CVs and Cover Letters
The CV is how you advertise yourself to prospective employers. The employer's decision to call you for an interview is based on your experience and how you present yourself. Therefore, it is important that your CV is informative and professional. You can include more information than a resumé, e.g. project work, skills and achievements.
There are no strict rules for the layout of a CV, but CVs tend to include the following sections:
Name, Address, Telephone Number, Email Address
Focus mainly on recent qualifications, give the expected full title of your degree, show the structure and time frame of the course, give your overall results, mention the final year thesis if its subject matter is relevant to the job, showing the general skills gained from its production. Give a brief summary of your Leaving Certificate results but leave out your Junior Certificate results.
Give a brief description of any relevant project work you have completed, particularly your final year project. List the title, your aim and objective, the process, methodology and specific techniques used, and your findings and recommendations.
You should include all your previous work experience, including work placements, summer jobs, voluntary work, any permanent or part time work. Describe the duties of the work and the relevant skills you have gained from it. Remember that even if your previous work experience is totally unconnected to the job you are applying for, you can use it to demonstrate your skills, qualities and motivations.
Avoid a straight listing of your interests. Instead show whatever skills or qualities you have developed. Mention any positions of responsibility you have held in clubs and societies. Employers often look for evidence of personal qualities in this section.
Include in this section those skills that you have acquired which you haven't mentioned already but which increase your worth to the prospective employer e.g. foreign languages, computer and keyboard skills, driving license etc.
Include both significant academic and extra-curricular achievements in this section.
Include the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses of two referees, one academic and one from your work experience. Always ask their permission first.
TOP TIP! As with application forms it is important that you are positive, specific and relevant in the information you provide. A CV should always be accompanied by a covering letter.
It s important to make the CV your own. Don't simply copy phrases from sample CVs.
How to write a Cover Letter
The cover letter is your chance to stand out from the other candidates by being persuasive and convincing in your arguments. It is worthwhile, therefore, to spend some time thinking about how best to present yourself so that the employer will be more likely to take your CV/application seriously. Address by name if you can e.g. "Dear Ms Fletcher and" conclude with "Yours sincerely". If you have no name, place a telephone call to the organisation, find out the Recruitment Manager's name and address your cover letter/email to them.
What your Cover Letter should include
Identify who you are and explain why you are writing (saw advertisement online or in paper, speculatively,: ), and mention the fact that your CV is enclosed.
Continue by detailing why you are interested in the job and the employer, your relevant project work and work experience and what skills and qualities you will bring with you to the company.
Outline your current situation.
Say why they should be interested in you and emphasise your main 'selling points'.
Conclude on a polite and optimistic note, saying that you look forward to their response and that you are available for an interview at their convenience.
Below are some general hints to bear in mind when created either a CV, a Cover Letter or an Application form.
- Ensure you use good grammar and proper spellings - don't rely on a spellchecker and don't use americanised spellings when applying to European companies (e.g. use realise, not realize; use programme, not program!).
- The letter should be an appropriate length. One side of one A4 is usually sufficient.
- Do not simply repeat the information that is already on your CV. Highlight and expand on the relevant items.
- Be positive.
- When making application to specific companies, check if they have a careers section on their website - many will provide their own advice on CVs. You should, of course, thoroughly research a particular company's website upon making an application to them.