CVs and Covering Letters for Effective Applications

CVs and
Covering Letters
for Effective
Compiled by: University of Bolton Careers Service
For further help and advice about your CV and covering letter
contact us:
Tel: 01204 903080
Email: [email protected]
(Updated August 2013)
Having identified an opportunity, how do you present yourself to an employer? The Curriculum
Vitae and covering letter is your first chance to impress. Get it right and it is the next step on the
way to an interview and a job.
A CV is a clear and focussed overview of education, experience and skills. It can either be
speculative, where there is no advertised vacancy at the time, or targeted as a response to a job
advert. Remember, the most effective CV’s are targeted to the advertisement and company.
Writing a Curriculum Vitae
Research and Preparation
Before starting to produce the CV and cover letter it is essential to do some research and
preparation. The key questions to ask yourself are:
What is your target area of work?
Which employers are you approaching?
What are your identifiable employability skills and can you demonstrate evidence of
these to an employer?
What messages do you want to send about yourself, relating to your strengths?
What skills, experiences and qualities should be emphasised?
When applying for a specific job aim to target your CV to match the requirements of each job.
Ensure the skills required in the job are highlighted in your CV.
Look at the job vacancy below:
“Applicants should be organised individuals with the desire to learn and develop in the
field of direct marketing. Full training provided but applicants must have an ability to
meet targets / deadlines and work under pressure with a range of stakeholders.
Applicants should also be good team players and have sound administrative and IT
These skills need to be included in your CV but remember, never list skills without providing
supporting evidence.
General Presentation of CV
2 pages maximum (but also usually the minimum)
Font size 11 or 12
Check grammar and spelling, and especially check for American spellings
Use bullet points and bold for emphasis
Always list the most recent experiences first and work back
CV Layout
There are generally two main types of CV. They are:
Chronological CV
This type of CV lists work and other experiences in reverse order, starting with the most
This is most commonly used if you have relevant work experience in relation to the job
and/or your education is your biggest selling point.
The skills you have developed will be interweaved into the body of the CV rather than in
a separate section
Skills Based CV
This type of CV emphasises the skills required for the job in a specific section called
“Skills Profile”. These skills are not simply listed but should also include evidence of how
these skills were acquired, drawing from academic, work/voluntary experience and
extra-curricular activities.
Details of work experience /voluntary work will be brief since they should only include a
description of the job role rather than the skills acquired as a result of doing the job.
CV Headings and Order
All CVs follow a certain order in terms of structure. The headings you should use are as follows:
Personal Details
Personal Profile or Career Profile
Skills Profile (if doing a Skills based CV)
Work/Voluntary Experience
Additional Information/Achievements
Hobbies and Interests (if relevant and if you have room)
References (if you do not have room it is acceptable to put ‘References Available On
The order of these sections depends on what you want to emphasise. Most students will want to
emphasise their education since having a degree could be your main selling point.
However, once you have been working for a number of years you may feel it is your work experience
which is most relevant and in this case you may decide to list work experience before education.
Personal Details
Name (bold and larger font than rest of CV)
Email Address (ensure this is professional)
Landline and mobile phone numbers
Right to Work Status – not essential but students may feel it is an advantage to confirm
their ‘right to work’ status if you have been born and educated abroad. e.g. EU citizen or
UK citizen or UK residency with right to work.
Do not include: date of birth, gender, nationality, marital status or any information relating to
your health. Also it is not necessary to use the word ‘CV’ as a heading, since recruiters will be
aware of what your document is.
Personal Profile or Career Profile
A personal profile can be very powerful but should be brief (3/4 lines max) and targeted. Use it to
state your career focus and 2 or 3 main strengths. Target your profile to the specific role or
company – this means it should be changed continuously.
