Essential Career Tips
Writing a Graduate CV and Covering Letter
Student and Graduate Careers
Introduction This booklet is written for students and graduates to help you to prepare and update your CV and to write an effective covering letter. In addition to this booklet members of the Student and Graduate Careers team will deliver workshops during your course, in Level 2 as part of Work Based Learning preparation and in Level 3 through subject departments. Watch out for poster and IBIS postings advertising the workshops you are welcome to drop a draft CV or covering letter into Student and Graduate Careers, or email it to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will give you feedback. The Purpose of a CV As you probably know, CV is short for “curriculum vitae”, which translates as “stream of life”. It has become the most popular way for prospective employees to present relevant information to employers, and is designed to get you an interview. It is therefore a crucial first step - get it wrong and your application will go no further. A CV is a dynamic document which changes and develops as your experience grows, and it’s never too soon to start. It’s much easier to amend an existing, well prepared CV than to start from scratch, particularly when you’re under pressure because you’ve just seen that dream job advertised! Not all job applications require a CV, but keeping yours up to date means that you have to hand most of the factual information you are likely to need when completing an application form or on-line application. Remember, each time you use the CV you will need to target the contents to meet the requirements of the job. Preparing your CV A CV is a factual summary of the key features about you which are relevant to a future employer. But it is more than a dry list of qualifications and previous employers – it is a way to sell yourself.
Presenting your CV There are various styles for constructing a CV and we will look at two of them; but first, there are some clear conventions for presenting your CV which are strongly recommended because they are what employers expect. A CV must be No more than two sides of A4 (this is the UK convention – in the USA the expectation is a one-page resume) Word-processed in a clear font like Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, Times New Roman Presented in black ink on good quality white paper so that it photocopies well and feels good! Spaced out well, using indent, bold, underline, and bullet points consistently and in a way which aids clarity. Avoid at all costs using coloured paper or ink, photographs or illustrations, or elaborate folders. Quite apart from the photocopying problems, flashy presentation is assumed to disguise poor content! Content and Layout For graduates who have progressed into higher education straight from school or college, with perhaps a gap year, a good format to use is the chronological CV, which emphasises your educational history since this is the most substantial part of your experience to date. Mature students, however, might prefer to produce a skills-based
CV which begins with a summary of skills developed over time, through paid and voluntary work and education. Whichever format you choose, there is no need to begin with Curriculum Vitae – it’s obvious that this is what it is and you are wasting precious space. Start with your name and put your personal details underneath like this:
Sarah Thomas 14 Garden Lane Chester CH2 3LX 01244 657433 mobile: 0774 397584 email: email@example.com Giving details of your date of birth is entirely optional. If you choose to include this, it is normally listed within your personal details. For a Chronological CV, continue with the following headings: Career Profile this is a brief description of who you are and what you are looking for, for example “A final year undergraduate of Business Studies with German, now seeking a graduate training programme with a company...
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