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Case Study

Tuesday - Day 2 – CV and Cover Letter Tips

Tailoring your CV to the Apprenticeship role that you are applying for:
When sending out applications, be sure not to send out the same CV to lots of employers. Employers can usually recognise a mass mailshot, as they can sound general and unfocussed. 
 
What skills are the company looking for?  
Try to highlight your experience and skills that are relevant to the position that you are applying for. Consider the skills that the employer will want to see. If you’ve got experience in both IT and care work, and you are sending your CV to an IT company, make sure your IT experience and skills are prominent in your CV.  
Remember to be honest. Never lie on your CV – an employer can easily check any qualifications and you might end up getting stuck in an interview.
 
Spelling, Grammar and Typing Errors 
Your CV should always be typed – not only does it look more professional but it will also be much handier for you to give out to employers. 
 
Double check it! 
Spelling, grammar and typos are generally considered a ‘no no’ by employers and a sloppy CV won’t reflect a careful, hardworking individual. Make sure you read through it carefully and always ask a friend or family member to check it too.
 
Your CV should be written in a clear order which makes sense for potential employers. 
You should start with your name and contact details, work through your education history in order of the most recent first. Then finally add in any work experience or other relevant skills and qualifications, again in order of the most recent first. 
 
Personal Details 
Make sure that you include all your personal details on your CV, it sounds basic but the following information should be set out clearly on the page. 
Your Name, this might sound obvious but make sure this stands out as your CV is your tool to get yourself noticed! It might help to put it in a larger font or make it Bold. 
 
A One-Paragraph Profile 
This could be a sentence or two describing what your ideal career would be and why. 
 
Contact details 
It is essential that your contact details are clear and easy for the potential employer to find. If they have to look for your phone number or email address – they may not bother to contact you.
 
*SWAC Tip!*
Make sure your email address is appropriate for potential employers. 
For example if your email address is something like hotchick@emailaddress.co.uk you should set up a different email address for more professional situations like your Apprenticeship search.  
Using something like Firstname.Lastname@emailaddress.co.uk appears more professional to a potential employer.
 
Other Important Information 
If you have any other skills and qualifications that can set you apart from other applicants make sure that you include them. For example a full UK driving license could make you stand out from other candidates.
 
Educational History 
If this is your first job it is likely that your educational history will be your strongest selling point. If this is the case you should make sure that it is on the first page, straight after your contact details and career objective/personal statement. Your education history should be listed in reverse and dated – with your most recent qualifications first. 
 
Work Experience 
List any relevant work experience you have had. Remember, all experience counts! 
Even including some details about a part time role could set you apart from other applicants. 
It is also a good idea to add in any relevant skills or professional qualifications you have gained which might be relevant, for example, an IT qualification.
Also include a short overview of what you enjoy – any hobbies or sports, especially if you think they are relevant.
 
Keep it clear 
The rule with CV’s is to keep them clear. They shouldn’t be coloured, italic or in a fancy font. Print your CV in black and white using a clear, easy to read font such as Arial.
 
Keep it short 
Try and keep your CV short and to the point. If you have lots to say try using bullet points to avoid losing the potential employer’s attention. The general rule with CVs is to limit them to two A4 pages. Any more then this and you may lose the employers attention.  
 
* SWAC Tip!*
Remember – it’s a good idea to tailor your CV for each Apprenticeship you apply for, if you have lots of different work experience then make sure you pick the ones which are the most relevant for the position you’re applying for.
 
Top CV Tips
  • Spend time getting it right - Your CV is your tool to sell yourself to an employer and will affect whether you get an interview or not 
  • Check your details against the job description – try and tailor your CV to give examples of qualities they are looking for 
  • Write clearly – avoid using jargon or acronyms 
  • Stay positive – this attitude will reflect in your CV (and at interview) and may encourage a potential employer to consider you 
  • Give examples – don’t just claim to be good at team work but give examples of when you have used these skills and the outcome 
  • Prioritise – don’t overload your CV with information but pick out your most relevant skills or qualifications applicable to the role
 
For more advice and guidance on how to build your CV, visit this website:
www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/get-a-job/cv-tips       
 
Writing A Cover Letter
Why should I write a Covering Letter? 
Sending a covering letter is an important part of job hunting – not only are they a great tool 
for you to ‘Market’ yourself for a position but they will also make the employer more likely to 
read your CV. 
 
Your CV shows off your skills and qualifications but a covering letter should explain why you're 
applying for this particular Apprenticeship and what makes you the right person for it. 
 
What should I include?
The secret of a good covering letter is to have the Apprenticeship that you are applying for in mind 
when you write it. That said, there are certain things that should always be included: 
 
  • Your contact details (name, address and phone number for example)
  • The Apprenticeship you are applying for and where you saw it advertised
  • A summary of your relevant skills and experiences
  • Why you are suitable for the role 
Things to think about when writing your cover letter:
  • Skills, experience or qualifications that make you right for the job - you can use your 
  • covering letter to highlight particularly relevant areas of your CV. 
  • Why you want to work for this company in particular – your cover letter can be a fantastic 
  • way to show you are enthusiastic by talking about the company specifically. For example ... “I was interested to see on your website that you have worked with XX”
  • Which aspects of the job you are interested in and why. For example... “I noticed that part of the job would entail working with young people which is something I am very interested in because ...”
Top covering letter tips!
  • Make it short and to the point, no more than three paragraphs explaining why you want the job, why you would be good at it and why the company interests you.
  • Draw attention to strong points on your CV.
  • Check it – make sure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes, if you aren’t sure ask a friend or family member to proof read it for you.
  • Avoid asking about salary – if you aren’t sure about what the pay is you should wait until interview stage to politely ask.
  • If you don’t know who to address your letter to, give the company a quick call to find out who it should be sent to.
  • The same formatting points apply to covering letters as they do with CVs. Keep it clear, tidy and professional. 
  • Send it in a clearly addressed envelope and if possible use a first class stamp – this will indicate both organisation and efficiency. 
  • If you are emailing your covering letter and CV try and use an appropriate businesslike email address – if you don’t have one already its worth setting one up.
  • Be enthusiastic – if you are enthusiastic about a job this will come across in your letter and help the employer to know that you are really interested in this particular job. You don’t want to send out a boring generic letter to every employer.