First Impressions: Your CV & Covering Letter

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression”

(Will Rogers)

When looking for a new job, never have truer words been spoken. Did you know that Recruiters will spend between 5 and 7 seconds viewing your CV before they make a decision about your suitability for a role?

With your CV as the key to the door to the next step in your career, here a few pointers for making sure that it doesn’t break in the lock...!

Know what your Employer is looking for:

  • They want to know that you have the essential qualifications and skills to do the job. Make sure that this is crystal clear on your CV. Pick out the keywords from the job advert and make sure your CV includes them.
  • They want to see that you’re positive about yourself – hard-working, reliable, proactive – don’t be negative about yourself or any previous jobs.
  • Make sure you include specific and measurable achievements for every role.
  • Include your career objectives – make sure that they are in line with the role you’re applying for.

Structuring your CV:

In the current economic climate, competition for jobs can be rife – recruiters have reported receiving up to 250 CVs per position. With that in mind, your CV needs to be in a clear and concise format:

  • No more than 2 sides of good quality A4 paper and use simple fonts. Your CV may be extended if you need to include qualifications that are relevant to the job.
  • Make sure you include your contact details.
  • Work in reverse chronological order.
  • Account for all gaps in employment.
  • Use spell check and ask a friend to proof read it.
  • Don’t include photos.
  • Make sure your email is address is professional and always provide an email address you are able to check on a regular basis – recruiters will often communicate via email rather than over the phone.

If you decide to approach companies directly, your CV should be accompanied by a covering letter:

  • Always address your letter to a named person – not the “HR Manager”. That way you have a person to follow up with and there is less chance of your CV getting lost in the post. If you don’t have this information to hand, think about how you can get it. Make a call to head office to find out or have a look on LinkedIn.
  • It doesn’t need to be any longer than 4 or 5 paragraphs, including why you are suitable for a role and mentioning your key skills and experience.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the industry and include why you are interested in working for the company - setting you apart from other candidates.
  • A covering letter is also the chance to position your current situation. Maybe you are available for an immediate start, which could be a real positive if this is an urgent vacancy? 

Best of luck with your job search. Stay tuned for my next blog, which will talk about preparing for the next step… the interview!

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