Your first impression with a prospective employer will often entirely dictate how your relationship with them plays out. Therefore, as the first documents employers and recruitment agents are likely to see, getting your CV and your covering letters right is absolutely vital.
The Best Version of You
Your CV and covering letter establish who you are to a prospective employer. As such, it is clearly important that these documents present what might be called ‘the best version of you.’ This is to say that your CV and covering letter should be the most accomplished, polished, and considered presentation of your skills, experience, knowledge and abilities you can make them.
It is very easy to get hung up on the layout of and style of your CV, and while the presentation of your CV should be approached carefully, the content is far more important. Your ability to think critically about your past experiences and skills is all-important here – that job you had for six months in a shop taught you more than you think, and you will need to be able to make clear how that experience makes you suited for the job you’re applying for.
It’s also worth pointing out that you should tailor your CV to every job you apply for. Keeping a default CV on hand is good practice, but one employer will likely want to see a different set of skills from another. It is incumbent on you to emphasise the aspects of your experience that most fit the job description and organisation you are applying for.
There is a lot more to think about when you come to write a CV and covering letters, but the good news is that you have plenty of time to draft and hone them. There are sessions throughout the year which you can go along to; an abundance of resources online and in print over at the CES building; and, of course, you can always book a time to speak to an Employability Advisor. You are strongly encouraged to make use of all of these services and resources to crack this particular employability skill.
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of guides and templates out there to help you hone your CVs and covering letters. Below are just a few of those recommended by the Careers and Employability Service.
- CES website – CVs and Covering Letters
- The CES’s own advice on CVs and covering letters should be your first stop when drafting either document. As well as standard advice, there is an FAQ, a detailed checklist for what to include and how to frame your CV, examples of CVs and covering letters, and a template structure you could use for your first covering letter.
- Top 10 CV tips and Top 10 covering letter tips
- If you only have a few minutes, these are for you! Exactly as they say on the tin, these twenty tips are the key things to think about when putting together a CV and drafting a covering letter.
- Video CVs
- Some companies, and indeed some graduates, have started using video CVs, rather than the the more traditional versions. While a lot of the same advice will apply, the different medium comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. This list of tips will be of use if you are thinking about making a video CV.
Prospects.ac.uk is one of the top graduate employment vacancy services in the UK. In addition to their job listings, there is a wealth of careers advice, including tips on CVs and covering letters, mistakes to avoid, and examples of good practice.
You are also strongly encouraged to take advantage of the training and advice on hand at the University; the Employability Advisers in the CES regularly hold workshops and training sessions on crafting a good CV, and writing an engaging covering letter. Keep an eye on the School and CES events calendars for these events.
You can also take your CV, covering letter, and any other job applications or other documents along to a drop-in session with the CES advisors; see their website for more details about these.