Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is the key that unlocks the door towards a successful job application. Employers use CVs and application forms to sieve through applicants so you need to make a good first impression. You can do this by:
- Presenting information clearly and concisely in a logical order.
- Focusing on what benefits you can bring your employer through your experiences and skills.
Presenting your CV
It's a good idea to tailor your CV to highlight skills/experience/personal qualities that are particularly relevant to the job you are applying for. You can work this out by careful reading of the job description and/or doing some research into the employer you are applying to.
Set out your CV in a tidy way. Your potential employer will be scanning it, looking for particular things and may not have long to spend on it. Stick to a common font, in black ink and make subheadings stand out by using bold/uppercase.
Things to Include in Your CV
Contact details - Name, address, contact phone numbers, email.
A brief statement - describe yourself (Studying what and where etc).
Summarise your key attributes - tailored to the position being applied for (use short sentences and be positive).
Qualifications - GCSEs, A Levels, Degree, etc. State subjects and pass grades/levels and always put the most recent first.
Skills - Languages (state level of competency, e.g. conversational, fluent), computer literacy (packages you are familiar with), ability to drive and clean license if the job requires it.
Work experience - either voluntary experience or paid work that has been gained again always stating the most recent first.
Interests - including a few of your hobbies and interests shows your employer that you are a rounded person. They may also indicate more of your skills e.g. that you can be a team player or have commitment. Membership of Professional Bodies can be included in this section - this will show enthusiasm and a desire to stay up-to-date.
Your Covering Letter
Covering letters are necessary to make links between the job description and your CV. They give you a chance to show that you possess the skills for the job. It is important to tailor your cover letter to the job you are applying for.
- Start with: Dear Mr/Mrs Smith,
- Paragraph 1: Who you are and why you are writing.
- Paragraph 2: How your skills match the job.
- Paragraph 3: Why you want the job - what is your motivation?
- Paragraph 4: Mention enclosed CV and any other necessary details.
- Finish with: Yours sincerely and remember to sign.
Not only are interviews a chance for the employer to find out more about you and whether they think you will suit the job, they are also a chance for you to find out more about the job and organisation that you have applied to.
Before the interview
- Familiarise yourself with what you wrote in the application/covering letter.
- Look at the skills they have highlighted as important and think of examples of how you possess those skills.
- Research the company - both overall research and research focusing on your particular area is important.
- Practice answering typical interview questions with friends or family.
- Make a list of questions you want to ask the employer at the interview.
- Make sure you know where the interview is being held and at what time.
- Be friendly to all staff members that you meet and smile.
During the interview
- Dress smartly and appear tidy and well presented.
- Give the interviewer a good firm handshake and make eye contact.
- Sit straight on your chair, don't cross your arms or fidget - this will make you look nervous.
- Take a folder with you with the application form, job description, copy of your CV, invitation to the interview and other relevant information such as exercises you are asked to complete before the interview.
- When answering include examples of things you have done in your studies, work experience and hobbies that are relevant to the question asked.
- Observe the interviewers - how do they react to your answers?