CVs and cover letters

A CV (curriculum vitae) is a short list of facts about your education, work history, skills and experience. A good CV is essential when looking for work and it is worth taking the time to get it right so you can sell yourself to an employer.

Creating a new CV

Use your CV to make the most of yourself and your achievements. It is often the first contact you will have with an employer.

How you present your CV is up to you. Use the online CV builder to create, edit, download and print a CV, or follow the tips below to create a good and professional impression.

If you are accessing the CV Builder Tool on a public device, make sure you delete any personal information from the system when you have finished working on it. Check with the device provider if you’re unsure how to do it.

You may also follow the tips below to help you create a good and professional CV.

Presenting your CV

  • print your CV on good-quality, white A4 paper, in a clear font
  • put your name at the top of the page – not curriculum vitae or CV
  • include your address, telephone number and email address at the top
  • show your career history to date , including work experience and employment history
  • present the content clearly and concisely, making it easy to read and understand
  • use positive language
  • aim for no more than  two pages
  • ask someone to proofread it to check your spelling and grammar

You do not need to put your date of birth, age, or salary on your CV.

Always put your most recent job first and remember to include dates. Avoid gaps between dates. Even if you weren't in paid employment refer to voluntary work or other experiences that added to your skills set.

If you’ve had lots of different roles, you may not be able to include everything, so prioritise your most recent and relevant details. Compress earlier roles into short descriptions or just include job titles and highlight the skills and experience you gained across those jobs (such as skills in dealing with customers or communication skills).

If you don't have much work experience, then you can include details of temporary, holiday, part-time or voluntary work. .

What to include in your CV

Below are some examples of what you may want to include in your CV:

A personal profile

A personal profile is a short statement at the beginning of your CV used to sell yourself and to show your skills, experience and personal qualities. You can include positive words such as 'can', 'adaptable', and 'conscientious'. Tailor the statement to the requirements of each job that you apply for, to show the employer that you're the right person for the job.

Skills and strengths

Highlight your skills and strengths. A skill is something you gain with education and experience, a strength is something you are naturally good at. Tailor these to match the requirements of the job you are applying for.

If language skills are important for the job you are applying for, then you need to complete the Europass Language Passport and attach it to your CV.

If the job you are applying for is different from work which  you have previously done, then explain why you are interested in applying for this  new type of work.

Qualifications and training

Include qualifications you got from school or college as well as any qualifications and training from previous jobs (such as training in health and safety or a certificate in food hygiene). Put your most recent qualifications first.

Interests

Your hobbies and leisure activities can help support your application if they highlight responsibilities and skills that are relevant to the job you're applying for, such as organising activities for a  a club you belong to, or using leadership skills or teamwork as part of an activity.

References

You don’t have to include references in your CV but you should state at the end of your CV that references are available.

It's good to have two or more people who can provide a work or personal reference. Ideally, one should be your most recent employer but if you haven't worked for a while it could be someone who has known you for a long time who can comment on your work skills and qualities.

You should ask the referees to agree to this beforehand.

Using your CV

You can send your CV to a company with a covering letter or email asking if they have any current or future vacancies. You can find names and addresses of companies on the internet, in newspapers, or in trade or telephone directories.

You can use your CV to help you remember all the dates and information each time you fill in an application form, apply for a job by phone or before a job interview. You can also leave a copy with the interviewer(s) if they do not already have one.

Recruitment/employment agencies usually ask to see your CV before you register with them.

Covering letter for your CV

It is good manners and professional courtesy to enclose a covering letter with your CV, giving the job reference and repeating your contact details.

While your CV gives the facts about your employment, the covering letter might explain why you are interested in the job and why it's just right for you. You must try to give the prospective employer a reason to want to read your CV.

Keep it short and to the point, one A4 page is preferable.

If you have a contact name write ‘Dear Mr Jones’ and end with ‘Yours sincerely’. If you don’t have a contact name write ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ and end with ‘Yours faithfully’.

State what the vacancy is and how you heard about it, for example, ‘With reference to your advertisement in the Daily News on 2 May'.

List the skills you have that are relevant to the job. If the advert mentions motivation give an example to show how you’re motivated. Give real-life experiences or personal qualities which could make you stand out from other candidates.

Sign your name clearly. Check your spelling and grammar and make sure your letter is set out clearly and logically. Ask someone else to check it over for you.

Enclose your CV with the letter or attach it if sending it by email.

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