CV's and Applications

It is important to remember that your application, covering letter and CV are probably your first direct opportunity to differentiate yourself in the recruitment process.

There are likely to be a large number of applications for the role and as a result you need to utilise this opportunity to start to differentiate yourself, make yourself memorable and stand out from the crowd.

You also need to make it as easy as possible for the person going through the application to secure the information they want and gain an understanding of you. People buy people and also surround themselves with people like themselves. You therefore need to be yourself, the best and most applicable version of you that uses the appropriate terminology and demonstrates an understanding of the applicability of your experience. Give them something that leaves them wanting to know more when they meet you face to face.

You are trying to do everything you can to make them stop, think, remember and look forward to meeting you. You want them to begin picturing you as the ideal candidate who is going to walk through the door.

You covering letter should be written as a letter, even if you are emailing it. It should be short and sweet, no longer than a single page and tailored to sell you for the role that you are applying for. Your CV should remain largely unchanged but can be tweaked to ensure that it includes any key words they are looking for just in case the CV is scanned by computer.

Your CV or any other form of application will also undoubtedly have the requirement to outline all sorts of details around what you have in terms of qualifications and experience. There may be a minimum requirement in terms of grades, professional qualifications or experience, it is expected that you have this. If you have them, everyone has them and therefore as it is expected it is of no value to you.

There is so much advice when it comes to writing CV’s that it is simply impossible to follow or incorporate it all. You will have to decide on the approach that best suits you rather than following and abiding by every piece of advice out there. There are however some generally accepted fundamentals.

It must be easy to follow and therefore clean and crisp is the best way to go. Formatting is important but don’t go over the top with colours, headers, margins, bold or italics. Keep the length of your CV to no more than two pages; be mindful of the reader who likely has a number of CV’s to review.

Keep it simple for the reader if it doesn’t need to be there then don’t include it and clutter your CV with irrelevant information. It is vital however that you include all the key information. Use an appropriate personal or business email address. If you haven’t got one then set one up for your job hunt.

Your Qualifications fall into the expected part of your personal value proposition it is therefore essential that what is expected is included. Do not go over the top with every small qualification you have achieved however adding key qualifications that might not be expected but are relevant to the job will show off what you can offer and again demonstrate you are a good fit.

When looking at a blank page it can be easy to think you have no experience but nobody is in that situation. Everybody has done something! You have more experience than you realise. There will be many skills or experience that you have developed through some other kind of experience, be it hobbies, voluntary work or extracurricular activities.

Don’t rule yourself out of the running with a basic typo so before sending your application to any prospective employer you must be your own harshest critic. Scrutinise everything, every detail matters. Show it to some others who will give you their honest opinion and input. Don’t necessarily make every suggested change but if you get the same one a couple of times it might be worth making a change.


In the next two weeks, whether looking for a new job or not, bring your CV up to date.

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