How to Write CVs and Cover Letters

Cover Letters

If you already know what a cover letter is, then feel free to forward this part. But for people who don't know, here's a definition for the question,  what is a cover letter? A cover letter is a formal letter that accompanies your CV when it goes to a recruiter / employer. It's another important tool in "selling" you, by highlighting your unique skills/talents/achievements and by filling in any gaps in information that a resume may not cover. 

The important thing to realise is that it is an essential formal piece of writing that tells the recruiter – in a nutshell – why you should get a job interview!

CVs

To complete your CV, you'll need to know your dates of employment at each of your previous role, when you went to school. You'll also need to be able to describe your skills and accomplishments on the job, so put some thought into those areas. Before you actually start writing, spend time just thinking about how you'll present yourself in the resume. What is your objective in seeking a job? This objective should serve as a sort of bull's-eye to structure your resume around. What have been your most significant accomplishments? You’ll want to highlight them. What unique qualities do you bring to an employer? Think in terms of benefits. 

Decide on a format and stick to it. Before you can start writing a resume, you'll need to decide if the functional or chronological format which will work best for you. Remember, you want to put yourself and your abilities in the best light. Keep it simple, easy to read font. Start with a Profile – clear, succinct and in the 3rd person format. Relevant education, don’t go back to primary school, the last 5 year summary of job history, professional bodies you belong too. Start with your most recent position first and be concise. Don't use "responsibilities included" or "responsible for." It's a waste of space. Use bullets, rather than long paragraphs.

Review, edit, and proofread like a maniac. One of the biggest resume mistakes is typos or grammatical errors. These errors may seem trivial, but they can cost you the interview, and ultimately the job. After all, if you can't be bothered to make sure that your resume is 100% accurate, what guarantee is there that your job performance will be high calibre? 

Get someone else you trust to look at it. It can be really helpful to get someone who knows you to look at your CV. Not only are they more likely to catch simple errors, but they may point out strengths you've missed or underemphasised. Tell them you want their honest opinion and you're open to questions. Use their input to clarify your CV. 

Keep it relevant and short. As a general rule 2 to 4 pages will allow you to present yourself in a professional manner on your CV. You can go into more detail in your job interview, your CV primarily is only to get you the job interview.