How do I write a great CV and covering letter?

Whether you’re applying for a job, a scholarship or to get into your dream university course, writing a covering letter and CV is a real art.

We’ve asked our experts to give us their top tips on how to put together a successful application.

In this short film, our experts explain what makes a CV and cover letter stand out.

CVs and applications: Top tips

  • Make sure your covering letter is short and snappy – they will be reading hundreds of them, so if something’s not necessary, don’t include it
  • A good cover letter will make the reader want to know more about you. It is, first and foremost, a good piece of writing that tells your story
  • Employers want someone who’s different, with distinctive skills
  • But different doesn’t always mean ‘quirky’! Think of the industry you want to work in: if you’re applying to work at a prestigious law firm, a pink CV might not go down well!
  • Generic CVs don’t work: they need to be tailored to the job you’re applying for
  • While 75% of your CV (such as your personal details, education and work experience) will remain the same, the other 25% (for example: a personal statement, a skills profile or the more granular details about what you studied for a certain subject) needs to be relevant to that job
  • Look at the job description and what the employer is looking for, and match that with your experience
  • Give concrete examples. It’s easy to claim you’ve got excellent communication skills, but you need to back it up with evidence. Did you volunteer at a help line, or work in customer service? Or were you part of a debating team? Say it!
  • If you’re applying for a place at uni, they will want to know: why should we choose you and why do you want to study this course?
  • If you’re invited for an interview, your prospective tutors might ask you questions about books, films or anything else you may have mentioned in your personal statement – so don’t lie, and do your research!
  • Of course, it goes without saying: spellcheck your application and make sure your grammar is impeccable.
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