Avoid generic skills statements such as ‘hard worker’, ‘team player’, ‘well organised’ or
‘motivated’ without backing them up with evidence. For example:
“Proactive marketing graduate (2:1 achieved) with two years’ experience
organising and publicising successful campus events. Participated in a group
project to create a complete marketing campaign. Seeks challenging and creative
position in a marketing environment”
When completing this section you should:
State your University and Degree title in full
If you can, list your expected degree result (2:1predicted).
If you have some positive average annual marks, then include these
Only include relevant modules/title of dissertation
Include A levels/BTEC national or equivalent qualifications with grades
Include the UK equivalence of International qualifications if you know them
Summarise your GCSE’s and make as positive as possible, for example:
o 8 GCSE’s (3A’s +5 B’s) including Eng (A) and Maths (B)
o 8 GCSE’s (A-C) including English (B)
o 8 GCSE’s (A-C) including English and Maths
Work/Voluntary Experience
All experience counts, whether it is paid, voluntary or involves work shadowing. If using a
chronological CV describe the job but also focus on how skills were used or developed. If using
a skills-based CV then list skills (with evidence) in the Skills Profile section and describe the
duties undertaken in the work/voluntary experience section.
Additional Achievements/Information
This section can help you stand out from the crowd. Here you can include any additional pieces
of information which you are unable to include elsewhere e.g. Driving Licence, recent CRB check,
conversational French, NVQ 2 in Customer Care. You could also include your hobbies/interests,
if unusual or relevant to the job.
Check Your CV
Always read through and check your CV and preferably ask someone (possibly a Careers
Adviser) to check it for you before sending to an employer. Don’t forget most employers will scan
your CV in less than a minute, so ensure your key skills and experiences are clear and stand out!
Writing with Power
When writing your CV, use active rather than passive phrasing and include a variety of dynamic
words to create an impression of passion and enthusiasm.
Useful Phrases
More than x years extensive and diverse
experience in…
Demonstrated skills in …
Proven track record in….
In charge of implementing…
Instrumental in…
Constant interaction with…
Supported customers/colleagues with..
Provided technical assistance to…
Researched, assessed synthesised
Succeeded in…
Proven track record in….
Planned and managed…
Good knowledge of….
Initiated financial savings by…
Extensive training/involvement in…
Disseminated results of analysis to…
Action Words for your CV
Cover Letter
(Always include a cover letter to accompany your CV)
Below is a suggested layout for your letter and information which will help you to populate your
Your address
Write to a named individual
Their address
Dear Sir/Madam or Named individual
1st Paragraph: Who you are and why you are writing. If you are applying for a specific
position, make it clear which position you are applying for and where you saw the advertisement
2nd Paragraph: State why you are interested in the job. What skills and experiences do you
have to offer? Emphasise the main skills which meet the requirements of the job.
3rd Paragraph: Demonstrate your understanding of the Company
Demonstrate that you have done some research into the company. Refer to recent (positive)
news stories, or new products or contracts which have recently been won. In addition, you may
want to include the size and location of the company, where they fit in the market place e.g. “the
largest producer of … in the UK” etc.
4th Paragraph: Positive conclusion. State when you are available for interview and let them
know that you look forward to hearing from them.
If you have addressed the letter to a named person you should end the letter with ‘Yours
sincerely’. If you used ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ then end with ‘Yours Faithfully’.
Covering Letter for a Graduate Trainee in Human Resource Management
David Smith
15 Windsor Street
L8 2SR
Ms E Taylor (Head of Graduate Recruitment)
Smith & Jones Plc
24 Manchester Road
Salford, M12 7RT
22nd January 2013
Dear Ms Taylor
Further to your advertisement for a Trainee Manager in Careers News (issue H) 15 th January
2013 please find my application as requested.
You will note from my CV that I shall graduate in the summer with a Business Studies degree
(2:1 forecast), having studied relevant HR and marketing options.
You will also find that I have 12 months relevant sales experience within a large retail company,
where I was able to develop many transferable skills, relevant to your business. I took an active
role in graduate recruitment, and was given responsibility for the organisation of many in-house
training courses. The highlight of my sandwich placement was undoubtedly, the presentation I
gave to senior management, on the effectiveness of their graduate recruitment campaign.
