levels is fine but try to summarise your equities of a European client, to the client and senior bosses GCSE grades. For example write “10 GCSEs including Maths and English, Customer Assistant 04/2013 – 06/2013 all at grades A to B”. Don’t overlook the importance of group projects, Paris Gourmand, Singapore research and dissertations.  Supervised café and team of assistants in day to day running of the business  Managed time to ensure efficient but good customer service Remember that the person reading the CV will be experienced in spotting gaps in the information you do give. If you do not give grades or a Volunteer Mentor 02/2013 – 04/2013 Singapore Indian Development Association complete record of the exams you have taken, expect to be asked about  Managed the programme which coordinates volunteers and these at interview. mentees and recruits more mentors, as part of a team  Mentored three children from disadvantaged households, encouraging them to stay in education  Organised mentor programme through administrative duties 103 Some of my qualifications are non-UK. 6 Should I mention awards and scholarships? How do I translate them into UK ones? Use these to impress the reader with your good academic track record. It’s not possible to directly translate them as educational systems vary If you have many, going back to your time at school, it may be best to widely and a grade or degree classification can mean quite different things select just a few of the most prestigious or most recent, so that these from country to country. The best way to approach this is to explain your stand out. For each one you give, say what the award or scholarship qualification so that the reader understands its significance. You can use was for, what you were awarded eg, a prize or bursary, what proportion phrases such as, “equivalent to top five per cent of year”, or “highest of people received an award in your year and any other details that possible grade”. GPAs and percentages will normally be recognised. quantify the achievement. For more information look at the NARIC website ( There is “ In order to direct your potential employer to the most a telephone number you can call if you want to speak to a specialist prominent and relevant elements of your course it can about comparing qualifications. If you are unsure about anything, contact sometimes help to include a little background information the organisation you are applying to directly. on your degree. If you’re stuck for ideas, why not have a quick browse through your university prospectus to find a 4 Do I need to give the full addresses of the course summary that highlights nicely the most pertinent places I have studied? parts of your chosen area of study and pick out the most No, giving the city is enough; for example, “Sciences-Po, Paris”. relevant bits?” You can add the country if you feel the city is not very well known. Laura-Jane Silverman, LSE Careers Consultant 5 How should I present predicted grades? In most situations this is more important for undergraduates than Qualifications aren’t everything postgraduates as many employers specify a certain class of degree as an entry requirement. First of all consult your tutor to find out what they Many employers rate experience, intelligence and think your final result will be. If you can’t do that then make a realistic aptitude above qualifications when considering estimate yourself based on your previous years’ grades. It is normal to use candidates and applications. a phrase such as “expected result 2:1”. For postgraduates, it’s of much less importance. 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r ec ec ec ec ec r r r rui ui ui ui rui tttts s s st m m m m s m or or or or or e m e m e m e m e m ent ent ent ent ent or or or or or s s s s,,,,s as as as as , as par par par par par tttt of of of of t of a t a t a t a t a t eam eam eam eam eam   M M M MM ent ent ent ent ent or or or or or ed ed ed ed ed tttthr hr hr hr thr ee ee ee ee ee c c c chi hi hi hi chi lllldr dr dr dr ldr en en en en en ffffr r r r om fom om om rom di di di di di s s s sadv adv adv adv sadv ant ant ant ant ant aged hous aged hous aged hous aged hous aged hous ehol ehol ehol ehol ehol ds ds ds ds ds ,,,, enc enc enc enc , enc our our our our our agi agi agi agi agi ng ng ng ng ng tttthem hem hem hem them t t t to s o s o s o s to s ttttay ay ay ay tay i i i in educ n educ n educ n educ in educ at at at atat iiiion on on on ion   O O OO r r rgani gani gani rgani s s sed m ed m ed m sed m ent ent ent ent or or or or pr pr pr pr ogr ogr ogr ogr am am am am m m mm e t e t e t e t hr hr hr hr ough adm ough adm ough adm ough adm iiini ni ni ini s s sttts r r rat tat at rat iiive dut ve dut ve dut ive dut iiies es es ies  Organised mentor programme through administrative duties 1 I have different experience from different 2 What counts as “work experience”? sectors, gained at different points in my life. Don’t just think of “work experience” as referring to full-time How do I deal with that on my CV? positions and internships – voluntary/unpaid work, part-time jobs and entrepreneurial activities can be of equal value. Employers are really One option is to list the experience in reverse chronological order. interested in the skills that you have developed which are transferable However it might be more effective if you grouped or “themed” your to another position. It is your job to decide how relevant that experience experiences. So, instead of a general heading called “Work Experience”, is to your application and to group and prioritise your experience you could have two or more headings such as, “Legal Experience”, accordingly to highlight this. Your experience working in a part-time “Banking Experience”; or alternatively “Relevant Experience” and or voluntary capacity may also be directly relevant to the position. “Additional Experience”. 