Careers Part 2: Top Tips for Writing CVs and Covering Letters


Katharine Landale from Bold New World, shares with us her in-depth knowledge of how to write the perfect CV to win your dream job

In part 1 we talked about getting yourself ‘Business Ready’ whether returning to work or rethinking a career. Ensuring you had a master CV, that you have thought of the direction you would like to travel and most importantly the time you are able to work. It may be you have decided to find a full time returner programme or are just looking for new role for a few hours a week. Whatever it is, as long as it is realistic, you have achieved a significant amount already.

It’s also important to remember that most large organisations know that the quality of candidates who are reengaging are excellent; the fresh pair of eyes, experience, enthusiasm, reliability and maturity. And this applies to men as well as women.

So, what’s next? You have found a role you would like to apply for. Maybe you have found it online, talked to a friend, or are approaching a company you would like to be involved with. You now need to adapt your CV.

“Your CV is your movie trailer – not the movie. Employers should become excited about seeing the full length film”

Read the job description several times and note down exactly the qualities and experience they are looking for.  This is so important, so please spend time working out how to present yourself and use this again and again in your CV, covering letter and interview. Put yourself in your employer’s position and make it easy for them to see you are perfect for their role. Use similar words to theirs all the time.

The CV

Practicing what we preach, points for your CV are bulleted below. See how much they are easier to read than long paragraphs.

The main CV you created earlier should have included everything you have been involved with no matter how small. This should never be sent out and only adapted for each job application.

Each new CV therefore should be:

  • Interesting, clear and BRIEF, no more than two sides at most.
  • Printed on clean white paper and should not be folded (post it in an A4 envelope).
  • Fonts should not be smaller than 10 pt
  • Use stylisation (bold, underline and italics), but avoid complicated formatting
  • Break it all up into sections, it is much easier to read
  • Does it pass the six second scan?
  • Would you hire yourself?

Layout:

  • Put your name as the first heading and use qualifications after your name if you have them. Do not put Curriculum Vitae, some companies use ATS to read multiple CVs and they will therefore think this is what you are called.
  • Remember your contact details, but only a telephone number and business/smart email.
  • You do not need to list your age, DOB, gender, marital status, or whether you have children and/or a dog. Please don’t include a photograph either.

Personal statement:

  • A marmite subject, I like them if written well, are a max of five lines, have brief sentences or bullets and contain skills relevant to the role you are applying for. Pack a punch here and delete anything generic.
  • Less is more…

Chronological career history:

  • As a steer, head each in bold with roles on the left, company in the middle, dates on the right. A reminder of the six second rule. Can you scan it quickly?
  • Roles in reverse order (most recent at the top) with up-to five bullet points for each, less if possible.
  • Highlight successes, a project, negotiation etc, or just kept the show on the road in difficult times. Using examples is extremely powerful. Be as brief as possible. Employers do not like reams of text, it is also very difficult to digest.

Career break

  • Include everything you have achieved during this time and this is very important, highlight skills you have used/learnt that translate to the role you are applying for. Words like developed, organised, achieved, implemented, led are very upbeat.
  • Please don’t apologise for your career break, put it as a section and if you are returning, say something like ‘following a planned career break, I am now looking for/to resume my career, in marketing etc..…’ 

Charitable work and volunteering

  • Make the most of this briefly as another section and if possible have someone you have volunteered with as a referee.

Interests

  • As usual list anything out of the ordinary is excellent.

References

  • Generally put ‘On Request’. However, there may be instances where it is useful to list them. Please make sure you have sought permission from all your referees before giving out their details.
  • Then proofread again and again and then ask someone else to read it through too.

Covering Letter

  • Less is more.
  • This is the trailer to the movie trailer, highlight only why you can do the job.

Bold New World is a bespoke on-line recruitment platform listing wonderful jobs and charitable opportunities. Promoting and providing an umbrella for Returners, Rethinkers, Rebalancers and Retirers, we only list jobs we would take on ourselves. Visit their website to set up alerts and apply for some great new roles.

 

For a great range of brilliant available jobs the School Notices Jobs Board also has some wonderful opportunities to browse through



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