e-Xplore Words

Job Applications, CVs, Covering Letters & Interviews

2. Effective CVs

Your CV, or résumé, and covering letter is your opportunity to convince an employer to invite you for an interview. You need to think carefully about what to include and how to present yourself. You should think about
  • the area of employment you are targeting
  • the employers' requirements
  • your qualifications, strengths, and qualities
  • your work, placement, or project experience

When to Use a CV
  • in response to a job advert asking you to apply "in writing"
  • for speculative approaches (unsolicited applications)

  • A CV would not usually accompany an application form.
  • The ideal CV should fit onto one A4 page. More than two pages are usually not accepted.


Personal Details
Include your full name, home and/or semester addresses, telephone number(s), email address, and date of birth. Furthermore, you may wish to include nationality and marital status.

The main focus should be your recent education. Therefore, start with your university qualifications and adopt a reverse chronological order. You should refer to your course options, placements, project work, and major presentations. However, keep the details brief.

Work Experience
Again, use reverse chronological order. Include vacation, part-time, and voluntary work. Emphasise the skills that you developed in these jobs, e.g. organisational, analytical, communicative, or foreign language skills. If you are a mature student or have extensive work experience you would have to particularly accentuate your work experience, which demonstrates the skills required by the job.

Additional Skills
Any further skills or qualifications from foreign language and IT skills (including the degree of competence achieved), down to driving license might be worth mentioning.

Interests & Activities
Include responsibilities, team or club membership, long term and new interests - activities that demonstrate commitment. Supply details as to what your role involved, e.g. planning, organising, or working as part of a team, and the like.

In some places it is usual to include two references, of which one should be academic, the other one related to your work experience or industrial placement. In other places you just need to name two potential referees at the end of your CV. Try to find out about the specific requirements at the organisation or region of your choice. If possible, let your referees know the kind of position you are applying for and the skills required.


Further Suggestions for Headlines within Your CV
Take a look at these phrases if you want to structure the content of your CV more individually.

Achievement Writing Ideas and Expressions
Effectively sell yourself in your CV by means of these highly useful phrases. A CV needs to convince readers that you have the skills needed for their job, and abilities to do it successfully. By highlighting accomplishments using action verbs, you create a proven track record to remove all doubt.

Positive Action Verbs
Use some of action verbs in your CV/resume, covering letter, and in the job interview to describe your recent activities more impressively.

Positive Personality Adjectives
Use some of these adjectives to describe your personality.