8737-How to write a CV Leaflet by heatherrhunt

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									Careers Centre

How to write a CV
and covering

The right career for you
starts with us
p1.    What is a CV?

p1.    Sections normally included in a CV

p4.    Should I choose to write a Traditional CV or a Skills Based CV?

p5.    Example of a Traditional CV

p9.    Example of a Skills Based CV

p13. Possible format of a CV for an Academic post

p15. Checking your CV

p17. CV checklist

p19. What is a Covering Letter?

p22. Example of a Covering Letter

p23. Covering Letter checklist

p23. Dispatching your Covering Letter and CV

ibc.   Additional Information

obc. Further help and information
What is a CV?
Your CV is your opportunity to promote yourself to an employer. It is NOT just a
list of your education, employment history and interests.

A CV is both historical (i.e. tells how you got to where you are now) and current
(i.e. gives your present circumstances).

It is also a marketing statement, so a persuasive presentation of the information is

You should use a CV...
I to apply for a job which asks you to send a CV or ‘apply in writing’ and

I to make a speculative application to an organisation.

... but shouldn’t use one
I if the advertisement specifies use of an application form or

I if you are writing simply for further details.

Sections normally included in a CV:
The main sections of a CV are outlined below. You may choose to give sections
different headings according to the information you wish to convey. You would
generally start with your personal details but after that you can choose in what
order your sections will run.

Your sections will vary too depending on whether you choose a Traditional CV or a
Skills based CV (see examples in this handout and on our website –

1. Personal Details
I Your full name will usually be at the top in bold big letters. It is not necessary to
    write ‘Curriculum Vitae’.
I Addresses (home and term-time with dates at which you will be at each address),
    telephone numbers (land line and mobile) and a current e-mail address. (Under
    Equal Opportunities, date of birth, nationality and marital status are optional and
    NOT required.)

2. Education and Qualifications
I Start with your most recent qualification and education first.

I Main focus should be on degree or most recent qualification (highlighting any
    projects/modules undertaken which are relevant to the job for which you are
I ‘A’ level subjects (or equivalent) and their grades need listing.

I Grades attained at GCSE (or equivalent) require only a brief summary –
    e.g. 8 GCSEs, 3 As, 5 Bs including Maths, English and Science.

3. Work Experience/Work History/Employment History
I Start with most recent first. Include work placements, summer jobs, voluntary
    work, permanent, temporary or part-time work. You will have learned something
    from all of them.
I Allow two or three lines to describe duties of work that you consider most
    relevant (in its content and in the skills it enabled you to develop). Don’t waffle –
    try to describe concisely.
I You may want to highlight very relevant or similar experience in a separate
    section headed ‘Relevant Experience’ or ‘Media Experience’ or ‘I.T. Experience’.

4. Other Skills and Achievements
I Not a section you necessarily have to include but can be useful if you have limited
  work experience. You might include a driving licence, typing speed (and
  qualifications) qualified first aider, and any competence with languages.
I Skills that many students gain at university, but underestimate, are Word-
  processing and Internet researching, both of which add to general competence
  and confidence with a computer. You may not feel like an expert but remember
  that many people do not even know the basics – don’t let an employer assume the
  same of you!

5. Interests and Activities
I This section shows you are human and helps the recruiters see you as a whole
  person. It also gives you the chance (out of a work context) to emphasise the
  skills they are looking for i.e. team work, co-operation, organising, motivating,
  leading, self-discipline, etc.
I Avoid straight lists – expand a little i.e. membership/positions of responsibility of
  any clubs or societies, the level you play sport/musical instruments, etc.
I It is important not to invent interests. An employer may pick something they
  consider unusual from this section and quiz you on it at interview.

6. Referees
I You would normally quote a tutor as your first referee and possibly a
  present/previous employer or someone else (NOT family) who knows you well.
I Always ask them first and if they agree include their name, job title, address,
  telephone number and e-mail (if possible).
I It is acceptable to write ‘On Request’ under Referees on your CV if you would
  prefer not to give their names straight away or are running out of space!

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the Leeds Guide to Career Planning (annual
publication) from the Careers Centre for more useful information on CVs and how
to identify and evidence your skills.

Should I choose to write a Traditional CV or
a Skills based CV?
The choice is really down to you and some students have both. Many students
follow these suggestions:
I Traditional CVs are very clearly laid out and let the employer see exactly what
    and where your experience is and the skills you developed from that. Your
    experience and skills are grouped together and basically says, “Look at all this
    experience and the skills I have developed!”
I Skills based CVs primarily draw the employer’s attention to your skills (and away
    from your experience) and they can see that you have developed communication
    skills (for example) from many different sources such as work experience,
    interests and academic study but still see a summary of your work experience if
    they wish. Your skills are grouped separately and basically say, “Look at all these
    transferable skills I have developed – I can use these to do this job!”

