The CV / Resume & Cover Letter
The purpose of this area is to give information about CVs and Cover Letters. You will also find lots of links to very useful sites with all the information you need.
The CV / Resume
CVs can look very different and there isn’t really a single universal CV format that would guarantee you the job or that would be “the right one”. There are though several important points to be remembered when writing a CV and these points will be gone through here.
Format rules of your CV / Resume
- 2 A4 pages maximum. If the CV gets longer the reader might already lose interest and forget what he read.
- Well laid out document that uses normal font styles (Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial). Straight margins and perfectly word processed.
- Use lots of spaces if possible and the flow of the points should be logical. An easy-to-read layout.
- Use white good quality paper if sending a paper application. If sending electronically make sure the text is easy to read and the background colour is white. No images please.
- Put a central block heading with key details of you that the recruiter can see immediately. Avoid putting here your age, marital status and other details that are not relevant.
- Use bold, underlined or highlighted headings to make it easy to see where each section starts.
Content and substance rules CV / Resume
You could put a career objective or a self-marketing statement under the central block heading. This would tell the reader a bit more about who you are and what you want. Some recruiters do not though want this, so it really is up to you and what you think sells you better. As mentioned in the introduction, there are as many CV formats as there are opinions.
Analyse your key skills and what you have achieved so far in your life.
You can also put a personal section in the end of the CV that would explain in more detail who You really are. Many recruiters don’t’ have a lot of time to read carefully the Cvs they get and thus only look at the beginning and the end. By having a good ending that sells you as a person, you might just convince the employer to put you in the right pile instead of the rubbish bin. Once again some recruiters don’t think this is important and it is left for you to decide.
Use lots of adjectives and positive, dynamic, precise and concise language. Mistakes on your CV just makes you look stupid. The last thing you want is to waste the recruiter's time with them trying to understand what you are writing and trying to say.
Use examples whenever possible. This is so important. Show them actually why you have the skills you are saying you have. Show for example that your keen eye for detail saved your previous employer lots of money because of all the mistakes you found and corrected.
What section comes in what order varies from person to person. If you are a fresh student and don’t have lots of work experience then more emphasis should be put on explaining your education and extracurricular activities and how they have shaped you as a person. If you have work experience, then this should be your key selling point. Don’t just write the time you have worked, the company and the title. Explain what you actually did, what you learnt and what impact You actually made. This is important to remember.
Always put the most recent event on top and then go back in time as you go down.
Be consistent and clear with everything you are trying to communicate to the recruiter. They do not have any extra time to be wasted. A very small thing could decide if you get to the interview or not. Make sure you get there.
What your CV / Resume should say
When writing a CV you have to remember the following thing. What you are trying to say always has a deeper meaning and each section of your CV should explain “more” about you. What this means is explained below.
What you write and What the reader understands
- Name/Address/etc: I am easy to contact and organised.
- Personal profile: I am very good and I can offer you all this.
- Education & Qualifications: I am a clever person. Look at my achievements.
- Work experience: Look at what I have done so far. I am a very hard worker.
- Relevant skill: I am especially good at this. You (the employer) can use these skills to your advantage.
- Personal interests: I am very interesting and outgoing. I have a life and I like to socialize and take care of myself.
- References: These people will tell you how nice and wonderful I am. They will back every word I am saying.
The point is thus that you have to make sure that each section makes you look as good as possible. Make sure the reader understands your points and sell, sell, sell yourself. You are a very good employee. You know that. Make the employer aware of that too. Make them understand that they need you in their organisation. There is though a thin red line here and don’t step over it and appear as over-confident and cocky. Like you know you are the best. Be confident in yourself and your skills. It will shine through.
Power words to use on your CV / Resume
One point that also has to be made here is about the power words. Some companies actually use computer programs to do the initial screening of applicants and they do this by looking for certain power words in the CV and Cover Letter. This may seem cold and unfair but that is the way some companies do it. Although a computer program wouldn’t be used you should still use these power words since they have an impact on the reader and make you "shine". Some of the words you can use are.
Skills and abilities to talk about on your CV / Resume
When writing your CV and Cover Letter you should use lots of examples and there is a reason for this. This shows how you really have behaved in some situations and what skills and abilities you have. Below are some skills you should address in your application.This depends of course on where it is you are applying.
- Willingness to learn
* Communication skills (both spoken and written)
- General drive and energy
- Achievement oriented and generally motivated
- Problem solving skills
- Analytical abilities
- Ability to summarise key issues
- Logical reasoning abilities
- Numerical skills
- Verbal skills
- Ability to work under pressure
- Time management
- Customer/client service skills
- Research skills
Always remember though that when you say you possess these skills you have to prove it with an example. Know yourself and think about what you have done. You will most certainly have many of these skills but you have to know this and be aware of them. Don’t be afraid to put as many of these as possible on your CV. Sell yourself.
The Cover Letter
The Cover Letter is your friend. Its task is to complement and compliment your CV and tell more about you. In some cases where applications are identical, the recruiters might make the decision based on your Cover Letter. This is thus an important document and some people think it is even the key to getting a job.
The task of the covering letter is to:
- Reinforce key points made in the CV or application form.
- It can accompany the CV and application form even if not asked.
- It need to be fairly brief and to the point. Don’t write loads here.
- It needs a good beginning.
- It should say what you want and can do for that employer.
- It should say how you are suited to the job/work.
- It should have a good ending. Maybe an assumptive ending, like "I am looking forward to meeting you very soon".
The precise format of the Cover Letter is though dependant on your profession and the industry and even the company you want to work for. There are though samples available that can be found right below and in the links at the bottom of the page.
Good luck with your job hunt.