Cvs, Cover Letters and Applications

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1 Cvs, Cover Letters and Applications Careers

2 Top Tips: Tailor your application or covering letter for each individual job by matching your skills, interests and experience to the selection criteria. Make sure to present key attributes that are relevant for the job to make you stand out against other candidates. Have your CV or application checked for format, layout, and spelling/grammatical errors. CVs Top Tip: You have about 30 seconds to make a good first impression make it count. Your CV should not be more than 2 pages and your covering letter should not exceed 1 page in most cases. What is really needed? Study the job advertisement to try to figure out what s really needed. Use the company s recruitment literature and website if there s none available, look at what other employers produce for similar jobs or look at job profiles on the Prospects website: Before starting to construct your CV, try a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to highlight your main selling points and identify any gaps/problems. Which layout? Decide if you need a 1 or 2 - page CV. Single page is often better for speculative applications or early in your course. Academic posts may require 3 sides with details of publications, conference input, etc. Give space and prominence to your main selling points. You don t usually have to include every course module or part-time job. Normally use reverse chronological order (ie most recent experience first) for education and work experience. List your degree first. State the subject studied and expected degree classification (eg 2:1). If still studying, you may want to include current modules relevant to the job. Include all A levels or relevant qualifications with results.

3 For your GCSEs, you can summarise the number of subjects, and state those in which you achieved A-C grades, but you must always list Maths and English with grades. If applying for a part-time or more casual job, be brief and stress practical skills gained such as use of IT. It may be suitable to use a layout which is more skillsbased, particularly if you lack related work experience, but can demonstrate useful skills gained from university activities or other jobs. Decide which layout will work best for the particular employer/job role. What Should I Cover? Your CV will normally cover personal details, education, work experience, skills, interests and references but you can put some of this information under headings such as: Relevant experience/industrial Placements/Legal Profession Experience/Customer Service/Voluntary Work (make the heading tell a story). Education and Awards (prizes, scholarships, employer sponsorship). Additional work experience/part-time work. Top Tip: Using identical CVs or covering letters to apply for multiple jobs is a waste of time. Positions of responsibility (official roles or leadership opportunities).

4 Achievements (if you have specific outcomes from your interests or extra -curricular activities). Additional skills (anything else that may be appropriate - languages, IT, driving licence, or other relevant qualifications). How do I make my CV look professional? Use clear, concise headings, well-aligned tabs, and minimum 10-pt font. Use good quality paper for hard copies. Avoid extremes of thin text and clutter - separate sections with white space and make things easy to see by using margins, bullet points and short phrases. Use simple direct language and action words for impact. Top Tip: What they see is what they get. Employers generally know nothing about you and will base decisions on what you put (or don t put) in your CV or covering letter. What particularly impresses employers? Evidence that you really value your achievements (it doesn t matter if you worked in a shop or bar part-time recruiters want to hear about the skills and experience you gained such as managing budgets, developing customer service, or problem-solving). Quantification of major achievements did you raise a significant amount of money for a charity or society? Present to a sizeable audience? Supervise a team? win a regional or national award? Show the scale of the achievement. Showing examples of how you ve overcome major challenges such as coping with a disability or learning difficulty. Frequently Asked Questions Q: I m too busy for all this; how can I cut corners? A: Once you have a good CV, it s easy to customise it for different applications. Sending below-average CVs is a waste of time.

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6 Q: Should I include a general profile or career aim on my CV? A: It s not necessary unless you provide a list of specific and relevant skills at the beginning of your CV to encourage employers to look further. Discuss your career aim in your covering letter instead. Q: My A level grades aren t great. Can I leave them out? A: No employers make assumptions about why something is omitted. It s better to include them and put an explanation in your covering letter. Q: Should I include a photo? A: Only if the employer specifically requests one. Then use a good quality original or scanned version. Q: Should I include every part-time job I ve had? Frequently Asked Questions about CVs A: Individually list only the most relevant ones or try summarising the least recent or less relevant ones (ie by saying temporary agency jobs including a, b & c which gave me x, y and z skills ). Q: Are CVs for overseas jobs the same? A: No they can be required in different formats. Ask in the PDC for examples or look on websites of agencies recruiting for international jobs. Q: I m an International student how do I explain my overseas qualifications? A: As UK employers won t necessarily be familiar with overseas qualifications you will need to show how your grades fit into a range (ie grade point average 3.33 out of 4.0 or a B grade out of A-F). Look on the UK Naric website to relate your qualifications to the UK equivalent: There are additional resources on the PDC website to help International students understand the UK recruitment process Q: Do I need to include details of referees on the CV or application? A: No - employers don t normally take up references until after the interview, so simply put References available on request. Always ask referees permission before listing them and make sure to indicate their title or how they know you (personal

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8 tutor, placement manager, etc). Include both their phone number and address. Q: What should I include under personal information? A: Address(es), and phone number(s) (including a mobile number if you access that one the most). Don t use an that sounds unprofessional create a new one or use your Brunel . Q: Should I disclose a disability on my CV or Covering Letter? A: It depends on individual circumstances. Disclosure may explain gaps in education or employment or lack of experience which might otherwise count against you. Alternatively, you may feel that there is no relevance to your future performance at work. If you decide to disclose a disability, make sure to focus on the positives - skills, experience, and strategies for achieving academic and personal successes given the circumstances. Consider applying to businesses in the Business Disability Forum who are especially committed to equal opportunity: Top Tip: Don t rely on spellcheckers. Proof read your CV / covering letter yourself and have another person, such as a friend or member of the PDC look it over.