Important points if you are a Research Student
The same rules given in this booklet apply, except it can be longer and you should
look to include:
I Past, current and ongoing research interests

I Published research and articles

I Details of professional memberships and responsibilities

I Details of presentations made at conference

I Any prizes and awards received

I Teaching and administration experience where relevant

(A possible format for a CV is shown in this booklet but on the application section
of our website (careerweb.leeds.ac.uk/go/cv.asp) there are further examples.)

Five Important Points about CVs:

1. Don’t use the same CV for each application you   3. No lengthy detail – keep it punchy and precise
   make – tailor and target your CV to each job.       using bullet points if necessary.
2. Two sides of A4 is the standard (unless you      4. Make sure all time is accounted for – ‘gaps’ are
   have a PhD or a very long work history and 3-4      always spotted.
   may be acceptable – see below for more           5. Consistent in chronology – most recent to past
   information).                                       in education.

Examples of a Traditional CV

                                 Pamela Brown
                             97 Brooke Street, Ipswich, IP4 3RL

Tel: 01449 789152                                           Driving licence: Full, clean
Mobile: 07986 574938


Organised, personable BA Hons History finalist with commercial experience seeks a
communications, fund raising or events organising role in the public or voluntary sector,
preferably in heritage management or the arts.


09/05 – 05/08 University of Leeds
              BA Hons Modern History (predicted 2.1)

               Subjects studied: Russia in Revolution, 1905 to 1917; World War II, The
               Vietnam War; Black Rights in America in the Twentieth Century.

              Dissertation: “Patterns of women’s voting in Alabama 1940-1990”

              Developed good written and oral communication and an awareness of
              conceptual tools for interpretation; research and presentation skills; worked
              well on my own and as part of a team for tutorial work; set my own deadlines
              and managed my time effectively under pressure, whilst successfully
              combining part time work and study up to the start of my final year.

              School of History’s ‘Harrison Prize’ for outstanding work (2007).

09/98 – 06/05 New Park Community High School, Ipswich
              A levels: History (A), English Lit (B), German (B)
              8 GCSEs grade A or A*, including Maths and English

Employment History

11/05 – 05/07 Telesales, Northern Electricity, Leeds

   •   Developed excellent telephone skills in a pressurised business environment
   •   Worked as part of a team to achieve set business and sales targets
   •   Developed excellent interpersonal skills dealing with customers and other members
       of staff
   •   Showed flexibility by slotting into shifts at short notice to cover illness

    06/03 – 09/05 Retail Assistant, Travel Time, Ipswich

       •   Started as a summer job then negotiated a subsequent part-time Saturday job while
           I was in the sixth form
       •   Used databases to book online holidays which improved my information
           management skills
       •   Developed relevant subject knowledge in order to deal with customer enquiries in
           person and by telephone,
       •   Progressed to responsibility for training new members of staff after taking a short in-
           house training course
       •   Deputised for supervisor, including managing staff and cashing up; prioritised and
           delegated tasks, organised rotas and dealt with any difficult queries

    Positions of Responsibility

       •   Mentored younger children in local primary school on Wednesday afternoons whilst
           in the sixth form, devising imaginative approaches to learning
       •   Active member of the University’s Aim Higher programme: raised awareness of
           higher education opportunities in local schools through quizzes and other activities;
           assisted in running taster courses in the University and contributed to a quarterly
           newsletter which was distributed to schools
       •   Elected treasurer of the University History Society in 2006: maintained the society’s
           accounts; collected subscriptions from members and organised trips to historic sites;
           increased the membership by 100%

       •   Costed, planned and led camping trips for my local church youth group
       •   Voluntary weekend guide for Fountains Abbey and Braithwaite Hall, which gives me
           a chance to use my French and German language skills
       •   Music – I write music reviews for the University student newspaper
       •   I have recently got involved in the university Hockey team

    Other Skills

       •   Proficient in Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel and Access
       •   Familiar with the basics of HTML, in the process of creating my own website


    Dr. I Crosby, Personal Tutor                                Ms B Anderson, Manager
    Department of History                                       Northern Electricity
    University of Leeds                                         9 Rose Square
    Oxford Road                                                 Leeds
    Leeds                                                       LS2 9PK
    LS13 8UJ                                                    Tel: 0113 882883
    Tel: 0113 275 4632                                          andersonb@nelec.co.uk

Examples of a Skills Based CV

Possible format of a CV for an
Academic post

Checking your CV
This is possibly the most important part of the entire CV process. A small error, or
misleading information, can seriously undermine all your effort.

