Your CV gives an initial snapshot of your working history.
It’s your chance to sell yourself and show what you can bring to the role you’re applying for.
A strong CV can secure an interview, creating a good impression before the first meeting.
The cover letter should be treated as your personal marketing literature – it introduces you. Your CV and is your first chance to make a good impression.
If you are replying to a job advert, include the job title, reference number and where you saw it.
The content should be brief, structured and should not repeat details in your CV. Outline your current situation, why you’re seeking a new challenge and also state why you’re interested in working for the company. Highlight your transferable skills, achievements and versatility.
Writing your CV
Write down all the facts about yourself, your career and training experience.
Decide how this will relate to the job you’re applying for.
Clearly state the dates you were employed, and write a short, bullet-point description of the duties for each.
Finally, make sure you have included any requested information, such as expected or current salary and benefits.
You should include:
- Personal details: full name and contact details, including address, telephone number and email.
- Profile: This is your opportunity to really capture your audience and sell yourself. Ideally, a one-paragraph profile that sums up your professional and personal attributes, such as key roles to date, your experience in a specific sector or industry, your unique selling points
- Employment record: career history should be presented in reverse date order, with a short overview of the main responsibilities and career progression. If you are looking for your first job, highlight your training, skills and relevant work experience.
- Educational history and professional qualifications: names of institutions and dates attended (most recent first) grades and passes, training, development and computer skills.
- Hobbies and interests: listed last and kept to a minimum.
- References: you can list up to two with their permission, or state ‘available on request’.
Use white paper and a plain font.
Do not include WordArt, ClipArt, graphics or photographs, as this can make the document look cluttered.
Keep to two pages if possible.
Always check your spelling and grammar.
You must prepare before going to an interview. The more you prepare, the less likely you will need to think on your feet on the day.
Your careers consultant will help you find out as much as you can about the company, the culture, the job and the person who will be interviewing you.
Think about what skills or experience you may have that match the job description and prepare to highlight these on the day.
Take a copy of your CV and any certificates or references with you.
Plan your journey and set off early. If you’re going to be late, ring the company to let them know. If you do decide not to go, you must tell them.
But don’t be late!
Prepare some relevant questions you can ask at the interview.
On the day
Remember, appearances do count and the first few seconds are vital. Companies often have different standards of dress.
When you meet your contact, walk confidently, shake hands, look them in the eye, smile and introduce yourself.
Watch your body language, sit upright and look keen. Keep control of your hands as touching your hair, fiddling with a pen or button, for example, can be distracting.
Be natural, be yourself, be positive.
Make sure you show how your experience matches the key areas of the role.
Give precise and detailed answers to questions, highlighting any relevant experience.
If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification.
Think about what is going to make you stand out from the crowd. Make sure you highlight the benefits of employing you.
If you are interested in the position, say so. Ask what the next stage is and if the interviewer thinks you are suitable for the role.
When the interview has finished, stand up, smile, shake hands and thank the interviewer for their time.
Frequently asked questions
The following questions often asked at interviews:
- What do you know about the company?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- Why are you interested in this job?
- What skills could you bring to the job?
- What do you like doing best or least in your current role?
- Do you prefer to work in a team or alone?
- What do you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses?
- What is your greatest achievement?
- Can you work under pressure? Tell us about when you have had to do so.
- How would you handle difficult clients or customers?
- How do you like to be managed?
- Where would you like to be in five years?
- What salary are you looking for?
- Why should I hire you?
Questions you may wish to ask at an interview:
- What is the most important aspect of the job?
- Who will I be working for or with?
- How many people are in the department?
- Are there any periods when business peaks? What effect will this have on the job, if any?
- Are there any training schemes?
- What are the prospects for promotion?
- What are the other benefits?