Creating a CV & writing a covering letter

The Curriculum Vitae (CV)

What is a CV?

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is one of the most important documents you will write during your career, so take your time and produce a good one. It is a sales tool to gain you an interview as the CV is the first piece of hard evidence on which a potential employer can judge you. If you produce a badly prepared document it will reduce the credibility of its content. An employer will think that if you can’t produce a professional document you are unlikely to prepare a professional sports surface. Badly written/laid out CVs usually equate to few, if any, interviews.

What are the Key Points to Consider when creating your CV?

  • A CV should be neat and typed, if possible, with straightforward font and formatting. You can access public computers at most libraries now have public computers, if you do not have one of your own.
  • The best time to write a CV is when you are in employment so you can take your time and keep reviewing it by taking sentences out or putting information in. This means that when you are ready to move on career-wise or find yourself unemployed the most important document in your job search is already completed or may only need fine tuning.
  • It may take three, four or more drafts to produce the finished CV.
  • The information you provide should be factual, accurate and concise. Ensure all the information is presented in the most positive way, highlight your skills and strengths using bullet points where appropriate and do not be modest about your career achievements.
  • Make sure you check and double check the document before you send it out, ask a friend to go through it in order to spot any mistakes.
  • If you have only just started your career and therefore, may only have information to cover one page do not compensate by using a large font so it covers two pages.
  • If you include your email address in the document make sure it is a professional one such asjohnturner@hotmail.co.uk and not a novelty one such as bigboy@hotmail.co.uk. You want to convey a professional image.
  • Do not include salary levels on your CV.
  • Always keep your CV up to date and accurate, add any newly acquired training courses for example.
  • Always spell check.
  • Never, never, never lie on a CV. Details can be checked.
  • A CV should be no more than two or three pages long and divided into logical sections.

Standard CV Layout

  • Personal Details - such as name, address, contact numbers, email address and possibly any professional social media presence etc. You no longer need to include your date of birth, owing to age discrimination rules
  • Profile – A brief opening statement designed to attract the reader’s attention and create the desire to read on. It should be general in nature and capture the essence of what you are professionally.
  • Work Experience - Detail in reverse chronological order. The first role to put down is your current position or most recent role. Start with name of employer, nature of their business, period of employment (dates started and finished include months as well as years) job title. Then put a paragraph or two together summarising your responsibilities and duties. Do not assume that the person reading your CV will know what a groundsman does, therefore you need to explain. Apply this format to each previous employer, but giving less space to earlier jobs. Write about former jobs in the past tense. Include any temporary or voluntary jobs if appropriate.
  • Education – Start with the most recent qualifications and list through in reverse chronological order.
  • Include your career-related qualifications, colleges attended and dates.
  • Include your last school, years attended and qualifications gained. There is no need to list your GCSE’s only the number you gained, unless you have only recently left school, then list the subjects.
  • Additional Skills/Attributes – such as driving licence, any other information you consider relevant, interests.
  • References – If you are happy for a potential employer to contact them, you can list your references, their address and contact details. If this causes concern you could put the stipulation that they can only be contacted once you have agreed it. Or leave their details out and put in the sentence - references on request

The Covering Letter

What is a covering letter?

A covering letter is a document that briefly highlights the skills or positions you held previously that are appropriate to the position you seek. It also can be used to add additional information that you think is important to the employer.

Describe how your skills and abilities will benefit the company.

Remember this will provoke the employer to read your CV.

What are the key points to consider when writing a covering letter?

  • Your letter should ideally be no more than one page long.
  • Make sure it is addressed correctly. If an advertisement says send your CV to the Bursar’s secretary, ring up the school and find out their name, plus if they are a Miss, Mrs or Ms so you can address the envelope and letter correctly. It also shows that you have used your initiative and made an effort.
  • Make sure your name and contact details are on the letter.
  • Use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. 
  • If the letter and CV are to be emailed make sure you are happy with the layout and have spell checked the documents.
  • Make sure you have attached the documents to the email.
  • Again make sure you are emailing using a professional / sensible email address such asjohnturner@hotmail.co.uk and not a novelty one such as bigboy@hotmail.co.uk. You want to convey a professional image.
  • If you are emailing your details ask the company to send an email receipt or phone and ask if they have received it. Emails do go missing so after the hard work of applying you want to make sure you are considered for the role
  • If they ask you to post your covering letter and CV, again check the layout and spelling. Print out on to good quality paper and ideally post in an A4 envelope or A3. This is because when the letter is opened there are less folds and it is easier to read. Again phone them to check they have received it.

Standard Layout of a covering letter

  • Within the first paragraph you should explain why you are writing. State the role you are applying for and where you saw it advertised (i.e. newspaper ad, professional organisation or colleague). 
  • The Main body of the letter should highlight your experience and qualifications and link them to the role. Read the vacancy carefully and if it asks, for example, for experience in cricket and a driving licence, make sure you state that you have experience in cricket from your time at such and such school as shown on your CV and that you have a full driving licence. It should invite the reader to seek more details about you from the enclosed CV. Also show you know something about the company you are applying to, for example you have used their products or heard they have a good reputation.
  • The closing paragraph pulls the letter together and details how they can contact you if they wish to progress your application.