I At graduate level, grammar, spelling and punctuation should all be impeccable.

I Ensure that details, contact numbers and references are accurate (e.g. claiming to
  be proficient in Quark Express sounds dubious when the software package is
  actually called Quark Xpress!).

I Attention to detail is a skill that is important in all jobs and it begins with your
  CV. If you have had to produce a CV at short notice then checking the details is
  especially important.

I FACT: Approximately 70 per cent of CVs received have at least one mistake in
  them. The most common error on a CV is the misuse of apostrophes in it’s text.
  Did you notice that one at the end of the last sentence?

I Proof reading your own work is difficult. Preferably get someone else to check it
  for you. Don’t just look for textual errors, but use common sense and question
  the logic in descriptive pieces. Do not rely solely on a spell-checker (they do not
  distinguish between ‘where’ and ‘were’ for instance and sometimes the computer
  will correct the USA way, as most University of Leeds computers do, so always
  check for the correct English UK spelling).

Facts and fiction
Lying on your CV is done so at your own peril. We’re all guilty of occasionally using
our imagination, but sooner or later you will be expected to deliver according to
your claims. Psychometric testing and interview skills are often effective in weeding
out inaccurate detail. Rather than being vague with details that are inadequate (a
dead give-away) leave them out and focus on other allied skills which you are
confident with. Honesty is a good virtue valued by employers.

Minimising negatives
All of us have so-called ‘holes’ in our CVs, areas that may show ourselves in a
negative light. Instead of trying to hide it or cover up you can reduce the point, or
turn it to your advantage by focusing on another skill which compensates for this.

Here are some potential pitfalls, and suggestions for dealing with them. In most of
the scenarios below, we suggest you use a skills-based CV format. This gives you
more scope for reducing or leaving out details that expose negatives (see example in
this handout).

I Career/degree change: give positive reasons for changing career/degree direction,
  place emphasis on your determination and courage to make the move. Make your
  past sound relevant. Be open and honest.

I Foreign qualifications: establish the local equivalent of your qualifications with
  NARIC (http://www.support4learning.org.uk/education/naric.htm) and state this
  on your CV. Alternatively specify the length of your study, the number of subjects
  and the institution you attended as a means of showing the standard of the

I Gaps in your CV: if you’ve taken time out to travel or pursue a different activity,
  this is perfectly acceptable so try to accentuate how the experience has benefited
  you. Don’t lie, it’s important not to give the impression that you’ve been sitting
  around doing nothing for six months. Informal study or recovering from illness
  are feasible explanations provided you can back them up.

CV Checklist
Personal Detail
1. Will the employer be able to contact you easily? Postal address, telephone number
   and e-mail address.
2. Do your personal details account for no more than one third of a page?

1. Does this section include more than a listing of qualifications and grades?
2. Have you mentioned the skills you developed on your course and given examples
   of how you have developed them?
3. Is there a team project that you could discuss?
4. Have you received any scholarships or awards that would show relevant skills?

1. Have you included a broad range of experience? What about work in a family
   business, or involvement in university societies?
2. Have you mentioned the skills that you have developed from this experience and
   given examples of how you have developed them?

1. Have you clearly demonstrated evidence of skills outlined in the job specification?
2. What about fundraising, group projects or societies you are involved with?

1. Have you listed your interests and expanded on each one demonstrating the skills
   you have developed from these?

1. Have you included 2 references – 1 Academic and 1 Employer?
2. Can they be contacted easily?

1. Has it been checked for spelling, grammar and the correct use of language?
2. Does it follow a consistent layout with a good size, easy to read font (min 11pt)?
3. Do the dates follow in the same reverse chronological order for your education
   and employment?
4. Is the most relevant information given priority on the pages/the most space?
5. Do your section headings clearly reflect what information the sections contain?

     What is a Covering Letter?
     The covering letter introduces you and makes references to your CV, expanding on
     skills, abilities and experience which make you particularly suitable for the post for
     which you are applying.

     Whether you are applying for a job or writing a speculative letter to a company,
     your covering letter could make the difference between getting an interview or not.

     What should the Covering Letter include?
     I A covering letter should be concise and ideally no more than one page long. It
       needs to introduce you to the potential employer, say what you want to do for the
       employer, and show how and why you are suited for that particular work.

