CV and Cover letter tips

5 Steps to a great CV and cover letter and best font for cv and cover letter and excellent cv cover letter examples
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Published Date:16-07-2017
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5 Steps to a great CV and cover letter Inside this guide In 5 steps to a great CV and cover letter you will find help and information on how to turn your CV and covering letter into a persuasive marketing tool which aims to grab an employer’s attention in 30 seconds The guide is arranged in 5 steps which not only covers the process of putting together your CV but also the cover letter which is an integral part of applying for a job using a CV. It is important to note that there are no templates included in this guide as we feel that it is important to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for and more importantly to make it original so that you can stand out. There is a check list at the end so you can make sure you have included all the essential ingredients and a list of additional resources if you need extra help. Contents Contents Step 1 – Know your audience Page 3 Step 2 – Know yourself Page 4 Step 3 – Make it relevant Page 5 Step 4 – Have a good visual style Page 8 Step 5 – Write a cover letter Page 9 CV checklist Page 10 Additional resources and advice Page 11 2 Step 1- Know your audience This is essential. For most jobs the employer will provide a job description and person specification indicating the skills, experiences and qualifications that they require. Every job description is unique to that job. Employers want to feel as though your CV has been written for them and only them and is clearly tailored to their specific job description. No job description available? There’s still no excuse for not tailoring your CV to the role. You can use job profiles provided on websites such prospects.ac.uk and Targetjobs. Find details about the common competencies and qualifications needed for the type of job to which you are applying. Example person specification from the Prospects website Broadcast Journalist Potential candidates will need to show evidence of some or all of the following: •an interest in news, current affairs and a good general knowledge; •excellent written communication; •good oral communication, with an authoritative voice, confidence in front of a camera and an 'on air' presence; •an understanding of appropriate technical equipment and relevant editing software; •ability to work under pressure, both within teams and individually; •outstanding analytical skills and ability to absorb, extract and present information in a clear and understandable way; •an interest in people/building rapport, able to handle interactions with sensitivity, empathy and diplomacy; •an eye for a story, with an ability to generate original ideas and the confidence to pitch to senior editors; •resourcefulness and creative problem-solving skills. It’s not just about the role – you will need to demonstrate you understand the company and its industry sector. Use our leaflet on ‘How to research employers’ to find reputable and valid sources of company information. Use LinkedIn to network with people in the industry and use their expertise to help you understand the culture, values and what employers in your area of interest are looking for in candidates. Knowing your audience and understanding the role in their context helps you tailor your CV making you stand out from the crowd. 3 Step 2- Know yourself Identify, Evidence, Apply  Think about examples which demonstrate that you have the skills, qualities and experiences for the job.  Choose examples which persuade the employer that you have the potential to add value to their organisation.  Examples could come from any aspect of your life. Use the Progress tool on Canvas to audit your skills and identify those which match the role. Required key competencies My evidence Application to demonstrate impact and achievements Initiative Student group at societies Negotiated with local takeaway and fair obtained vouchers. Gave away vouchers on stand which attracted more people; increased membership by 20% Organisation Charity music event Used on-line project management tool to make it easier to collaborate with team, bands, agents, venue manager – resulting in faster communication Resilience to cope under Casual bar job at sports Long queues at match intervals; pressure venue maintained high standard of service despite time pressure Interpersonal skills, patience, Healthcare assistant Built good rapport with discretion confused/distressed patients; exercised tact when carrying out duties which reduced their discomfort Eye for detail Set design for University Thorough research into WW2 set; theatre group advice via forums on British Army paint colour which added authenticity to student production Strong written English Degree coursework Excellent result for dissertation; feedback from tutor indicated my argument was very persuasive 4 Step 3 – Make it relevant Clear, concise content together with an effective structure will help you to make an impression. There are many templates and layouts available and a CV could be one page or several pages long depending on your situation. Some styles are designed to place the spotlight on your relevant experience others focus on your academic attainments. Whatever format you choose it is likely to include some or all, of the following sections: Name and contact details Example Make your JOE BLOGS name the 81 Harold Grove, Bimingham B29 7ZZ. Tel: 0121 2866667 email: j.bloggsbham.ac.uk one they remember with bold capitals size 18 Your address, telephone number, e mail, can run across the page to save space. Include your LinkedIn Profile profile if you have one. You don’t need to include your date of birth, gender marital status or nationality as these are “protected characteristics” in UK Equality Law. Profile Example A commercially aware and IT literate science graduate with highly developed problem-solving, interpersonal and communication skills now looking for a careers opportunity in management consultancy. A career objective, personal statement or Make it short, snappy and personal profile though not an essential concise - 4-5 lines. element of a CV can make an effective Use lively, positive, introduction to you and your document. It powerful language offers your reader a “taster” that catches Tailor it to the role applied their attention and makes them want to know for, make it relevant. more. Structure it in three sections:  Who you are… I am a University of Birmingham finalist studying BSc Accounting and Finance …  What you can offer ……. 5 Mention a couple of your qualities, skills and any experience you may have that suit the employer’s needs.  Where you want to be… I am keen to contribute and develop in a… Work Experience A generic work experience heading is fine but if you have specific experience that is relevant to the role you are applying for, draw attention to it with a clear header e.g.’Events planning experience’. Whether it’s long term paid employment or a holiday insight experience, voluntary work or student society activity, from last month or last year, front load it  Use a bullet point format. It’s easy for your reader to scan and you can clearly illustrate different pieces of evidence.  