Careers and Employability: Summer Sessions; CV’s, interviews and using your summer wisely!

Are you applying for a graduate or part-time job and you need to update or re-design your CV? 

Are you a first or second year student wondering how best to make use of your summer, in order to develop your graduate profile?

Or have you secured an interview but would like to develop your interview technique?

The Careers and Employability Service will be running a series of sessions over the summer term focusing on these areas, plus workshops on the graduate recruitment cycle, Postgraduate support and what to do after your exams! Search for the opportunities here to book on!

CES Bitesize: CV’s

Are you starting to apply for graduate jobs, or maybe you are looking to gain a summer internship or part-time job? Either way, before hitting the submit button, it’s always a good idea to have your CV checked, in case improvements can be made which could make all the difference when being selected for interview.

On Wednesday 22 March, 13:00 – 13:30 in KLT6, the Careers & Employability Service are running a CV workshop, covering all the do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating a great CV!

Spaces are limited, so you must pre-book. Book to attend at 

Covering letter: useful tips and hints

Writing a covering letter may seem like a difficult and challenging task when applying for a job, however, it is one of the most important aspects when initially applying. You typically only get 30 seconds to grab the attention of an employer through your application, so you want to make a positive impact from the first page. A covering letter allows you to highlight your key skills in your CV, personalising your application and demonstrating why you are the ideal candidate for the role. Take a look at a few useful tips for creating a successful letter below, and some links for further information.

  • Keep your covering letter clear and concise, in an easy to read format. Your covering letter shouldn’t be longer than an A4 page, you want to grab the employer’s attention in the first few lines, as you would with your CV
  • Relate your skills to those in the job description, making sure you tailor the covering letter for each application. Explain why you are applying for this particular role, at this specific company
  • Check and double check your covering letter and CV for grammatical errors prior to submitting. Employers may be put off if your application consists of lots of grammar mistakes, especially if the role requires attention to detail!
  • Where possible, address your covering letter to a named individual, rather than using sir/madam
  • Research the company you are applying to, and include information about them in your covering letter, detailing what attracts you to work for them. This will demonstrate that you have taken the time to research their work, and you are enthusiastic to work for them, rather than just sending a generic letter.

If you need further advice, or you would like a staff member to look over your covering letter, the Careers and Employability Service Drop Ins (daily, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm in the Careers Building) are a great place to start, where qualified employability and careers advisers are on hand with support and advice.

Useful sites for further information:

How to cut down your CV

With the average time employers spend looking at a CV being a mere 3 minutes, you need to limit your CV to 1 – 1 ½ pages, otherwise you could risk your application being rejected because it is too long and unclear. However, this is easier said than done. If you have an abundance of work experience, achievements or voluntary work that you want to impress a potential employer with, deciphering which points to discount can be tricky. Below are a few tips to help you when cutting down your CV:

  • keep older roles concise, you only need to go into detail with your most recent work experience
  • use short bullet points to explain your duties in the work experience section of your CV
  • tailor your CV so you only include the skills which meet the criteria of the job, leave out any irrelevant details
  • avoid using clichés. It’s easy to fall into a cliché trap, using phrases such as ‘good communicator’ or ‘great team player’ but if you haven’t backed them up with clear examples they won’t have any substance. Make sure you explain why you are a good team player and how you can bring your skills to the job. Try using the acronym CAR when explaining a skill – context (what happened), action (what you did) and result (the outcome and what you achieved)
  • only include essential personal details on a CV, i.e. your full name, address and contact number/email. You do not need to include your date of birth or hobbies (unless relevant to the position)
  • leave references off your CV, you only need to state that they are available upon request
  • avoid putting the full address for your previous employers, you only need to include when you worked there, your job title and the name of the company.

CV and cover letter advice clinic – ask the experts

With the summer approaching, many of you maybe starting to draft, update or send off your CV’s. But with competition fierce, how do you know your CV is up to scratch?

If you are wondering what to include in your CV or you would like to know what recruiters are looking for, take part in the Guardians online ‘CV and cover letter advice clinic’ from 1pm – 3pm tomorrow. This will be a great opportunity to pick the brains of experts on all things CV related, getting an insight into what makes a great CV.

During the advice clinic, the experts will be discussing:

  • What to include in a CV and cover letter
  • Common CV and cover letter mistakes to avoid
  • How to make your application stand out
  • What recruiters are looking for in an application
  • How to make sure your job applications are successful

The Q&A takes place in the comments section below the article:

To take part create a free Guardian account, or log in using your Twitter or Facebook profiles to comment. Alternatively, you can tweet @GuardianCareers or email your questions to who can post them for you.