     I The style of the covering letter should be reasonably formal and business-like and
       match the CV or application form you are sending. It should be typed using a
       clear font and on good quality, plain white or cream paper, preferably the same as
       the CV. If you are e-mailing it, make it look business-like.

     I Always write to a named individual, whether you are applying for a job or
       writing a speculative letter. If you don’t know who to address the letter to, use
       your initiative and contact the company to find out the name of the relevant
       person. Make sure you check the spelling of their name, no one likes to have their
       name spelled incorrectly.

19                                                                                       19
Format of Covering Letter:
1. Introduction:
Who you are and why you are writing. Indicate your present situation.
The opening paragraph should let the reader know who you are and why you are
writing to them. If you are writing to apply for a position with their
company/organisation, make clear which position you are applying for and where
you saw the advertisement. Give the title and date of the publication that the
vacancy was advertised in. For speculative letters, outline and be
specific about the kind of work you are looking for.

2. Why You?
Why are you are interested in the job? What particular skills/abilities/experience you
have to offer. Sell yourself on the basis that these skills/abilities/experience meet the
requirements of the job.
Explain why you want to work there and emphasise what you can do for the
company. Avoid using phrases like ‘I think I could gain valuable experience with
your company’ or ‘this is an area of my skill I have always wanted to develop’. The
employer will hire you for what you can do for the company, not for what you think
you can get from working there. Be keen, but genuine and avoid using clichéd

3. Why Them?
Try to show you have done your research.
You need to show an interest in the position you are applying for and that you have
some knowledge of the employer/organisation. Find out about the company by
looking for other advertisements it may have, search the Internet for its website,
look through the company’s literature and scan business journals and newspapers for
other general information. Refer to any recent news about the company, this will
show you understand what the company is about.

20                                                                                          20
     4. Positive conclusion:
     When you are available for interview and that you look forward to hearing from
     them, etc.
     Don’t let your letter fizzle out at the end with just a bland ‘Yours sincerely’. Finish
     the letter with a strong, proactive phrase that sets the scene for the next stage –
     being called in for an interview, e.g. I am available for interview at your convenience
     and would welcome the opportunity of meeting you. If you have addressed the letter
     to a named person (and you should have done), you should end the letter with
     ‘Yours sincerely’, if you wrote Dear Sir or Madam, it should end with ‘Yours

     The CV and covering letter together form the package that is marketing you to the
     employer. The decision to interview is based on both what you have done to date
     and how you present yourself.

     Five Important Points about Covering Letters:

     1. Aim for one side of A4.                      3. Be positive – this is your sales pitch.
     2. Do not simply repeat information from your   4. Hand written or typed covering letters
        CV though you may tie the two together,         are acceptable although you will get
        e.g. As you will see from my CV I have          more information in if you type.
        extensive experience in...                   5. Never photocopy a covering letter for
                                                        another employer/job.

21                                                                                                21
Example of a Covering Letter
                                                                                              7 Roman Terrace
                                                                                                    LS6 9BY
     Mr Simon Gallagher
     Deloitte Consulting                                                                  26th November 2007
     1 Stonecutter Court
     EC4 4BU

     Dear Mr Gallagher

     I am currently in my final year of a BA (Hons) Economics and French degree at the University of Leeds. I
     am writing to you with regard to the graduate opportunities that I have seen advertised in Hobson’s
     Directory 2007. This information, and that contained on your web site, has strengthened my desire to work
     for Deloitte Consulting and I therefore enclose my C.V. to be considered for your Business Analyst

     As you can see, I possess all the qualities necessary to be successful in a career in consultancy. I have achieved
     the highest academic results throughout my school and university life and have developed a high range of
     transferable skills through a wide variety of extra-curricular activities and employment. I pursued my interest
     in business issues by getting involved in AIESEC Leeds in my first year and being elected Treasurer in 2007.
     As such I was required to work as part of a team to organise various management training events. This
     experience enhanced my team working and communication skills and my ability to deal with problems in
     stressful situations. I also demonstrated my initiative during my second year, when I established the
     University of Leeds Wine Society with my housemates. This task taught me a great deal about how to
     motivate a team when enthusiasm wanes. Furthermore, the intensive training I completed in order to be a
     volunteer for Nightline has further developed my communication and interpersonal skills. I now feel that I
     am both an articulate speaker and effective listener.

     I have shown my ability to adapt to new situations through my range of work experience, notably my
     internship with HSBC where I worked in various departments across the organisation.

