CV & Cover Letter
You may possess all of the desired skills and experience to excel at a particular role, but if you don’t document this clearly in your CV or supporting cover letter, there is the risk you may fall at the first hurdle of the recruitment process. It is worth remembering that employers may receive hundreds of applications for a single role, therefore leaving them with a lasting first impression is critical.
CV writing tips
- Keep it brief – ideally you CV should be no longer than two pages
- Make it easy to read by ensuring the formatting remains consistent throughout
- List your career history and education summary in chronological order
- Include key skills such as computer literacy and useful information such the ability to speak a foreign language
- List any relevant institutions you are a part of, for example IMechE, IRSE or YRP
- Do not include personal information such as age or religion
- Do not list references, simply state “references are available upon request”
- Always ask someone to proof read your CV to ensure it reads well with no inconsistencies and spelling errors.
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
An employer will spend approximately 20 seconds reviewing your CV, so how do you ensure it makes a significant enough impact to grab their attention? The simple answer is a cover letter.
This letter should act as a pitch as to why the company should employ you. All of its contents should reaffirm to the reader that you are the right person for that job. Remember to do your research on the company, review the job specification and include your findings in the covering letter. In doing this you will demonstrate to the employer that you have initiative and are genuinely interested in the company.
Research shows that applicants who include a covering letter with their CV are 10% more likely to receive a reply from an employer, whilst adding the correct contact information can further increase your chances of interview by 5%.
How to format a cover letter
A cover letter should be written in a standard formal letter writing style. Remember to balance the letter correctly using the entire document and making sure the text is evenly distributed.
It is advisable that you type your cover letter, hand sign and attach a copy of your printed CV before posting – one should never be sent without the other.
Additional points to note
- Avoid sounding arrogant or using clichés – there are some statements that are consistently used by candidates, remember you want your letter to stand out
- Avoid using ‘I’ too much. “I did this” and “I did that” is not appealing to the reader and may give the wrong impression
- Subtly flatter the company, for example “you’re a well thought of organisation who…”
- Keep your cover letter to one side of A4
- Always double check all spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Follow up your cover letter with a phone call or email