Accessibility Links
Candidate Services

CV and cover letter tips

The cover letter is your opportunity to highlight and expand upon the skills and accomplishments detailed in your CV. You should use it to differentiate yourself from other applicants and to emphasise the specific benefits you can offer your prospective employer.

Identify yourself. Specify what job you are applying for. State when and where the advertisement appeared.

Refer to your CV and briefly indicate how your skills, experience and qualifications meet the employer's expressed requirements. Highlight aspects of your CV which make you suitable for the job. Stress your unique selling points.

Say why you want to join the organisation and do that particular job. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Show that you are enthusiastic and highly motivated.

Restate your interest and summarise your suitability. Say when you will be available for an interview. End your letter on a polite note - remember to say 'Thank you'.

Before you send your cover letter read it thoroughly and pay careful attention to punctuation, grammar and spelling - these factors are extremely important in ensuring your application is viewed positively.

Your CV

The purpose of the CV is to get you that all-important interview. To do this, it must be sharply focused and designed to grab the employer's attention. Therefore a 'one-size-fits-all' CV is less likely to make an impact than one which has been adjusted to focus on the requirements of a specific job.

* Job match analysis involves the evaluation of your profile compared to the job description. Carrying out such  analysis will enable you to match your own skills and accomplishments to those that the employer is looking for. It will also help you to target your CV, covering letter and interview answers with greater accuracy and precision.

* You should begin by studying the job advertisement to determine exactly what your prospective employer requires

* The job description will give a summary of the purposes of the job and the duties involved. The employee specification will identify the knowledge, skills and competencies required of an ideal jobseeker

* Your task is to convince the employer that you meet the requirements

It is extremely important to research the company or organisation that you are applying to. 

Relevant information is usually obtainable from their promotional literature, annual reports and website. Internet search engines can be a particularly fruitful resource.

Having determined what the employer wants and assessed what you've got to offer, it's time to compile your CV. You will have to decide whether to send an e-mail or a hard-copy version, or both.

Tailor your CV so that it addresses the employer's needs. Prioritise and highlight the skills and accomplishments which you think would fit the employer's expectations of the ideal employee.

Use the words and phrases that appear in the advertisement and highlight the skills and experience specifically requested remembering to include transferable skills. Try to deduce what other unspecified skills might be required. Make sure to record all your relevant qualifications and experience.

Remember the distinction between claims and credibility. Make statements about your skills and achievements and back them up with hard evidence.

Give examples of problems you may have encountered, the actions you took and the results you obtained.
Concentrate on how the company benefited in terms of improved productivity, sales, profits, customer relations, etc.

Use action verbs when listing accomplishments in your hard-copy CV, i.e. 'conducted', 'established', 'implemented', 'increased', ' investigated', 'negotiated', 'reorganised'.
Quantify, personalise and be specific in your descriptions.

When describing your work experience, use job titles or skill headings that match the job you are applying for. Be positive and forward looking. Use past accomplishments as an indicator of future results.
Concentrate on how your prospective employer will benefit from your skills, qualifications and experience.

Since your CV will be competing with hundreds of others, visual layout is very important. It must be carefully structured, uncluttered and easy to scan. Headings should be appropriate. Use section breaks, white space and bullet points to break the text. Ideally, it should no longer than two A4 sheets. Check for spelling, grammar and typographical errors.

CV's are Changing - Is yours internet friendly?

The basic CV has not changed for a very long time but now thanks to the internet the CV is undergoing a metamorphosis.

Smart job seekers are changing their CV's to maximise their success in finding suitable positions through the web. Computers and database search engines use different criteria than a personnel manager when initially identifying potential jobseekers. Most sites have 24 hour access so CV's put on the Net are constantly active and working for you.

Verbs are Out - Nouns are In
Key words are the prime issue in any C.V. to be put on the Net. These are words that pop up when employers search a database. Key words also tend to be nouns i.e. skills, software packages, types of projects etc. Adjectives and verbs generally will not be used as the search criteria and CV's that rely on these will therefore have a reduced chance of being short listed.

Chronology is Out - KSA is In
KSA stands for Knowledge, Skills and Ability. Many of the most successful CV's on the Net have a key word section very near the top containing all the person's attributes. This section ensures that your CV is more likely to be selected when an employer searches a database.

Formatting is dead
Switch off the fancy italics and bold face - databases cannot understand them and scanners tend to scramble them.

Like everything associated with modern technology, usage of the Net as a recruitment tool is accelerating very quickly. For those of you who want to be well ahead of the game how about attaching a short video attachment to an online resume and smile sweetly at your future employer before you have met them?

Anders spotlight