12“ Make your headings work for you. You can use them to Importance of voluntary experience subdivide your work experience so that you can collect As well as enabling you to make an impact in society, getting together the most relevant experience in one section. involved in volunteering is an opportunity to develop new and Then put that section in a prominent place on your CV. For existing skills, meet new people, improve your confidence, give example if you are applying for a consultancy job and you your CV a boost and more. The LSE Volunteer Centre advertises have a mixture of consultancy and other work experience, a range of volunteer opportunities on LSE CareerHub and create a section called ‘Consultancy work’ for your first page you can book one-to-one discussions for advice on finding a and another called ‘Work experience’ that can appear later suitable volunteering opportunity for you. Find out more at in your CV.“ Maddie Smith, LSE Careers Consultant 3 Should I mention salary details and reasons for leaving previous jobs? Top tips: presenting your experience Not unless specifically asked to do so. • Your CV may form the framework of your interview. Be comfortable with what you have written and be prepared to 4 Do I need to give the full addresses of the elaborate and talk enthusiastically about anything on your CV. places I worked? • Be clear about your individual contributions to the No, simply mentioning the city is enough; for example, “Marks and achievements you list and be ready to explain them Spencer, London” or” London School of Economics and Political Science”. at interview. You can add the country if you feel the city is not very well known. • Avoid obscure abbreviations, jargon or slang. • Your CV should be an aid to the employer helping to direct 5 If my job title is in a foreign language, will them to the skills and experience they have asked for. I need to translate it? • Don’t underestimate your experiences. If you can demonstrate If the title is very different and obscure then you will need to translate the skills you acquired and apply them to the role you are it into the language of the country of application. For the UK market, applying for, then any experience can be of interest. it’s useful to check with a careers consultant that you have an accurate translation which means something significant. Remember that a clear • Try to quantify successes with facts and figures – “scored description of the work that you did will clarify your application. in top 5 per cent”, “increased sales by £x”, “managed a team of five staff”. “ Experience should be recent, relevant to work history and • Remember that you shouldn’t lie or misrepresent any in reverse chronological order. Never underestimate your information in your application - employers can dismiss experience – skills can be transferable so if you can demonstrate you if you do. they match the role, any experience can be of interest.” VSO International 13START HERE Achievements, interests and additional skills EXTRA CURRICULAR EXPERIENCE Appropriate level Secretary 10/2014 – present London International Model United Nations of detail  Coordinate the weekly meetings of the Organising Committee and ensure Same layout as timeline requirements are met work experience  Arrange venue and accommodation for over 70 participants Secretary 10/2014 – 06/2016 LSE Debate Society  Active member and debater in the LSE Debate Team, representing LSE at inter-varsity tournaments  Organised weekly meetings of the society, coordinating 30 members  Planned, prepared and facilitated the LSE Open 2015, an international inter- varsity competition, attended by 200 contestants International Editor 10/2014 – 06/2016 The Beaver, LSE’s weekly newspaper  Wrote a dedicated column on international affairs President 01/2012 – 12/2012 National Junior College Debate Club  Debater in the NJC Debate Team  Liaised with peers to ensure attendance at the Club, with responsibility for over 80 debaters Be selective AWARDS AND SCHOLARSHIPS and explain the  ‘Best second year exam performance, with reference to first years’ at LSE, significance of Headings are out of a possible 2000 students; The CS MacTaggart Prize 2015  Student of the Year 2013 out of 500 students; National Junior College, each example flexible in these Singapore sections IT SKILLS Relevant IT skills  Statistical software packages including eViews, Minitab and Stata  Touch typing ability c. 60 wpm are highlighted  Proficient in all major Microsoft Office applications, including complex formulae in Excel INTERESTS Backpacked through