My interest in your company initially arose after reading a local newspaper article, highlighting
your continued success and outlining your vision of continued growth in the future. Having
read your recruitment literature and the information on your company website I feel that
working for your company would offer me a challenging and rewarding career in a successful
dynamic, yet friendly organisation.
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my application further and I am available for
interview at your convenience.
Yours sincerely
David Smith
Skills based CV example 1
15 Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 2SR
0151 236 0000
Email: [email protected]
Personal Profile
Final year Business Studies undergraduate (2:1 forecast), seeks challenging sales position within retail
sector, in order to utilise proven flair for teamwork and innovation in business marketing.
Education and Qualifications
University of Bolton, BA (Hon) Business Studies (2:1 forecast)
Modules studied include: Organisational Behaviour (64%), Principles of Human Resource
Management (57%), Organisational Design (66%), and Management Decision Making (65%).
St Mary’s High School, Bucks
3 A Levels
English Lit (C), Psychology (D), General Studies (C)
including Maths, English Language and French at grade B
Skills Profile
 Led large group (30+) of prospective students and parents around the campus on university open
days as part of my Student Ambassador role.
 Successful presentation delivered to senior management of Marks and Spencer’s as culmination
of project undertaken during sandwich placement.
 Successfully trained a new member of staff to perform well and deliver high levels of customer
service on the shop floor. My supervisor praised me for my ‘excellent’ communication and
mentoring skills.
 Adapted and integrated successfully into a different culture, as Camp Counsellor in the USA,
where I led the group responsible for evening entertainment for 200 young children.
 Helped to organise 2 major fundraising events for the University Badminton team which raised in
excess of £5,000.
Initiative and Adaptability
 Worked to finance my studies, gaining invaluable experience whilst maintaining high academic
 Chaired University Badminton Club meetings, and organised competitions and fixtures. Liaised
with other clubs and societies over joint fundraising activities.
Information Technology
 Excellent working knowledge of Microsoft including Word, Access, Excel. Also able to use SPSS,
and cad design databases.
 Took part in a paid work-based learning project during 2nd year where I designed a website using
Dreamweaver, for a small local company, having initially identified their training needs.
Commercial Awareness
 Active role in Enterprise project as part of sixth form curriculum. Profits generated went to local
charities and schools for new IT equipment.
 Experience of working for large, retail multinational developing sector and skills awareness.
Work Experience
2009 - 2010
Marks and Spencer, (Sandwich Placement)
Based in the training and development unit. Worked as part of the team with responsibility for
graduate recruitment, identifying and meeting the training needs of existing staff.
Summer 08
Camp America, Michigan, USA
As a Camp Counsellor assisted in the design and delivery of summer camps for 11-16 year olds.
Coached soccer and tennis as well as devising a full and varied evening programme.
January 08
Matthew and Son, Merseyside (Business Bridge Project)
Paid project advising a small local company of the commercial benefits of the Internet.
2007 - Present
Next Plc, Bucks
Retail experience in busy high street branch over several vacations.
Quickly identified the need for negotiation, patience and customer care.
Additional Information
 Qualified badminton coach. Member of University Tennis and Badminton Teams. Member of
Interdepartmental Football Team.
 Chair of University Badminton Club, organised competition, fixtures and many successful
fundraising events.
 Travelled extensively across Europe and America.
 Attended several training courses on sandwich placement, including Time Management and
Presentation Skills.
