CVs and Covering Letters
University of Kent Careers Advisory
You can download a copy of this
Research by forum3 found:
The average graduate will send out 70 CVs when looking
for their first graduate job. The average number of responses
is 7 including 4 rejections and the remainder inviting the
graduate to interview or further contact.
The more CVs you send out the more interviews you get.
Applicants who included a covering letter with their CV were
10% more likely to get a reply.
Applicants who addressed their application to the correct
named person were 15% more likely to get a letter of
acknowledgement and 5% more likely to get an interview.
Applicants sending CVs and letters without spelling mistakes
are 61% more likely to get a reply and 26% more likely to get
The most common mistakes not found in a spell check
were: fro instead of for, grate: great, liased: liaised,
Other turn-offs: misspelling the name of the company or the
addressee, not having a reply address on the CV and trying to
How not to do it ….
Place of birth? - A London hospital
Size of employer: about 5’ 10”
My health good, that of my parents not so good.
Working on a farm has improved my communication skills which are
especially important when working with large livestock.
Applying for job at biscuit company: my life-long love of chocolate
biscuits, is the main reason for my interest in the company
It's best for employers that I not work with people
On an application for a position requiring considerable people skills -
My hobbies include watching television, computer chess, stamp
collecting and walking my 2 spaniels.
Reason for leaving last job: my employers insisted that all employees
get to work by 8.45 am and I could not work under those conditions.
I am seeking challenges that test my mind and body, since the two
are usually inseparable.
I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.
What is the purpose of a CV?
To inform the employer about
– work experience
To persuade the employer that
you are potentially suitable for
the job and are therefore worth
Brian O'dea - the author of this received
about 600 responses.
Having successfully completed a ten year sentence,
incident-free, for importing 75 tons of marijuana into the
United States. I am now seeking a legal and legitimate
means to support my self and my family.
Business Experience - Owned and operated a successful
fishing business - multi-vessel, one airplane, one island and
processing facility. Simultaneously owned and operated a
fleet of tractor-trailer trucks conducting business in the
western United States. During this time I also co-owned and
participated in the executive level management of 120
people worldwide in a successful pot smuggling venture
with revenues in excess of US$100 million annually. I took
responsibility for my own actions, and received a ten year
sentence in the United States while others walked free for
Attributes - I am an expert in all levels of security; I have
extensive computer skills, am personable, outgoing, well-
educated, reliable, clean and sober. I have spoken in
schools to thousands of kids and parent groups over the
past ten years on "the consequences of choice", and
received public recognition for community service. I am
well-traveled and speak English, French and Spanish.
References available from friends, family, the U.S. District
PRESENTATION OF YOUR CV
Use short sentences & concise phrases
The first visual impression your CV
makes is important
Use plain white or pale A4 size paper
Check yore speling!
Use bold type and bullet points, but in
BSc. And MSc. Not Bsc or MSC!
Don’t use lower case I: “i am ……”
Choose a sensible email address for your CV:
What is wrong with this?
Why you need to use a
I am a prefectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.
Proven ability to track down and correct erors.
I have good writen comunication skills.
Lurnt Word Perfect computor and spreadsheet pogroms.
Develop an annual operating expense fudget…
And why you must read it carefully as well
Extra Circular Activities
At secondary school I was a prefix
Over summer I worked for an examinations bored. (Kent BA English graduate!)
In my spare time I enjoy hiding my horse
I hope to hear from you shorty
I am a conscious individual.
Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave
I have a desire to work with commuters
Dear Madman (instead of Madam)
My hobbits include - instead of 'hobbies'
I am sicking and entry-level position
Summer 2000 Sainsbury's, Canterbury
This job developed my ability
to deal with the public and
work under pressure
Don’t feel you have to include every job
“In addition to the above, I have held a variety
of temporary jobs during school and university
vacations, including fruit-picking, factory
work, bar work and waiting on tables”
Reading, cinema, stamp-collecting,
Cinema: member of the University Film-
Travel: traveled through Europe by train this
summer in a group of four people, visiting
historic sites and improving my French and
Reading: helped younger pupils with reading
difficulties at school
Types of CV
outline your career history in date order,
normally beginning with the most recent
items. The "conventional" approach and the
easiest to prepare.
highly-focused CVs which relate your skills
and abilities to a specific job.
work well for mature applicants and for
those whose qualifications and work
experience are not directly relevant to their
P 14 Applications Booklet
THE COVERING LETTER
One side of A4 maximum
First Paragraph Third Paragraph
State the job you’re applying Summarise your strengths
for. and how they might be an
Where you found out about it. advantage to the
When you're available to start
work (& end if it's a Relate your skills to the job.
placement) Last Paragraph
Second Paragraph Mention any dates that you
Why your interested in that won't be available for
type of work interview
Why the company attracts you Thank the employer and say
(if it's a small company say you look forward to hearing
you prefer to work for a small from them soon.
– Many employers are happy to accept
CVs as an attachment to an email.
Put your covering letter as the body of
your email. Format it as plain text (use the
format heading on Outlook Express to do
this), so it can be read by any email reader.
Your CV is then sent as an attachment,
in MS Word format, Rich Text (.rtf) or html
format are acceptable. Say you'll send a
printed CV if required.
Email it back to yourself first to check it.
Making applications using
CAREERS WEB SITE
Help with applications and interviews
Example CVs and Covering Letters
DUTY CAREERS ADVISER
Ask a careers adviser’s opinion if
you have any doubts or queries
about your CV
A Duty Careers Adviser is available to
help with queries between 10.30 am -
12.30 p.m. and 2.00 - 5.00 p.m. every
No appointment needed - just drop in.
Moodle Careers Employability Award
Assessed by a range of tests and assignments
It will greatly improve your career planning and
jobhunting skills increasing your work readiness and
giving you the confidence and strategies to make
appropriate career choices.
Takes about 12 hours to complete
On completion you will get a University of Kent
Careers Employability Award to add to your CV
Current students can gain 40 Kent Employability
points for successful completion of the module.
CVs and Covering Letters
University of Kent Careers Advisory
You can download a copy of this
How long should a CV be?
How long should a covering letter
What is the sweet spot of a CV?
What is a reverse chronological CV?
Use spelling and grammar checker
Can cut and paste sentences from
CV examples to make sure English
Think about the job
CVs are normally targeted on a particular
What tasks would the daily routine
What skills would the job call for?
What type of personality would suit the
Answers for 300 jobs on:
PROVING YOUR ABILITY
There are four main things employers look at in CVs:
• Education - ability to think clearly, analyse and
assess information, draw conclusions, work
independently, research, etc
• Work experience - ability to get on with people,
work under pressure, meet deadlines, etc
• Leisure interests - ability to plan and organise, co-
operate with others, compete, work hard to achieve
• Specific skills – e.g. driving licence, computing or
foreign language skills
Examples of evidence of skills:
Verbal Communication - assisted visitors of
many nationalities as a seasonal Tourist
Information Assistant, advising on places of
interest, transport and accommodation and
helping resolve any problems
Time Management - have successfully
combined studies with a part-time job and
involvement in a number of drama and music
Good attitude to teamwork. Friendly and cheerful
Proactive: able to use initiative. “No problem, I’ll do it!”
Problem solvers, not problem creators!
Flexible and adaptable: learns new skills quickly.
Enthusiastic, motivated Excellent communication skills –
dealing confidently with students, take phone messages
Organised and efficient. Able to plan and organise their
own workload. Work to strict deadlines
Microsoft Office: ECDL. Familiarity with databases,
Excel and the web
All last about 25 minutes and are
When should a CV be used?
When an employer asks for
applications to be received in this
When an employer simply states
"apply to ..." without specifying the
When making speculative applications
(i.e. when writing to an employer who
has not actually advertised a vacancy
but who you hope may have one)