A Job Seekers Super Guide to Landing Your Next Role – Part 1 (CVs and Cover Letters)

Having trouble knowing where to start in your job search? Never written a CV before or have not written one for a while.  I want to help! Having a worked in HR for a while and having the opportunity to review CVs on a regular basis,  I created this Job seekers super guide to help give you some useful tips in your job search to try to help you land the role you are looking for sooner. 

What on earth is this guide all about?

Across the world so many people are now looking for jobs, many of which have sadly been made redundant. Before the epidemic started the job market was hard enough to find a role, with a lot of fresh competition and so many candidates in the market. So many different experiences, so many different educational backgrounds, so many skills, it was very competitive and it is even more so now. That is why I have created this guide which is a full guide for jobs seekers to help them in their search for their next job. I really hope this will be useful to each and every single one of you. 

I want you to know that it is so important for each of you to stay positive and for you to know not to give up because you will find something soon, just hang on in there and do your best to take advantage of every single opportunity. It is very easy to say stay positive but in reality of course there will be days where you feel so frustrated that you have not been selected for a role and that is absolutely okay. Take a break from the search, try to do what makes you happy and refresh your mind and then when you are ready get back up and start looking for that job you are waiting for, it could be just around the corner. Who knows? 

It may take a few days; may take a few weeks it may take a little while longer but it takes one person to open up that door for you . I hope this guide is a way that can help each of you in your job searches and I want you to know if you need any further help please do get in touch. In this guide I will cover a  variety of topics mainly focusing on CV Writing and How to write a great Cover Letter. Here are some top tips to get you started on your journey.  CV Writing Top Tips 

  1. Keep your CV short and concise to a maximum of two pages long. 

  2. Personalise it every time. Do not make the mistake of sending out a generic CV to every role you apply for because this will not work. Now when I say personalise it every time it means have a look at the job description in which you are applying for and make sure the skills which are listed on the job ad ensure they are on your CV. Of course, only if you have those skills you do not want to be falsifying your CV claiming you have certain skills which you do not.  Also give an insight of why you would like to work for the company. 

  3. No photograph and no address are needed. Leave them off your CV. Photographs can leave room for discrimination. Some employers will completely disregard the CV if there is a photograph on it due to claims of discrimination. 

  4. Proofread your CV. Always check for grammar and spelling mistakes. If you can get someone else to proofread your CV in case you have missed something. Friends, family or colleagues. 

  5. CVs should be mainly based on key achievements rather than duties and responsibilities and by this I mean do not just simply list everything you have done within the role. Instead list what you specifically achieved, what did you contribute and what was the end result or the success at the end.  Any one can write duties but it is always great to tell a potential employer what value you added in your previous organisation. 

  6. Add on volunteering, online course and unpaid internships When writing CVs people tend to  have the tendency to always add on face to face courses that they have attended and they leave out online course, thinking that they are less important. Add these in as they are all valuable, it also shows the employer you have a keen interest in CPD and self-development. 

CV Structure Guidance

For those of you who may not have written a CV at all before and it may be your first CV that you are writing, you may not have a clear idea on the structure which should be used. Here is a breakdown to simplify your CV helping it to read free flowing down the page. I have highlighted key words in bold to help you easily identify key points which are needed in each of the sections. 

  1. Top of CV: At the start of the page write your name in larger letter than what you would normally write. Underneath you can add in your contact details such as phone number and email address. Underneath you can then add in the job role name you are looking to acquire. 

  2. Personal Profile: This is the first main section of your CV; the first few lines are so important as this is the first impression the Hiring Manager will get of you. This section will ultimately determine whether the reader will continue to read or will not bother reading on. In this section start with a catchy phrase to open up about you. Introduce yourself, be unique, be creative and capture the readers attention. Do not whatever you do start with “My name is ……” I have seen this on many CVs it is just a repeat of the top of your CV. In this section introduce yourself, your skills, career goals, aspirations and explain what value you can add to an organisation. 

