CVs & Covering Letters Looking to make the right impression? Sponsored by:
Covering letter Your CV should be accompanied by a one-page letter, unless the employer tells you otherwise. The covering letter should highlight the important parts of your CV and make them want to read on. It is vital that your letter creates a good impression and is written and set out professionally. For more information on writing covering letters, go to www.ncl.ac.uk/careers/jobs/applications
Your full address Don’t forget postcode! Name of person Job title Name of organisation Full address Don’t forget postcode!
Address it to the correct person and get the name and job title right
Dear Mr/Ms – use title and surname only. If the name isn’t given, do your research to find out who this is. If you are unable to find the name of the person, use ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Introduction – briefly explain what you are doing now and why you are writing. Mention that you have enclosed your CV. If the job/placement was advertised, include where and when you saw it advertised. If you are applying speculatively, be as specific as possible about what you are looking for. Why you? – give reasons why the organisation should consider you. What have you got to offer them? Talk about any relevant experience, knowledge and skills and discuss why you think you could make a contribution. Pull together key selling points from your CV that The order of demonstrate you have what they are looking for. This should be a concise these paragraphs summary with specific examples. is up to you Why this job and why them? – explain why you want to work in this role and for this organisation specifically. Consider their ethos, product, culture, clients, projects, contact with people who work there. Show that you have researched the organisation and understand what the job entails. Don’t just repeat what you have read on their website! Any other points if applicable – e.g. disclosing a disability or explaining the circumstances of disappointing academic grades. Come and talk to us if you have concerns about these or other issues. Sign off – finish in a polite and friendly way, perhaps saying when you would be available for interview. Yours sincerely – Use ‘Yours faithfully’ when writing to ‘Sir/Madam’ Your name – If posting your letter, don’t forget to sign it by hand!
CV for part-time jobs CVs for part-time/casual work are slightly different from graduate level CVs. However, they should still be brief, targeted and relevant to the post applied for. Your CV should be no more than two pages in length.
Your name Full term-time address Telephone/mobile number Email address
Keep it brief and specific - one or two sentences only
Profile (optional) Only include a profile if it really adds something to your CV. Give the employer a brief summary of who you are, your key skills and what job you are seeking. Profiles are particularly useful if you don’t have the opportunity to provide a covering letter, e.g. ‘Enthusiastic and hard-working history student with 12 months customer service experience, seeks a part-time position in retail to further develop communication and customer service skills.’ Practical skills are usually more important to the employer than your degree
Work Experience (include paid and voluntary)
Dates worked, job title, employer, location (no need for full address) If you have previous work experience, add this section before Education. Use the job advert/description (if available) to identify what the employer is looking for and give specific examples to demonstrate your relevant skills. Focus on your achievements, rather than giving a detailed job description, e.g: Developed the ability to deal with demanding customers when the shop was very busy, while remaining calm under pressure.
Use bullet points to give your CV more impact
Course title, university, location
Name of school/college, location A-levels (or equivalent) and grades: list across the page
Name of school/college, location GCSEs (or equivalent) The number and grades gained e.g. 9 GCSEs, grades A* - C is usually sufficient. Only include specific subjects, if relevant, e.g. maths to demonstrate numeracy.
If the job isn’t related to your course, the employer is less likely to be interested in your academic studies. Only include modules or projects if the skills you’ve gained are relevant
Additional skills Give details of other relevant skills that you have, such as IT skills (list software packages), driving licence, language skills or certificates, for example, first aid, food hygiene or sports coaching. You could add this section before Education if your skills are particularly relevant to the position you are applying for.
Interests (optional) References If you don’t have space to give full contact details, just write ‘References available on request’.
CV for graduate jobs and placements Your CV should be targeted and relevant to the post applied for. It should be no more than two pages in length.
Your Name Try to put one address only. If you put term-time and home, give dates of when you will be at each address
Full address Telephone number Email address
Keep it professional!
Personal profile or career objective (optional) Only include a profile if it really adds something to your CV. Give the employer a brief summary of who you are, your key skills and what job you are seeking. Profiles are particularly useful if you don’t have the opportunity to provide a covering letter. e.g. ‘Sociology graduate with proven analytical skills and customer service experience seeks a career in auditing, leading to qualification as a Chartered Accountant.’
Education Put your most relevant qualification first. This is usually the most recent, then work backwards. 2009-2012 Full title of your degree/Masters/PhD, state class obtained or predicted Name of university, location (if not apparent from name) Include details of modules relevant to your application but don’t list more than five or six. Include details of relevant projects/activities, e.g. dissertation, thesis. Give specific examples about your achievements and the relevant activities involved, e.g. working independently, project management, report writing, analytical skills, critical thinking. If subject of study is not relevant to your application, focus on the relevant skills you have gained. Remember to provide examples as evidence. 2005-2009 Name of school/college, location (if not apparent from name), A-levels (or equivalent) List subjects and grades across the page to save space. GCSEs (or equivalent) Stating the number and grades gained, e.g. 9 GCSEs, grades A* - C, is usually sufficient.
