Many job applications fall at the first hurdle with a poorly worded covering letter or email, that has spelling mistakes or other errors. Even the best CV is likely to be overlooked if a covering letter is poor.
A covering letter or email is a representation of you, so it should help to bring out your best qualities. Here are some basic considerations:
- If you are posting a letter, always use good quality paper and make sure your printing is clear. Replace your ink cartridge if the type is starting to break-up.
- Always head letters or emails with the title and or reference number of the position you are applying for.
- Covering communications should generally be concise and to the point.
- Address letters personally where at all possible with a name. You may need to telephone to get contact names in some instances. Always check the name spelling carefully.
- Do not use over elaborate type faces in either emails or letters. 12-point Arial or Times Roman are generally most appropriate spaced at 1.5 lines if possible.
- Always check your spelling and grammar carefully. Use a spellchecker but also print off and check manually. Get someone else to double check, or if this is not possible, leave the letter for an hour or so and check it again carefully once its content is not so fresh in your mind.
- Refer to the advert or job description in your letter demonstrating how you meet the required criteria.
- Make your cover letter sound enthusiastic.
- Provide suitable contact details at the head or foot of the communication, in terms of telephone and email and remember to make sure these are suitably confidential.
- Thank the potential employer for considering your application and say that your look forward to hearing from them.
The second hurdle in getting a job is the CV. This vital document provides a prospective employer with a brief snap shot of what you have to offer, so good construction and presentation is vital and will be the difference between getting an interview or a rejection.
Remember prospective employers will often be dealing with multiple applications, so your CV has to make a good impression and do so fast as they will usually spend no more than thirty seconds before making a decision.
Here are some basic tips on formulating a CV that will get results:
Keep these brief and to the point making sure to include suitable confidential contact details.
Use reverse chronological order, with your most recent position first. For each position list start and finish date, your job title, the position of the person you reported to. Include the company name and brief description of their activities and franchises or brands where appropriate. Then provide brief information on your main responsibilities, duties and skills and significant job achievements. Also mention any training undertaken that may be of interest to the prospective employer.
Provide briefer details of each post the further back they date. Be as honest as possible with all employment dates.
You do not need to include any salary information with regard to positions you have held, or any reference details at this stage.
Education & Qualifications
Detail your education and qualification also in reverse chronological order. Include dates and names and locations of establishments attended. Try to place greater emphasis on the qualifications that you feel may be important for this post.
Interests and Achievements
List your personal interests, hobbies and any notable out of work achievements concisely. Try to make these relevant to the position where appropriate.
- Allow plenty of time to create and adapt a CV before an application. Once you have completed the first draft, leave it for a few hours or even a day before going back to improve on it. If possible change and adapt your CV depending on the type of position you are applying for and the type of company it is.
- You may wish to include a summary or overview of what you have achieved to-date and what you are now looking to do and why, on the first page.
- Your CV should be clear and concise, generally never more than three pages.
- Make good use of headings and bullet points to avoid too much off-putting text.
- Keep content concise, relevant and to the point.
- Keep the content factual and positive.
- Make sure your CV is error free. Spell check it, print off and manually check it and have someone else check it for errors.
- Use standard fonts in a 10-14 point type size. Print on good quality paper or if emailing use a PDF format so that the set structure remains in place.
- If you are not confident about presentation, ask someone else for assistance and advice or pay for a professional service.