Cover Letters/Applying for roles on-line
Cover letters and on-line applications should be customised for each job opportunity. Typically cover letters are one-page in length and include a paragraph that explains why you feel you are a good fit for the position. This is usually done by highlighting specific career accomplishments, educational credentials, and/or technical skills that are relevant to the role. Do not forget to look at the hiring company’s website and refer to why you might be a good fit in terms of their culture and values.
Your cover letter can be the difference between your CV being read or not, or it can actually address questions that an employer may have upon an initial scan of your CV.
Bonus tip: Address your cover letter to an actual person, using the hiring manager’s name if you can. Avoid using ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or ‘To whom it may concern’.
The CV is usually the first opportunity an employer will have to find about you and your skill set and what you have to offer. You must use it to SELL yourself.
Length: Two to three pages maximum. Anything longer will not be read.
Layout: The layout should be easy on the eye. Do not use exceptionally small fonts to cram more information in. Leave space around the text, this has the effect of drawing the reader in.
Format: The following sections are logical sequences of information. The detail should start with the present. Try to keep all the information objective, concise and to the point using short sentences.
Talk positively about your achievements using ‘I’ not ‘we’.
- Personal Statement – Your CV should begin with your name and then a short personal statement setting out your key skills and attributes. More and more employers are selecting on the basis of the skills and attributes that are necessary in order to be effective in the role. Irrespective of the length or breadth of experience, can the person ‘do the job’?
Your personal statement should be an affirmation of you as a professional. It will be the first thing the employer will read. Use words like ‘I’, and be positive. For example, “I am an effective team-player” sounds more positive and confident than “I like working as a member of a team”.
- Your current job – This should be in a separate section on its own rather than included in your ‘Employment History’ section.
Your current or most recent experience will usually be the most relevant to the employer.
They will want to know what your duties and responsibilities are, or were. You should not assume that the job title says it all. Words like ‘coordinator’, ‘manager’ or ‘director’ are used in many different contexts and can mean very different things.
You should set out your key personal achievements in the role. What have you personally done? Include things like:
- income targets,
- amounts raised
- budgets managed
- staff managed
- policies developed
- changes implemented
- project management
Simply setting out the scope of the role will not highlight your personal contribution. What value have you added? How have you made a difference?
- Employment history – Begin with the most recent and work backwards.
Do not provide substantial detail about jobs that are not relevant to the role, or roles, you are now applying for. The employer is not likely to be interested in temporary or casual jobs you have held a long time ago.
Your employment history should demonstrate consistency and progression. If you have held a number of different positions in different organisations and different sectors, it may be useful to include the reasons why you made these career choices.
Include the key facts, summarise the key responsibilities and your personal achievements.
- Professional qualifications, professional memberships, and training – These will be of more interest to an employer in the first instance – more so than academic qualifications.
Include any other relevant professional training that you have completed.
- Other skills – This section allows you to expand in a little more detail on other skills you may have, for example, IT. List the IT systems you have experience of. It can be useful to state whether you are an advanced user of particular software programmes or are commonly used in the sector, for example, database software.
If you have a driving licence or languages, include it here.
- Academic qualifications – If you have a degree or any postgraduate qualifications, simply state the subject, the awarding institution and the date. Providing the grade is optional.
There is no need to include the full address of the institution. It simply takes up space.
List the details of academic qualifications gained prior to degree level, name the institution/school, location and date.
- Personal interests – Think carefully about what your personal interests say about you before writing a list of things you like doing. If they do not add to the ‘picture’ of you, why include them?
- Your contact details – including email addresses and mobile phone.
Never falsify information, or give any misleading information to an employer under any circumstances whatever.