  3. Key Achievements: This section can really help to display your key achievements and will help you stand out from the crowd. List three to five bullet points detailing key achievements within your career. If you are just starting out in your career and this is the first job you are applying to have a think about what you have achieved throughout your life. Some examples could be from University, School, College, Any projects that you have took part in, any awards you have won, anything that could demonstrate transferrable skills3-5 Bullet points of key achievements maximum of two lines each. It should detail what you done and what problem it solved.

  4. Career Summary or Work Experience: This section is for you to list previous job roles. This section should include start date and end date, job role, company and a few key achievements within the role. Ensure to put job roles in order of dates so the most up to date/recent at the top and then in order. To be clear the oldest roles which you started out in should be at the bottom of the list. This section can be names either career summary or work experience. 

  5. Education and Qualifications: This is the section to include your education (I.e. degree) or professional qualifications. Depending on how many you have you may want to have a separate box for Education and Qualifications. Within the section you should list them in order of most recently attained, so those that you have recently completed should be at the top. This section should have the course name or qualification name, To and From Dates,  The Institute name which you studied at and Grade Attained. 

  6. Interests and Hobbies: This section is about finding out more about you. It should be related to your interests in relation to your career in some way. 

  7. References available upon request: There is no need to list references on your cv you can just mention the above. 

Recap of CV Structure

So that is the main Structure which should be used to present your CV. So just to recap: 

  • Name at the top, contact details and role name. 

  • Personal Profile

  • Key Achievements

  • Work Experience

  • Education/Qualifications

  • Interests and Hobbies

  • References Available Upon Request. 

So now you have your cv and you are ready to go out and start applying. Remember there are many ways of getting your name out there. Word of mouth through family and friends, through job boards such as Indeed, Reed, Linkedin Jobs and more. You should also aim to utilise the LinkedIn platform entirely not just the Linkedin Jobs section.  You can get into contact with potential Recruiters or Potential Hiring Managers or companies through direct message. There are many ways of finding a job, it is all about presenting yourself against the competition. Make sure you have a CV, Cover Letter and Linkedin Profile. 

Cover Letters

Cover Letters should be used as a supporting document alongside your CV.  It is really important to realise that a Cover Letter should not just be a replication of your CV instead it is an opportunity for you to go further into detail on key areas about yourself and your experience. Cover Letters should be a maximum of 2 pages long. 

What to include in a Cover Letter

  1. Provide an explanation of why you would be a good fit for the role:  What key skills do you have  and what do you have what that makes you different from others? What can you bring to the organisation? Do not forget to share further key achievements throughout your career. 

  2. Let your personality shine through: Allowing the Recruiter to find out more about you, the real you will be beneficial to both you and the company. Be expressive in your tone, let the reader know who you are, what your values are, what are your goals career wise. Explain what your aspirations are and what drives you to succeed.  If these are in line with the organisation then the Recruiter will be more likely to get in touch. 

  3. Demonstrate you have researched the company and not just randomly applying: By relating your values and your experience to the companies values helps you reinforce that you have actually researched the company. Talk about how the companies mission or values match what you want to achieve or how they are in line with where you would like to work. This will also help to demonstrate that you have invested your own time in understanding the company in more detail and that your application is not just another generic application. 

  4. Career Gaps: This is a chance (only if comfortable) for you to explain any career gaps which appear on your CV. Did you take time off of work and missing some months or years of experience, here is a chance to give further insight, again this is optional. 

When you are structuring your Cover Letter have a think about the four points that I have just explained. Try to show how you are unique from others who are competing for the job and why you would be an amazing fit for the role. As always if you need any help feel free to contact me and I can elaborate further. 

This is the end of part one of the Job Seekers Super Guide - Do keep a look out for part two of the guide where I will be sharing some top tips with you all to help you utilise the LinkedIn platform more effectively and top tips on applying for jobs. 

Keep Networking. Keep Applying.  You will find something soon; new doors will open. 

Take care for now guys – Stay Safe!

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