CVs and Covering Letters

An employer may spend just 30 to 90 seconds reading your CV & covering letter, so it is vital you set it out in a way which is  clearly-structured and easy to follow.  

CVs

Watch our video on creating the perfect CV


A well written and structured CV is your key marketing tool. It should:

  • Demonstrate you have the skills and ability to do the job
  • Provide credible evidence of your experience
  • Be two pages long - Academic Cvs will be longer
  • Persuade the employer to invite you to interview.

When putting your CV together, you need to make sure it is tailored as closely as possible to the role. The most effective way to do this is to refer to the person specification which comes with the job description. If you can give solid evidence for every aspect of the person specification within your CV, there is a good chance that you will be invited for interview.

There are a few main ways to present a graduate CV:

  • Skills-based - focussing on your transferable skills in relation to your chosen role
  • Chronological - focussing on your education and work experience
  • Academic - if you are applying for a teaching or research role in a university you will need to include the publications and conferences you have attended. 

 lightbulbThings to do

If you are applying for a job of which you don’t have much direct experience, a skills-based CV will be more effective, as you will be able to show that you have all the relevant transferable skills for the role, even if you haven’t done the job before.

If you are applying for a job where you already have significant  direct experience, a chronological CV could be more effective, as you can show your knowledge and understanding of the tasks involved. 

Covering Letters


Your covering letter is just as important as your CV when applying for jobs. An employer will want to know why you have chosen to apply for a particular role and also why you have chosen to apply to their company or organisation. It’s also a good chance to summarise your skills and experience.

It is very important to tailor your covering letter as closely as possible to the role you’ve applied for – the more you can show your motivation for the role and your research into the organisation you’re applying to, the more successful you are likely to be. Your covering letter needs to cover the best part of one page.

Your covering letter offers you the chance to tell the employer in a more personal style why you want a particular job and why you would be a good candidate for it. 

If you are sending your covering letter via email be careful to include your name in the file name, otherwise, it may not be obvious that the document relates to you.  

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