CVs and covering letters: How to Sell Yourself
You've probably heard it so many times like a broken record that having a decent CV is the beginning of starting a journey on the road to success... well unfortunately it's true. You don't have to be an expert in employment to write one, and there are enough tools out there to help you write one. Once you've got a CV, you'll be able to re-use it again and again on that road to success(!).
A CV and accompanying covering letter is a chance to show any employer the best of what skills you've got or to simply tell them a little about yourself. It doesn't always have to be about skills - a CV is a means to an end, an introducer if you will. It's more about introducing yourself and promoting any experience you might have.
Often a CV sits on a recruiter's desk somewhere - this person has to go through them individually and it's at this point you need to catch their eye with something about yourself in order to get your CV short-listed for either a phone call or interview invite. It's about selling yourself, and making an impression. It sounds like a broken record yes, but this is actually true, unfortunately. We are all human after-all and it is not a computer that selects the best CV's, it is a human being, believe it or not in this digital world we live in. We not quite their when Robots and computers will conduct job interviews!
What should I put in my CV?
There is no one true formula, although there are types/templates of CV that many people follow - in fact a CV is often about how it looks rather than the amount of information in it. You could actually put TOO MUCH in a CV so that the immediate impression it gives is 'waffle'. Keep it simple but comprehensive, and relevant. It doesn't really depend on the industry you are in as the best CV's tell the same story. Here's how:
Below you'll find a downloadable template for you, that has actually been used and been successful in job applications. So download it and then you'll be able to add in all the relevant information applicable to yourself. Split the CV into sections like this:
PERSONAL DETAILS - Basically your Name, Address, and Contact details. (There's no need to put your date of birth although some do, it is a personal preference whether you do)
PERSONAL STATEMENT - A bit about yourself - for example, what is your current job; or perhaps you work part-time or study? Perhaps you are not working but there's no need to explain that - instead write a little about your skills and interests
EMPLOYMENT HISTORY - what it is, a list of jobs you've had. Most employers expect a work history of at least 5 years if you've been working for 10 years you need to show that. Honesty and accountability is the best option.
TRAINING AND EDUCATION - you don't need to list every single qualification you got and training course you've attended (if you've done a lot!) - think about what is relevant to the job and what might give you some edge.
ACHIEVEMENTS - you don't need to write down that you passed your school 10 metre swimming test 20 years ago. Something relevant like 'driver of the month' award or recognition for good customer service or interesting. Any volunteer work or driving abroad is good. If you don't have any special achievements don't put this section in, leave it out. After-all it's not required and is simple an extra point.
REFERENCES - normally you would be required to offer 2 referees to give you an account of your conduct. You can either put them here or do it later. So basically this section is optional. Many employers these days will offer you a role if they like you, pending references.
CV grammatical genius?
You don't need to be a grammatical genius to write a good CV. You just need a couple of attempts and a nudge in the right direction to be successful. To give you a head start we've provide you with both templates for a CV and covering letter. They have been used in actual job applications and been successful. Download them and make different copies and try different versions - on one you could write more descriptively about each job you had; then on another version reduce down the info by trying a diluted version, for example.