Mediterranean Europe for nine weeks, a particular highlight Goes into detail was visiting Florence and experiencing the Uffizi and Accademia museums about interests 1 What goes in my interests section? “While relevant experience is always viewed positively, don’t be put This section enables you to identify things that really interest or motivate off applying if you don’t have this. Think about the skills you’ve you. It may also indicate what your values are, aspects of your personality developed through other work experience and extra-curricular and the transferable skills you have developed. It is better to include one responsibilities and be explicit about these skills in your CV.” or two things which you are really involved with and can describe fully, FTI Consulting rather than to give a long list such as “reading, squash, cricket, dancing, 14music” with no detail. You might also want to include team or group 5 Should I include social media? activities that show you can interact well with other people. You could Don’t hide social media such as blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook if even treat this section in the same way as the rest of your CV using they portray you in a professional light. Including them on your CV shows dates, divisions such as “school” and “university” or grouping similar you have a grasp of new media, technological and communications things, like sports, together to enhance impact. skills, a passion for certain subjects or writing, and possibly a network of people who are interested in what you have to say. Personal social 2 What if I haven’t taken part in extra-curricular media accounts for private communication with friends are probably best activities before? hidden from employers. Keep them off your CV and alter the privacy settings so that only your friends can view them. It’s also worth searching You don’t have to include a section on extra-curricular activities or for your name online to see what kinds of things employers can find out achievements, but employers are often interested in what you have done about you whilst they screen applications. outside of work and academic studies. Think widely about what you have done before you came to University and whilst you have been at LSE or previous institutions. Don’t feel all is lost if you haven’t been president “ Candidates that show a combination of experiences, of a student society. Activities like volunteering, mentoring, being a behaviours and technical skills typically stand out as the most course representative, organising an event to raise money or the profile well-rounded and talented individuals. Use your application to of a particular cause are all relevant experience. It’s never too late to get share unique experiences and interests, and your involvement involved in something on or off campus. in academic and extra-curricular activities. Demonstrating skills like entrepreneurial spirit, problem solving, and ability to 3 How important are languages and how best motivate teams or peers will also help you stand out.” can I demonstrate them? L’Oréal This will depend on the position that you are applying for. If languages are one of the requirements of the job it may be worth writing them in a short, very specific personal profile at the top of your CV or in a prominent CV writing tips from a recruiter position on the first page. You may need to write about how you have • Be concise and ensure your information has an impact. used languages ie, writing reports, chairing a conference, handling client • Keep it simple and clear – you can always elaborate at requests by telephone. You will also need to describe your level of fluency the interview. using terms like native, fluent, intermediate, basic or conversational. • Analyse the job description – read it and identify which relevant 4 What level of IT skills do I need to demonstrate? skills, experience and competencies you have, or consider other experiences that could be appropriate. As long as your position is not IT related, it is generally accepted that a • Don’t have any unexplained gaps on your application. If you graduate will be able to cope with the IT skills needed to carry out a typical have had a career break or have been travelling, let us know. graduate entry role. Towards the end of your CV, you can detail your familiarity with packages, programming languages, operating systems, web • Academic and professional qualifications should flow in a design packages and the internet generally. IT skills may be a clear selling logical order. point for temporary positions or for positions within smaller organisations. • Check your application before submitting. Check spelling and get a friend or family member to read through if it helps. 15References References are usually requested by an employer on an application form 5 Do I have to give my current employer as or after the interview stage if the candidate has been successful. It is a reference? generally assumed that you will be able to provide references so you It’s standard practice to do this. If you don’t, the recruiter may think you don’t need to mention them on your CV. are hiding something. If you are concerned that your current employer doesn’t know you very well, or that a previous employer is more 1 How many referees do I need? impressive and you would rather use that, it might be better to discuss Usually two, preferably one LSE academic and a recent employer. this at a later stage in the recruitment process. If you do not have an employer use two academic referees instead. 