     Deloitte Consulting attracts me because of the variety offered within your training scheme. It would provide
     me with an experience in a number of different aspects of management consultancy therefore enabling me to
     obtain a true insight into the role. The quality and support of training available within your organisation, as
     shown by your Investors in People award, is also important to me. I strongly believe that management
     consultancy offers a breadth of opportunities through which I can make a positive contribution to the
     success of Deloitte Consulting.

     I would be available to work from the beginning of September 2007 and look forward to hearing from you
     in the near future.

     Yours sincerely


Covering Letter Checklist
I Is it to a named individual?

I Is it addressed and dated correctly?

I Is it easy to read and laid out clearly?

I Does the letter show an enthusiasm for the position for which you are applying?

I Does it show an understanding of the employer?

I Does it show clearly what you can offer the employer?

I Has it got a positive ending?

I Have you double-checked to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical

Now, read through it one last time, you’re bound to find one final mistake!

Dispatching your Covering Letter and CV
There are three main methods of dispatching a CV. Check which method the
company has asked you to use before deciding! You may be given 2 options i.e.
e-mail or post so you can decide which method you are most comfortable with.

Submitting your CV by e-mail is becoming much more popular and common. It also
saves on postage – another good reason to use this method! However always ask for
confirmation from the employer that they have received your CV and letter. Many
employers will have set up an automated response so that as soon as it is sent into
their in-box, the system is automatically set up to e-mail you confirmation.

Formatting your CV for e-mail can sometimes be a nightmare. Text versions
including the CV in the main body of the e-mail can cause all kinds of problems and
should be avoided. Line breaks, tabs and all other formatting can just disappear
altogether leaving your CV looking like a random assortment of alphabetical fridge
magnets. It is best to save your CV as a Microsoft Word document and send it as an
attachment to ensure that everyone can view it properly.

An alternative to this is the Adobe Acrobat format. A plug in for Microsoft Word
allows you to save your document as a non-editable acrobat file. Most computer
systems can read the acrobat format but to be on the safe side it should be included
as well as the word document.

*Note! A problem with word documents is that spelling of unusual names can
appear as a spelling mistake, underlined in red. Although this won’t show up in the
print out it doesn’t look too good on the screen. To avoid this, right click on the
word and select the ‘ignore’ option.

This is still a popular method and commonly used by students. It’s important to
print your CV on good quality paper using a high-resolution printer. All this
increases the appearance of your CV, shows that you aren’t desperately sending out
your CV en-masse and always gives a professional impression.

Use only white or cream paper. It’s quite likely that your CV will be photocopied or
faxed and coloured paper only makes this more difficult. Always post your CV in an
A4 envelope, as it looks much more professional and will make it easier to handle
and read.

Fax is a rarely used, rarely preferred, method of submitting your CV.

If you must submit your CV by fax, phone to let them know when you’re about to
send it. This will avoid it getting lost between everyone else’s faxes.

One important thing to remember is that the received fax will have a font size one
point smaller than the original. If you have reduced your font size to make it fit on
one page, it’s best to restore it to around 11 point size and spread it over two pages.
If your CV font size is less than 11, and already on two pages, it’s time to start
trimming it. Doing a test by using a fax to make a copy of your CV is always a good
idea. When you come to send it put it on “Fine” mode as this will give a higher
resolution output.

Additional Information
Careers Centre Website
The application section of our website, careerweb.leeds.ac.uk/go/cv.asp offers
practical advice on completing CVs with examples of Traditional, Skills-based and
Academic CVs. You can also download the CV &/or Applications Workbooks
used in the workshops in the Careers Centre.

Other Useful Websites

Reference Books
There are various reference books in the Information Room that you can borrow
overnight. Please ask for further information.

Would a CV template help you to begin writing your CV?
CV and resume templates can be found in Microsoft Word. Use these ONLY AS
GUIDES for your own design. Employers know how to spot the ‘Microsoft CV’ and
you could be at a disadvantage if you do not bother to personalise it.

The University of Leeds Careers Centre
Opening hours: 9.00am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday
Tel: 0113 343 5295















                                    OB                                                                GYM
                                         ER                                                                           UNIVERSITY

                                              RY                                                                      REFECTORY
                                                   ST                                                                 & STUDENT

                                                        RE                                                              UNION


        This Booklet is printed using recycled
        white silk art board and art paper.

                                                                                                                                      Careers Centre
                                                                                                                                 5-7 Cromer Terrace
                                                                                                                                University of Leeds,
                                                                                                                                Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
                                                                                                                                  t 0113 343 5295
September 2008                                                                                                              w careerweb.leeds.ac.uk

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