Work Experience (paid and voluntary) Dates worked, job title, employer, location (no need for full address) Mention particularly relevant experience first and create emphasis with headings. e.g. if applying for a marketing job, you could have two sections: ‘Marketing experience’ or ‘Relevant experience’ and then ‘Additional experience’. Include all relevant experience – the setting may not be relevant but the skills you gained could be. Remember to give examples. You could include vacation jobs, industrial placements, voluntary work or work shadowing. Write briefly about your duties to set the context. Focus on how you carried out those duties i.e. the skills you used.
Be specific! A list of skills is not convincing. Compare ‘Developed team working and communication skills working in a busy restaurant’ to ‘Worked as one of a team of six, with sole responsibility for 15 tables in a busy city centre restaurant. Worked quickly and efficiently over the lunchtime period to maintain turnover’. Your work experience and how you ‘sell’ it can really help your CV stand out. If you haven’t got any work experience, come into the Careers Service and speak to an information officer who can show you the resources available to help you find suitable work experience.
Achievements or positions of responsibility (optional) This section is a chance to show your individuality and to give different examples of relevant skills. Focus on more recent experiences - only include something ‘older’ if it is clearly outstanding. Examples of things you could include are:
Membership of societies Student Rep.
Sporting activities Charity/fundraising
Think about what you do. Do you have any specific responsibilities? What do you gain from it? Additional skills Give details of other relevant skills you might have, such as:
IT skills – list the software packages, programming languages or operating systems you can use and any qualifications you have gained. Language skills – list the different languages you can speak and your level of fluency. Driving licence.
Interests (optional) When reading this section, employers are trying to build up a more complete picture of you. Mention any interests you have that are related to the job you are applying for or which allow you to demonstrate useful skills. Don’t just list the different activities you enjoy, e.g. cinema, dancing, football, travelling - give more detail.
References Choose two people who can comment on your recent achievements and ask their permission first. One should be a university academic, the other could be an employer from a vacation job or work experience or a sports coach. Name Job title / relationship to you University and department Full address, including postcode Telephone number Email address
Name Job title / relationship to you Name of organisation Full address, including postcode Telephone number Email address
If you don’t have space to give the full details, you can say ‘References available on request’.
Sponsored by PwC www.pwc.com/uk/careers
Action words ‘Action words’ help to create a strong impression of achievement, ability and activity and demonstrate that you have the skills and qualities an employer is seeking. Avoid passive terms such as “I had to”, “I was required to…”, “I was involved in…”. Use active, positive verbs instead to describe your role and the impact you made, such as: achieved analysed budgeted completed conducted
coordinated created delivered demonstrated designed
developed edited evaluated improved increased
initiated led liaised managed negotiated
organised planned prepared presented prioritised
produced researched solved supervised trained
Is your CV targeted to the position applied for? Has every piece of information earned its place? Have you put your most relevant information first? Have you clearly explained your contribution to the activities you describe, rather than merely listing them?
Is it clear and easy to read? Have you avoided long paragraphs and instead used headings, subheadings, bullet points and white space?
Have you checked spelling, punctuation and grammar? Have you written a covering letter to accompany your CV? (if applicable) How are you going to send your CV and letter? If emailing, write a brief, professional message, stating what you are applying for. Attach the CV and letter as two separate documents. If posting, use an A4 envelope.
Need more help?
www.ncl.ac.uk/careers/jobs – click on ‘Making applications’ for help with CVs and covering letters, including examples and advice on CVs for different countries and sectors. Attend our term-time CV and covering letter workshops. For dates and times, visit www.ncl.ac.uk/careers/events
Get feedback on your CV or covering letter support is available Monday to Friday, 10am 4.30pm, no appointment needed. Visit the Writing Development Centre www.ncl.ac.uk/students/wdc - tutors can help you with the structure and language of your CV and covering letter. They won’t proofread your work but can help identify strengths and weaknesses in your writing.
www.targetjobs.co.uk – look under ‘Careers advice’ for CV tips and examples of CVs for a range of sectors. www.prospects.ac.uk – click on ‘Careers advice’ then ‘CVs and covering letters’ for information, advice and examples. Visit ‘Job application advice’ for tips on how to promote your skills to employers.
www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers – look under ‘Careers’ then ‘Marketing yourself’ for advice on promoting your PhD and skills in CVs and applications.
Careers Service Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU Tel: +44 (0) 191 222 7748 Fax: +44 (0) 191 222 7780 Web: www.ncl.ac.uk/careers