CV’s and Job Applications Careers Advice

Your CV is a sales document and you need to ensure your key selling points stand out and every time you apply for a job you need to make sure that your CV is tailored to what that employer is looking for.


On average an employer takes around 30 seconds to read a CV, so you need to create a CV that will have a quick impact. You can do this by targeting your CV to an employer or sector: they will read it looking for the best match.



1. Gather together relevant information. For a specific vacancy, use the job description and person specification you have been given.


2. Otherwise, research the type of occupation you are looking for and skills and qualities required to do the job on the National Careers Service job profiles site.


3. Use the employer’s website to get a ‘feel’ for the company and the type of person they may be looking for. Write down some key words that they use. You can include these in your CV.


4. Now you have a list of skills, experience and qualities the employer is looking for. What skills and qualities do you have that make you a suitable candidate for this employer? List evidence from your course, work experience, part time jobs, hobbies and volunteering.


5. Use positive words.


6. Decide on a suitable layout for your CV.


7. Check your CV for errors and get others to help.


8. Use good quality paper.


9. Always send your CV with a covering letter which should explain why you are applying for the post and introduce your CV.



1. Do not write CV at the top. Use your name as a heading instead.


2. Your CV should not be longer than 2 pages.


3. Do keep your CV free of clutter.

4. Do keep the format and headings consistent


5. Don’t hide your important or relevant experience on the second page.


6. Do not lie or exaggerate about experience as you will be asked about this in an interview.


7. Choose your font carefully – How easy is it to read? Try different fonts and print it off and get your family to read it.


8. Do make sure your contact details are accurate, and avoid comic email addresses and voicemail messages.


9. Always put your most recent qualifications, job or work experience first.



You can use a CV builder and they will also help you complete the sections and also suggest formatting and layout. Also check out The Library which also has lots of books in the Careers section on writing CVs and applying for jobs.



Your covering letter is the first thing an employer sees when you apply for a job. The employer will read it and judge your suitability for the job. Speculative applications i.e. sending a good covering letter with a targeted CV to relevant employers can be really effective way of convincing an employer to create an opportunity for you. So what should you include in a covering letter?


What to include in a cover letter

Write it in a traditional letter format and remember to include your contact details, including your phone numbers and email.


Find the name of the person who you need to write to.

  • There is a good chance that a dear sir/ madam letter could end up with the wrong person or in the bin.
  • Phone first to check the name of the person who deals with the recruitment of X staff.
  • Either address them as Dear Mr Smith or Dear John Smith. Keep it formal.
  • If it is a small business you may phone straight through to the owner/manager, so be prepared to sell yourself on the phone.


Introduce yourself

Start by introducing yourself and say something about why you’re writing to them, including where you found out about the vacancy or simply found out about them as an employer.


Tell them why you picked them – identify how well your skills match the vacancy

Mention a couple of your key selling points and explain how these link to the job but do not include details in too much depth, the CV or application form is the place for this.


Tell the employer why they should pick you

Find out about the employer by looking on their website or by reading about them in online business directories and newspapers. Check it is positive and make it clear what you are asking for.


Show good manners

Say thank you to the employer for taking the time to read the letter.


Proof read and spell check the letter carefully

Presentation is of vital importance. Keep the same font as in the CV/ application form. Check spelling and grammar.


Useful links

Aimee is a successful careers consultant and successful recruiter for business. Her video tips for CVs, covering letters and interviews are all really up to date.



Application forms may be paper-based or online. If you are completing an application form for a job, then the accompanying information will tell you what the employer is looking for.


Completing an Application Form

1. Gather together all relevant information about the opportunity and organisation – see Targeting Your CV.


2. Read any documents you have been sent
Take a coloured highlighter and highlight the key skills, qualities and experience required and then create a structure based on these. Remember there is no rule to say that you can’t use the words they use in their information in your application form, as long as you provide evidence.


3. Do a draft application first
Photocopy the application form, or create and save a draft document if filling in an online form. Follow the instructions (use black ink, etc) and answer all the questions.


4. Fill the boxes provided on the form
Complete the boxes very carefully: good answers are essential if you want to be invited for interview. You should fill the space provided or use the word limit if one is given, to really ‘sell’ yourself.


5. Focus on the evidence-based questions
You may be asked to describe situations where you have demonstrated specific skills, or you may simply be given a page to write about why you are suitable for the job. If this is the case make sure you include a paragraph about why you are applying for this job.


6. Check through the application form carefully
Get someone else to check it too! Errors in the application form could mean it is rejected without even being read through to the end.


7. Keep a copy of your final version
It will be a useful reference for future applications and you will need to review it if you are invited for interview.


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