 Full Driving Licence
Dr Z Smith, (Final Year Tutor)
Bolton Business School
Bolton, BL3 5AB
Tel: 01204 555555, [email protected]
Ms Emma Burton (Head of Personnel)
Marks and Spencer
Liverpool, L35 5BT
Tel: 0151 987 6543 [email protected]
Skills based CV example 2
Josh Baker
18 Berkley Crescent, Bolton BL3 5EX
Email: j.baker58@yahoo
Mobile: 07781918931 Tel: 01204 967854
Personal Profile
Final year BSC Biology student (2:1 predicted) with a solid track record in front-line sales, seeking an
opportunity to use proven flair for team work and innovation in the sales sector
2010 -2013 University of Bolton BSc (Hons) Biology (2:1 predicted)
Modules studied included Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology
Dissertation: Plant and Cell Growth within Systemic Functions
Derby 6th Form College, Sunderland, Teeside
A-Levels: Biology (C) Chemistry (C) Sociology (D)
Hopwood High School
8 GCSE’s including English (B) and Maths (B)
Skills Profile
Communication and Negotiation
 Persuaded a new client to place an order and set up four client appointments during Internship at
 Negotiated a £300 sponsorship deal for the University Hockey team
 Led a group of visitors around the university campus during “Open Days”, promoting University
courses and facilities
 Delivered a presentation on results of investigation into competitor products to Sales Director and
Marketing team at Matech
 Successfully trained 2 new members of staff at Toto’s restaurant. Praised for excellent
communication skills by supervisor
Team Work
 Helped organise a Trade Fair at Matech with other members of staff
 Worked in small groups to plan, conduct and write up 20 experiments
 Keen team sports player both in serious competition and for recreation
 Led a team of 5 at Toto’s, organising staff rotas to ensure adequate cover
 Elected assistant coach of Hockey team, organising matches, liaising with other universities,
organising transport and venues
Creative Problem Solving
 Developed a database of customers and suppliers for a small catering organisation
 Increased turnover by enabling the business to record and target customer preferences
During final year project when key equipment failed, brainstormed options with supervisor,
identified similar equipment and negotiated access to allow completion of project
IT Skills
 Proficient in the use of: Microsoft Office, Mat Lab, Easyplot and KaleidaGraph
Work Experience
June – Sept 2012: Matech Health Products Ltd - Internship (Sales Management)
 Calling and arranging appointments with new and existing contacts
 Visiting contacts with sales staff
 Investigation of competitor products
 Producing report and presentation on results
2008 – 2012:
Toto’s Restaurant – Team Leader
 Customer food/drink service and table layouts
 Training staff
 Staff rota’s
 Created customer and supplier database
2010 – 2011:
University of Bolton – Open Day Assistant
Additional Skills/Information
Clean Driving Licence (3years)
French – Basic conversational
Food Hygiene Certificate
Interests and Activities
Biology Society – active member participating in meetings and events. Recently promoted 3 talks
through distributing posters and flyers
Hockey , Football and Running – completed Race for Life, independently raising £75 for Cancer
References Available on Request
Chronological CV example 1
Lauren Anderson
23 Buckingham Terrace
Bolton BL5 2EZ
Mobile: 7789032456
Email: [email protected]
Personal Profile
Business Studies undergraduate (2:1 predicted) proficient in Spanish and with substantial
work experience in a business environment. Aiming to develop current skills through an entry
level position within a financial environment.
Education and Qualifications
2010 - present
University of Bolton
BA Business Studies (2:1 predicted)
3 months placement in Bilbao Spain
Relevant Modules include Sales promotion, Marketing and Business,
Highly numerate degree giving excellent skills to both problem solve and conduct
sophisticated statistical tests
Achieved 75% for presentation for marketing project
2008 - 2010
Lostock 6th Form College, Oldham
BTEC National Diploma Business & Finance (3 Merits)
2003 - 2008
Hollinswood High School, Oldham
GCSEs: 8 GCSEs, A-C including: English (B) & Maths (B)
Work Experience
2012 (June – Sept)
Makeshift Ltd (Bilbao, Spain)
Audit Assistant
Reviewing company financial systems and analysing risk
Testing to ascertain if financial information systems were fit for purpose
Developed excellent data investigative skills such as an ability to use range of sources, check
findings and questioning conclusions. Enhanced both business and general language skills
through communicating with clients and colleagues
2011 (June – Sept)
Travelshop UK (Manchester)
Admin Assistant
Worked in a team of 4 matching Invoices to payments made on account
Matched income to expenses over the financial period
General admin duties as required
Demonstrated excellent teamwork skills in a busy financial environment such as an ability to listen
to clients and managers, perform my duties to a high level and supporting colleagues, resulting in
an early promotion.
