- Get them checked. Your educational institution has a careers department for a reason. Sometimes you just need the reassurance that your CV is in good shape, sometimes you need someone to help you start from scratch, whatever the case may be, take advantage of the help that is available.
- Keep them updated. It’s crazy how many people don’t regularly update their CVs. Don’t wait until the day before you start the application process to think about all of the work experience you’ve done over the past 3 years. I personally like to keep what I call a ‘long CV’; it’s not one I ever send out to companies, it’s just CV with all of the experience I have ever had, with all of my key skills, all achievements and projects. This means that not only will I never forget anything, I always have something to refer to if I need to construct a tailored CV.
- Have several tailored CVs. It’s good to have these handy for those times when the deadline creeps up ob you. For example, you may have one prepared for when you start to apply for banking internships as well as one for when you begin to apply for part time summer retail jobs. Every CV needs to be slightly different and if you have a ‘long CV’ at hand, they shouldn’t be that difficult to make; it’s simply just a matter of copying and pasting the relevant skills and experiences.
- Print it out. It’s always easier to view your CV from an employer’s perspective when you have a hard copy. Looking at it on the screen might make it easier/harder to read, and it’s good to know how well your CV might be accepted based on looks alone, first impressions do count!
- Find out what the company wants. For most career fields, a two-page CV is widely accepted, but in some cases, for example in the Finance industry, a one-page CV is highly preferred. Be sure to find out what it is they want early on.
- Keep it concise. Nobody, including yourself (let’s be honest here) wants to read a novel. Mention the role, how you found out about it, raise any key past experiences, be enthusiastic and most importantly refer to your CV. If there is any vital information that you haven’t included on your CV, this is the place to discuss it, but this is not CV #2 so don’t blab, think of it more as an introduction to your CV.
- Be job specific! No two cover letters should be the same, they shouldn’t even be similar. This is where research comes in. Express what it is you love about the firm and how you would fit in. Make sure you mention their name- the correct name!!!
- Try and name drop. This is where networking comes in useful, it’s always a plus to show that you have a strong interest in the company by hinting that you have spoken to a current employee.
- Skills. People often make the mistake of leaving their skills in the CV and never talking about them again. Pay close attention to the job description or mission statement of the company, key skills like ‘teamwork’ and ‘organisation’ tend to come up a lot, so make sure you are addressing these directly in your cover letter.
- Be yourself! Try to let your personality shine through as much as you can. Ultimately they want to hire someone they think will fit into the work environment, jot just a set of skills.
I hope this was helpful! Some helpful websites for structure, rules and examples are listed below.
Examples of Good and Bad CVs- Kent University
Example CVs – Prospects
CV & Cover Letter Builder- National Careers Service
Cover Letter Template- Reed
Covering Letter Examples- The Guardian
Cover Letter Examples- Monster
***I’m not a recruitment expert by any means, just sharing some tips based on my experiences. 🙂