CV and covering letter tips

Students in Year 2 have recently submitted their Individual Employability Portfolios consisting of a CV, covering letter, and mock application form responses. This formal piece of assessment ensures that you’re all ready to make great placement applications, with valuable feedback provided to boost your success.

Marking the portfolios has revealed a few common mistakes, so here’s four CV and covering letter tips. Students in Year One take note!

#1 – Passive vs Active

Subtle differences in language can really make a difference to your CV’s and covering letters. Using words like “required” or “had to” gives the impression of a passive employee who only does things when they have to. Avoiding these words will make you seem much more proactive:

 

Passive language examplePassive language example 2

#2 – Keep it brief

There can be a tendency to adopt an ‘academic’ tone when writing covering letters. The person reading your letter is probably pressed for time, so adopting a more ‘to the point’ writing style will ensure the content of your letter is noticed.

“I have many attributes and have had many experiences which make me an ideal candidate for this role. I regularly play football as part of the university team, and we practice every week. Doing so alongside my other commitments (such as academic studies) requires me to carefully manage my time, which has increased my organisational skills. My resilience has also developed through sports, as it’s important to keep going even if the game goes against you”.

That’s too long.

“Keeping my sporting commitments alongside my university studies has developed my organisational and time management skills, as well as resilience: keeping going when the game is against you is vital”.

That’s better!

#3 – Spell your name right

It’s the little things.

#4 – Skills!

Some fall into the trap of listing a job’s responsibilities on their CV, but don’t follow it up with the skills that this demonstrates. It’s really important that you show you are aware of what skills you possess – a recruiter isn’t going to do this for you.

Served customers and operated the till during your part-time job? That doesn’t sound very relevant to an application for a professional services firm. But what skills does this demonstrate?

– Developed excellent customer service skills, resolving challenges quickly and professionally.
– Quickly progressed to operating till, using attention to detail to ensure accuracy.

You’ve listed your skills, and evidenced them. Great!

And just to prove that skills are what’s really important, here’s a partner at Deloitte:

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