2010 (July –Aug) Dog Protection League
Admin Assistant
Data Inputting
Bank reconciliations
Booking appointments and taking details
Photocopying/filing and recording and distributing mail
Developed marketing skills by helping to develop a leaflet which aimed to encourage the
recruitment of volunteers
2008 - 2010
MacDuff’s Kitchen
Crew member
Taking and preparing orders
Followed procedures regarding Food Hygiene
Trained new members of staff.
Excellent customer care skills and was awarded “Crew member of the Month” Certificate on 3
Additional Skills/Achievements
Languages: Semi fluent in Spanish and conversational level in French
IT skills: Proficient in the use of Office applications including Word, Outlook, PowerPoint
and Excel. Experience of Sage Line 100
Other achievements and interests include:
NVQ 2 in Customer Care
Food Hygiene Certificate
Full Driving Licence (2 years)
Enjoy running and have recently been involved in a fund raising exercise by completing a
15K run for Diabetics UK
Reference details available on request
Chronological Creative CV example 1
Gemma Johnstone
44 St Austell Drive, Rochdale, OL12 3BQ
01708 978654 / 07956707345
[email protected]
Career Objective
Multimedia and web-site design graduate (2:2 achieved) with substantial technical and creative
skills, gained through both work experience and academic studies. Looking for an entry level
position in web page design. Also has full clean driving licence.
2010 – 2013
University of Bolton
BSc (Hons) Multimedia and Website Development (2:2)
Modules included:
 Introduction to Internet technology –
 Digital Photography
 Multimedia applications
 Programming C#
Virtual worlds and 3D Modelling
Internet and Multimedia Platforms
Visual Effects and Compositing
Group project:
The aim was to create a 5 minute 3D animated version of The Great Gatsby. Production
involved using all of the major aspects of Alias Maya, whilst also allowing me to extend my
skills in other post-production software, such as Adrope Premiere and After Effects. I
achieved excellent marks for this project.
Technical Skills:
 Alias Maya
 Macromedia Flash, Director and Dream
 Adobe Photoshop, Premiere and After
 Microsoft Office and visual Studio
2008 - 2010
Hopwood Hall College, Rochdale
A Levels
Computing C English Lit C History C
2003 - 2008
Balderstone Community School, Rochdale
7 GCSE’s including English and Maths
At Work…
May– Sept 2011
Persuasion Ltd, Manchester
Student Placement
Based in the Web Design Department
Responsible for developing applications for clients
Helped to develop a new web-site
Further developed Dream Weaver skills
Worked effectively within a team of 5
June – Sept 2010
Knightly International, Oldham Telesales
Telephone sales promoting various products
Dealing and resolving billing issues
Customer Care skills enhanced
Improved Communication skills
Sept 07–May 2009
PC World, Bury
Retail Sales
Product knowledge and promotion
Arranging home delivery
Operating Tills and all monetary transactions
Gained a greater understanding of IT products and capabilities
Training undertaken in Customer Care
What do I do in my spare time?
Student Ambassador: introducing new students to the university, explaining services provided and
taking students and parents on campus tours.
Social Media: Have set up my own Blog and regularly use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep
abreast of organisations, products and new developments within multimedia.
Swimming: Keen swimmer and have achieved bronze and silver ASA Lifesaving awards.
Language: Conversational French and Spanish.
Mr A Smith
Lecturer in Multimedia
University of Bolton
Tel: 01204 907654
Email: [email protected]
Ms Anne Grace
Senior Designer
Persuasion Ltd
M1 4BQ
Tel: 0161 532 8989
Email: [email protected]