Use the following structure: Verb, Action, Responsibility, Task, Skill, Result  Start with an active verb e.g. Organised, Arranged, Created, Implemented and then move into the responsibility or task, the action you took and the skill you utilised or developed. Finish with a result, this doesn’t have to be quantifiable e.g. increased sales by 10% - it could be about the impact your contribution had on a project or team or something you personally achieved. Example Responsible for planning and organising a charity music event with 5 bands on the bill, I negotiated with the venue, created marketing materials and ensured we kept within budget. The event was very successful and attended by over 300 people. Education Always use reverse chronological order, leading with your most recent and most impressive attainment. Add details that are relevant to the role:  Modules of specific relevance  impressive marks which demonstrate a competency in something mentioned in the job description  A relevant dissertation topic. The amount of detail you include will vary, depending on whether you are applying for a competitive graduate scheme, postgraduate study or a part time job. Example University of Birmingham BA English(predicted 2:1) Sept 2012-2015 6 Include modules studied relevant to the role or statement outlining skills developed… Additional skills Skills such as communication and team work can be effectively evidenced within your work experience section. ‘Additional skills’ is a good place to group other, useful skills of interest to an employer, for example:  IT: Confident user of MS Word, Excel, Power Point, Outlook and familiar with Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop.  Languages: Language skills are desirable and increasingly sought after by employers so make sure you emphasise your ability, state your level of fluency rather than listing qualifications, i.e. French - fluent spoken, Italian - conversational  Driving: Clean UK Driving Licence. Achievements Use those that demonstrate the competencies required in the job description. Example  Elected Vice- President of The University of Birmingham Rhythm and Blues Society.  Awarded the “Student Volunteer of the Year” prize in recognition of my role planning and organising a charity fun run that attracted 160 participants and raised £748.  Attained Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award. Interests This can be a useful way to convey subliminal messages about your skills and competencies. (E.g. Regular Sunday league football shows commitment, dedication, stamina and teamwork). They also give the employer insight and allow them to appreciate your personality and passions. Example Active member of the University of Birmingham Women in Finance Society. I participate in networking events, promote the Society through social media and staff our information stand at Open Days. References At this stage in the recruitment process - Details available on request - is sufficient. Do make sure you have permission from your referees and that they are aware of your applications. 7 Step 4 – Have a good visual style This is very important, you only have a few seconds to make an impact, so make sure your CV is an appealing document that invites your reader to explore the content. Your CV should be a maximum of 2 sides of A4 (unless you would like to include your publications if these are important for the post.) Remember employers may have hundreds of CVs to look through and will often be looking for reasons to reject so it is important that key facts stand out and there are no errors. 8 Step 5 – Write a cover letter You’ll need to send a one-page covering letter or email with your CV. It’s part of your application and intended to demonstrate quickly your suitability for the post and make recruiters want to look at your CV. There’s no standard format, but a successful covering letter highlights your strengths, relevant skills and experience in a concise manner. It’s the place to write about your motivation, interest and enthusiasm for the post and the organization. The basics  Use no more than one side of A4.  Keep it formal and use the correct modes of address: ‘Dear Sir /Madam’ signs off with Yours faithfully’ and ‘Dear Mrs Jones with ‘Yours sincerely’  Avoid jargon, clichés and unsupported claims.  Write positively and enthusiastically Example cover letter Your address Name of employer Address Date Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss Surname If you are provided with a named contact then use this. If one is not provided and it is a small company, we advise phoning and finding out who to write to. If you’re applying to a large company and the letter is part of the online application form, then don’t worry about finding a named person but instead write to a job title e.g. Dear recruitment manager. Never use this if you’re making a speculative approach; always make an effort to find out who to write to; LinkedIn can be a very useful tool for this. First paragraph Briefly outline the job you are applying for and where you found the vacancy Second paragraph From your research into the employer, identify your key reasons why you want to work there and what interests you about the job. Demonstrate your motivation for working there in that job and if appropriate how this fits with your career goals. Third paragraph Having identified from your research the most important skills/competencies/experience required by the employer, use evidence (from work experience, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, academic projects) to demonstrate that you have applied these skills/competencies to achieve results/make an impact. Yours sincerely (if writing to a named person), Yours faithfully (if Dear recruitment manager) 9 CV Checklist Do the 20 second test on your CV; could an employer scan through your CV and immediately see what they are looking for? Remember: Just 20 seconds to The basics impress Two sides of A4 Correct spelling and grammar Name at the top (not Curriculum Vitae) Education in reverse chronological order No unexplained long gaps in Education or Experience GCSEs summarised not listed number GCSEs grade to grade including English grade and Maths grade Format and visual style All text neatly aligned according to set margins/tabs Bullet points used rather than paragraphs of text Font size 11 or 12 and one style One method of emphasis for headings (Bold, Italics or Underlining) Clear rather than crowded UK CV Norms No photo No “protected characteristics” i.e. date of birth, gender etc. 10 Additional resources and advice Advice  CV advice appointments are available most days during term.  See intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/careers for details of availability and how to book.  Interactive CV workshops run regularly throughout term time, find detail on Events intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/careers  E guidance - If you are not able to come along to meet us, you can send a draft copy of your CV and receive advice by e mail - see above for details. Canvas  5 Steps to Success in Recruitment- offers information, advice, quizzes and videos on CVs and every other aspect of the recruitment process. You can self- enroll 5 Steps to Success in Recruitment https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/enroll/8MRAEA Websites  www.prospects.ac.uk (under careers advice)  http://careers.guardian.co.uk  www.skill.org.uk (for students with disabilities)  www.vitae.ac.uk (for academic CVs) Sector specific information:  http://targetjobs.co.uk,  www.insidecareers.co.uk,  www.wikijob.co.uk,  www.creative-choices.co.uk,  www.skillset.org,  www.careerplayer.com Reference books available in the Careers Network library Pitch Yourself - Bill Faust and Michael Faust 11

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