9 Cover letters What is the purpose of a covering letter? Your covering letter personalises your CV by telling recruiters why their job interests you and what you can offer. It is your main selling point. A well-written, targeted cover letter can be the deciding factor in whether you are shortlisted for an interview. Personal statements explained Some jobs may require you to complete a personal statement explaining why you are interested in the position, or other white-gap questions relating to the role. Your answers may be restricted by a word limit. A personal statement allows you to relate your experience by telling a personal story as opposed to a cover letter which is more of a formal summary. What s the suggested format? Use a standard business layout with your address top right and the name and address of the recipient in the left margin below. Place the date below the recipient s address. Insert the job reference number (if any) after the greeting and before the main text, which should consist of 3-4 paragraphs. Top Tip: Always write to a named person with correct title and job role. Phone or the company if necessary to find the right one. Are there specific guidelines for submitting a covering letter online or by ? If you are submitting your covering letter by or online, make sure your CV accompanies this. It is suggested that you attach or upload them as separate documents, unless the recruitment guidelines specify a different format. In the body of an , address the recipient by title and last name (eg Mr or Mrs Smith), and mention the specific job role or reference you are applying for. Keep the tone formal and business-like.

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11 What should I write about? Introduction State your motivation or your reason for applying for the particular position and make clear whether it s a speculative approach or response to an advertised vacancy. If the latter, give the job title and say where you saw it (if appropriate). Include a oneline summary of relevant experience and academic achievement. Why them - Write about why you really want to work for the organisation and show a deeper interest than just, working for a big name. Briefly indicate how you ve researched the organisation (PDC, personal contact, job fair, LinkedIn, etc) and what you could bring to both the job and the company. Why you Write about what you could bring to both the job and the company. Make sure to list any work experience you ve done as well as the skills and learning outcomes gained. Specific issues - Address any issues such as gaps in your CV, low exam grades which don t reflect your ability, or concerns the employer may have. Conclusion Include an enthusiastic phrase such as I look forward to hearing from you or I am really excited by this role. Say you will phone to follow up a speculative application (and do this within two weeks). You can also include practical details, eg availability for interview or for work experience. Close with, Yours Sincerely if you used a named contact (eg Dear Mr. Smith )and Yours faithfully if you had to use Dear Sir/Madam. Top Tip: If applying for an advertised vacancy, highlight your skills and experience by relating them to each point in the job specification. Use bullet points if necessary.

12 Applications Do you meet the criteria? Most applications are now completed and submitted online through a company s website. Make sure to read through the form and spend some time considering whether you meet the employer s basic criteria. You are in a competitive market and it is wise to spend your energy applying for vacancies that you have a good chance of securing. How do I tackle specific questions? As well as the usual questions regarding your education and employment, application forms generally feature a set of competency based questions designed to measure the skills and experiences you have to offer against the competencies needed for the job. They require specific examples as evidence so give your best and most suitable ones. Try to ensure that examples draw on a broad range of experiences rather than being focused on one area. How do I make my application stand out? Do some background research, both on the company to which you are applying and the particular profession you may be hoping to join. Read information available on the company s website, social media accounts, in recent news articles, and on blog sites. Completing the form What do I write about? Answer questions accurately and truthfully. Some companies will check your qualifications and previous employers and an offer of employment may depend on their being able to verify what you claim. At the interview stage, you may be asked to elaborate on what you have written on your application and in your covering letter.

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14 Open-ended questions that appear on a generic application form may revolve around these topics: Facing a challenge or complicated task Persuading or influencing others Working as a member of a team Leading a team or motivating others Arguing your case whilst overcoming objections of others Achieving a particular task or goal in a set period of time Is there a format for completing answers? Good answers will use the STAR format to cover the Situation, the Task (what you or the team had to do), your Action (what you contributed) and the Result (ideally a positive outcome and any lessons learned). You will often be given a maximum word count which should be used, if possible, as a guide. If a question allows 300 words, answering in 30 is not recommended, but you should also avoid adding statements just for the sake of it. Why am I applying for this job? This is a question that is likely to appear on an application form and will almost certainly be asked in an interview. Don t tell the employer what they already know about themselves or resort to flattery. Employers will be looking for in-depth and genuine reasons for applying and will expect you to have done detailed research on the role and company. Demonstrate why the post is the next logical step in your career progression and mention specific examples of why the job and the organisation interest you. Give examples of specific skills and experience you bring to the position and how they can benefit the company.

15 Quality Counts The purpose of the application form is to get you to the next stage of the recruitment process. Take your time and quality check everything you write. Make sure you articulate yourself clearly, accurately and concisely. Make sure it s grammatically correct without spelling mistakes. Never use text speak and always write in full sentences. Don t use unnecessary capital letters and avoid inappropriate use of lower case letters as it will make your application look too casual. Don t forget to save or print a copy of your completed application - you will need it to refer to if you re asked to attend an interview. For more information including sample CVs and Applications please visit Remember: Attend a workshop on interviews, several of which are offered by the PDC throughout the year.

16 More about the PDC: The Professional Development Centre is your one stop shop for advice, guidance and support when looking for work and planning your career. You can use our service from your first day at Brunel and for up to two years after you graduate. Jobs: part-time, vacation, internships, placement and graduate opportunities. Events: recruitment, employability skills and Careers Uncovered. Advice and feedback: CVs, applications, interviews and assessment centres. Guidance: career options and postgraduate study. Information available online

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