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Writing CVs and covering letters

Writing CVs and covering letters

Old Jun 11th 2010, 2:29 am
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Default Writing CVs and covering letters

Any advice on writing a CV? I'm trying to redo mine and just can't get it or the covering letter to sound 'right'.
I've looked at CV writing websites to try and get an idea of what they want over here in NZ. Too much 'good communication skills' 'team player' 'able to use own initiative' type phrases for my liking! Using those type of phrases tends to make it sound too generic in my opinion and don't actually seem to say a lot.
Do employers actually take that much notice of your own assessment of your personal attributes or do they tend to assess what you're like at an interview, your work experience and what your references are like? Would be interesting to hear from those of you who are or have been employers Also would you find it odd if a reference wasn't included from an applicant's current employer? Don't want to tell them just yet but the application asks for references.

So far my CV has got me plenty of interest from employers but I am looking at applying for what would be my ideal job and want it to be just right, if not damn near perfect

Last edited by Persephone; Jun 11th 2010 at 2:32 am.
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Old Jun 11th 2010, 10:08 am
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Default Re: Writing CVs and covering letters

OK, I believe there are two kinds of employer: Type A those that take the cv and cover letter to heart and almost make decisions based on them and Type B those that just use them to shortlist but no more.

You have to try and address the cover letter to Type A and the cv to Type B IMHO so:

Make the cv pretty factual and dry, little of the emotion-based stuff and keep it fairly generic.

Make the cover letter precise to the roll, linking the quals and experience documented in the cv to the role description, pull out ALL the relevant soft skills you may have and relate them to both your experience in the cv and the role requirements.

If you only have the option of a cv then put in a first para that would be the key points of the cover letter...

Hope this helps some. BTW as an employer I always went for people with the soft skills and attitude first as it is relatively easy to cost and time estimate them gaining a technical skill (assuming they have a demonstrated apptitude for gaining tech skills). Whereas if they don´t have the right soft skills and attitude, they may never get them....

Hope this helps...
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 1:49 am
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Default Re: Writing CVs and covering letters

I agree with simonsi

I'm currently adjusting my CV and drafting a covering letter for a new job too. The need to include the 'flowerey' phrases that you refer to, Persephone, I find depends on what sort of job I'm applying for. For example, when I was applying for teaching jobs I didn't necessarily include them, but have done for the admin type jobs that I've applied for since leaving teaching.

The first page of my current CV bullet points some of these phrases and shows my experience with them in past employment or life in general. This forms a front page before the boring list of previous employment, qualifications, etc (which I can easily remove if I don't think it relevant to a particular application).

My covering letter usually explains or fleshes out the bullet point tasks of previous employment that I think have real relevance to the job I'm applying for. So, for example, if a task for my previous job, included in my cv, states "provide administrative support for xyz team", in my letter I might actually detail just what that support was (if it relates to the vacancy).

I have often been told that employers only read covering letters that are one side of A4 in total. Not sure that I go for that one - I've had mixed results in the past with short letters and longer ones!

The other thing that I have done with my last two, successful, job applications is to either meet with the prospective employer or at least have a conversation with them on the phone before submitting my application. Then I refer to this and indicate something that I learnt about the job from it in my covering letter. Helps to show that you are serious about that particular job and not just desperate for any job

With regards to a reference from your current employer, does the application state that you need to supply a reference or just details of referees who can be contacted? If the latter I would include your current boss' details and add a note asking that they not be contacted without you being informed first. With my current job the application form actually said to mark any referees that I didn't want contacted at the application stage. At my interview this was confirmed with me, and then when they had finished the rounds of interviews they phoned me to say that they wanted to take up references and was that ok. At that point I asked them if I could get back to them after I had spoken with my principle referee (my boss), which they were quite happy with. I did also have two other referees that I was happy for them to contact at any time, and I think they went straight to one of them whilst I was advising my boss

Good luck (for you and me both).

I hate the whole applying for jobs process - if I know I can do the job they should just give it to me without me having to jump through all these artificial hoops
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 1:53 am
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Default Re: Writing CVs and covering letters

Originally Posted by Woodpigeon View Post
I hate the whole applying for jobs process - if I know I can do the job they should just give it to me without me having to jump through all these artificial hoops
I second that. In the past I have applied for some really low-end jobs in my profession, that I can (and have done) in my sleep, yet still I got passed over for them due to some detail on my CV or in my cover letter.

Really bugs me some of the time!
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Old Jun 12th 2010, 5:02 am
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Default Re: Writing CVs and covering letters

Thanks guys,
I'm definitely one for the 'just give me the job, you won't regret it' type of application
Interesting Simonsi that you do take notice of the soft skills, just goes to show, we're all different. I think I would take little notice of them as I feel it would be too easy to make it up and put down what you think an employer wants to read. That's probably why I find it so difficult to write about them!

Anyway the deed is done, more through me being sick of rewriting the thing and also pressure from one of my present employers. Mr Nice Boss knows about the job and he wants to know what's happening so he can make plans which is fair enough. I like him and don't want to let him down The other one doesn't know yet. He did mention phoning the boss where I'm applying to, putting in a good word and seeing what the score is as far as the starting date is concerned etc so hoping he does. I'm not keen on him going behind my back so to speak but since they all know each other then word will get out anyway and better to have heard a good reference before an interview than after.
I was asked to put down referees that could be contacted so I didn't mention current ones as hadn't asked Mr Nice Boss at that point. Did send in a copy of a written reference which I got from my last job which is so good that I didn't recognise myself

Now
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Old Jun 14th 2010, 7:16 am
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Default Re: Writing CVs and covering letters

Target your CV to the job. If the job description had 5 key skills/competencies make sure that your CV has those perfectly clearly and obviously.
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Old Jun 14th 2010, 8:03 pm
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Default Re: Writing CVs and covering letters

I know I'm not in NZ but here's my twopenneth...I had to read through 63 applications the other week. Chucked out any that were :typed in capitals throughout, anyone who didn't follow the simplest of instructions (eg list in date order most recent first), any that sounded like they had passages lifted from the internet, any that didn't address the job description, any with bad grammar or spelling.... sure cut them down quickly!
And when you get an interview for goodness sake read your letter through before you go in!!!
And lots of luck, I hate doing applications
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