6 My most recent employer is from a short, 2 No one in my department knows me. How casual job I have been doing. Can I use family will they be able to write me a reference? and friends instead? Try to make contact with your personal tutor and discuss with them the Most employers aren’t going to be interested in the actual referees you types of jobs you are applying for. Your tutor will have access to useful select (though they will be expecting one to be your current or most information about you on LSE For You. Therefore it is in your interest to recent employer) so don’t worry if your most recent employer isn’t keep this information updated. As well as posting your CV, you can also particularly relevant to the job you are applying for. write about the skills you have gained and comment about your class reports. All of this will be very useful information for a reference. 7 Do I need to get permission from a person before I use them as my referee? 3 Can I use overseas referees? Yes. It is even better if you can have a discussion with them and explain Yes you can. It is helpful to give an email address in this instance. the types of jobs you will be applying for and the skills required. 4 Can I use a referee who is somebody I know well and who already works for the organisation? The standard convention is to use an academic referee and your most recent employer. You do not need to name referees on your CV so it may be better to discuss the subject at a later stage in the recruitment process if you would like to use someone else. 168 I have two potential academic referees; one 9 Should I send a letter of recommendation of them is a well-known, high profile professor with my CV? who doesn’t know me very well, the other one In the UK the convention is not to send letters of recommendation with is not very well known but knows me very well. an application. Other countries may differ though so use resources like Which one should I use? “Going Global”, which LSE Careers subscribes to, for further information. It’s quite likely that the professor may not be that well known outside specialist circles and a reference from someone who knows you better would be more appropriate. However, if you are applying to organisations where the high profile professor will be known (for example if you are applying to another university or a think tank), then a reference from them may carry some weight. 17CV checklist We have stressed throughout this booklet the necessity of creating a CV Achievements/positions of responsibility that is targeted to a particular employer and to a particular job. Hopefully, Do you emphasise your personal contribution here? as a result of following the principles outlined in this booklet, you now have Is specific evidence for skills displayed? a strong CV that will reflect your abilities. You can use the checklist on this Is the significance of your achievement demonstrated? page to make sure you have included all the important elements of your CV: Can you quantify it? Have you highlighted the most r elevant roles or skills for the Content job you are applying for? Can you include any of these positions (eg, volunteering) in Personal an experience section or use them to highlight suitability for Contact addr ess/addresses and telephone numbers included? a particular career area? Does your email addr ess sound professional? Skills Have you included an up to date LinkedIn profile? Have you included your IT skills and evidenced these? Education How competent are you? Have you given most space to your most recent or relevant education? Speak any languages? Again, is the level of pr oficiency of each expressed? Have you highlighted relevant modules, projects and dissertations? Any academic awards? Any other information to include here eg, driving licence, professional training courses? Any key or relevant transferable skills highlighted? Is your education section easy to follow and consistent in approach? Other interests Anything else you need to explain (eg,”A” grade is equivalent to If ther e is space on your CV, do you go beyond listing lots of one- the top 1.5 per cent)? word examples? Have you given a variety of interests highlighting different skillsets? Work experience/internships Can your interests be used to demonstrate responsibility, Is this a compr ehensive overview of all the different jobs you have commitment and achievement? had? Are there ways of separating your employment by type or sector for emphasis? Referees Have you included job title, dates, organisation name, type of Has the employer asked for them to be included? Unless r equested business and location? then it’s not necessary to mention them at this stage. Have you highlighted the skills used, the impact you had, and the significance of your achievements in the position? Is this section ordered and the skills identified targeted towards your chosen future role? 18