Are you a fresh graduate?
Below are some tips on how to get your career off to a flying start.
The Covering Letter
Always make sure that you address you covering letter to the right person. This can be found out with a quick phone call. If there is no clear single person that it must be sent to, at least get the correct department. During the phone call to find out the correct recipient, take the opportunity to ask more about the position. The information that you gather here will give you a better understanding of the job and provide you with more ammunition for the content of you application.
In general, do not make your letter more than an A4 page in length. Try to be concise and do not repeat content that is contained within the CV itself. Lastly, always check the spelling before submitting your application.
Content of Covering Letter
Introduction: If the vacancy you are applying for had a reference number then clearly state it, along with the job title. Explain where and when you saw the vacancy advertised.
Main Body: This is where you will have to sell yourself. Identify and point out some of your key assets that would fit the requirements sought by the employer. Always keep referring back to the advertisement.
Don't conceal your strengths and skills in reams of text. Keep the whole thing concise and to the point. If it makes it easier, bullet point some punchy paragraphs to make your attributes clear to the reader.
Do not just repeat the content of your CV, just give away enough to make the recruiter want to read your CV straight after the letter. Write with a style that purveys an attitude of moderate confidence.
Make it clear that you have some knowledge of the company you are applying to. This will show the reader that you have done some homework. Refer to event or accomplishment they have been involved in. Anything to make it clear that you have made an effort.
Conclusion: Conclude the letter by summarizing your interest in the vacancy and how well you fit the job description. Let them know of any availability restrictions for the interview and finish in a slightly assuming and optimistic manner.
Writing the CV
The content of your CV should be an account of your achievements, qualifications and any previous employment. It should be kept up to date at all times. A good CV will sell it's owner and not get them the job, but get them an interview.
The CV should be word processed or at least typed. It should be on white paper and not written in an abstract font or style. Keep the font size at about 12.
As with the covering letter, the CV's spelling and grammar should always be checked.
One CV is sometimes not enough to apply for many positions. If your are making multiple applications to different employers, then it is sensible to slightly tailor each one towards the intended recipient and the vacancy they have on offer.
Always be honest with the information you include. Do not make up events or qualifications. If these errors are found out at a later date, then it could result in your dismissal from the position you have worked so hard to get.
Use confident language within your CV. Take advantage of words which give an impression of success, e.g. excelled, achieved, or surpassed. As always keep your sentences punchy and concise. Don't be afraid of using bullet points as they make the CV easier to read for the employer.
The structure of the CV should run as follows:
The First Page
This should contain your personal details such as name, address, home and work telephone numbers, e-mail address, education and qualifications and a brief general overview of your skills, experience and the nature of work sought. Please include your geographical preferences, availability and preferred locations of work if you are applying to an agency.
Here you should highlight your employment history. Present this in reverse chronological order (i.e. last job first). If you have worked for only one company, break it down with an entry for each position held or projects dealt with. For each position held, describe the responsibilities. If you have never had employment before, don't worry. Include details of other things, for example, what you did and where you took a year out. You may have been a member of a society or held a sabbatical position at university. Include achievements, not just tasks. All of these things will help your future employer to build a picture of the sort of person you are, whether you interact well with others or if you are independent or adventurous. Add anything that will paint you in a good light, although keep it concise as you will have plenty of opportunity to elaborate in the interview.
List your hobbies and interests in no more than three lines if they are relevant. Any voluntary, charity or external posts you have held.
References: It is recommended that two referees be given - including the referees' official titles, addresses and telephone numbers.