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CVs, Cover Letters and Applying
Writing a CV
- A CV (or resume) is meant to show how your life has evolved, from the perspective of an employee. Outside skills can also be highlighted, but with the objective to complement your skills that would apply to a desired position.
- When Writing the CV, keep things succinct and to-the-point. If it is too long, and employer will likely be inclined to skip over key points and just graze the pages.
- A good length is about 2 A4 Pages, or slightly longer given the extensiveness of your education and/or experience.
- If you don’t have a lot of experience or are a recent college grad, it is a good idea to start with your education, followed by your work experience.
- Grammar and Spelling This should go without saying, as it will make a definite impression. Even if your experience and education looks great on paper, its significance will be overcast by bad grammar in a matter of seconds. Make sure to thoroughly proof the CV and get it checked by a at least one other person. When writing explanations, shy away from using passive verbs and implement strong, positive and active verbs or nouns.
- Layout, Presentation & Style Your best and most pronounced skills should be placed near the top of the CV, as it is more likely to get seen. Presentation and Style should be neat, minimal and pleasing to the eye. Font choice can play a large role, as well as spacing and sizing. A good choice of font could be Verdana or Cambria, or similar neat and professional alternatives.
What to Include in the CV
- Contact Details Address and phone number, as well as e-mail (and potentially a personal web page) should be placed at the top of the CV, in the heading.
- Personal Profile The personal profile is not required, but can surely add to your CV and fill in some gaps that may have been left out. This should be a short blurb (about 150-250 words), and should give a very brief overview of your goals, motivations and key attributes. This should be targeted to the job sector that you are applying to.
- Education Dates and degree obtained, listed from most recent to least recent. A short explanation of the degree as well as grade summary wouldn’t hurt.
- Work Experience Your experience should be listed, with the most recent and relevant job first. Make sure to also list internships or voluntary roles in this section. Below each experience listing, add a brief description of the role and main tasks that you were in charge of.
- Referees A few people who can vouch for your previous experience and positive contributions. Make sure to only list those who have agreed to be listed.
- Skills Add all relevant skills in a bullet-format, grouped by the type of skill. These include such skills as ability to work in a team, management skills and business skills, as well as specific skill-sets, such as computer skills, computer languages and so on. Language skills can also be listed here, or in a separate section (depending on how many spoken languages you know).
- Hobbies This is optional, but could be interesting for the reader, particularly if the hobbies are applicable to how you interact with others and the outside world.
- Cover letters should always be included with a CV, unless explicitly instructed not to. A cover letter gives you the chance to shine, filling in any empty gaps that were left out of the CV, and also exhibit your motivation and interest in the job, as well as company.
- Cover letters should be brief, but memorable. They should exhibit your motivation for the job and why you are a suitable candidate.
- The general structure of a cover letter can be broken into 3 main parts: First Paragraph, Middle Section and Last Paragraph.
- The first paragraph should be an opener, with an impacting opening statement, the position you are applying to, and your availability to begin working.
- The middle section will be the meat of your Cover Letter, exhibiting why you are right for the job, your motivation for it, the assets you can bring to the company and the application of your past skills & experience. This section should take up one or two paragraphs.
- The last paragraph should give a brief summary of the letter, ending with a memorable closing statement. You should finally thank the reviewer for her time and mention your excitement to hear back.
- Always address the cover letter to the contact person listed in the job description. If no contact is given, try to do some investigative work by visiting the company’s website, as it’s always better to list a particular individual.
- If you have large gaps in your CV, you should also explain this in your cover letter.
- Always frame the cover letter to exhibit your skills and how the apply (both directly and indirectly) to the job in question!
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