Writing CVs and Covering Letters

A potential employer will gain their first impressions of you from your Curriculum Vitae. A carefully thought out and well written CV can make the difference between being invited for interview and being rejected. Your CV is your opportunity to demonstrate that you meet the essential and desirable requirements of the post so spend time planning and writing it – it will help take the pressure off you if you get an interview because you will have made your most important points in advance.


The core of your CV is a record of essential personal details and what you have done since leaving school set out in chronological order. Do not leave gaps in your career history as this may leave an employer wondering if you have been sick, unemployed or even in prison.

Personal Details

Your personal details should be brief and include your full name, address, telephone number and email address, your date of birth and nationality (in case a visa or work permit is needed). Whether you include your marital status is a matter of personal preference, but it is not information an employer can take into account when making a decision on your suitability for the post. Likewise information about political or religious affiliations or sexual orientation is not relevant. If you have a disability which will require an employer to make an adjustment in the workplace then it is worth mentioning this up front.

Academic & Professional Qualifications

Your academic record should list the schools or colleges you attended when completing GCSE (or O-levels) and A-levels. You need give only the number of GCSEs and the year they were taken but you should list your A-level subjects and also the grades if they were good. Higher and further education should also be covered: the university or college attended, the dates, the main subjects taken and the title and class or grade of the award. List professional qualifications with dates of completion, indicating any first time passes. If you are part-qualified and still studying, indicate your progress to date and estimated date of completion. It is normally best not to mention if you are part-qualified but have given up.

Employment History

Your employment history should list your employers, with dates, job title, record of any promotions (with dates), details of staff supervised, reporting and functional responsibilities, type of work completed, systems and areas covered, skills and technical knowledge acquired, significant achievements and exposures to operational management. You should always tailor this part of your CV to match the post you are applying for. Look at the main duties of the post or the requirements of the employee specification and highlight your own experience which is relevant. Your most recent employment (depending on length of service) should be given most exposure and this progressively reduced for previous employers. Give your reasons for changing jobs particularly if you have moved for career development reasons, that is, to broaden or deepen your experience or acquire new skills.

Concluding the CV

It is taken as given that you are hard-working and conscientious so there is no need to make such statements. It is a matter of personal choice if you wish you may conclude your CV with a reference to your outside interests but keep it brief. It is normal to include the names, addresses and professional capacity of two or three referees but you should make it clear if you do not wish referees to be contacted without your express permission.

Style & Presentation

For a CV your writing style should be formal but straightforward and unpretentious. Your CV should be word-processed with the sections and sub-sections clearly identified by consistent heading and sub-headings. If you tabulate data use a table with invisible borders for the layout. Line spacing at 1.1 or 1.2 often looks more inviting to read than very dense typing. Poor grammar, punctuation and spelling will create a poor impression so use the spell and grammar check. If you have to submit your CV as hard copy rather than electronically you should print it on good quality white A4 paper, single sided. Whether you send your CV by email or post, it should be accompanied by a covering letter; this need only state the post you are applying for and a brief explanation of why your application should be considered.

And Finally

Your CV is your opportunity to set out your positive points and there is no need for you to list your weaknesses. But do not misrepresent anything or lie or include anything that you cannot substantiate at interview. If you have secured a position on a misrepresentation of a verifiable fact, you may not only be dismissed, you may also be prosecuted.

Essential Recruitment (UK) Ltd,
26th Floor, City Tower, Piccadilly Plaza,
M1 4BT

Tel: 0161 738 1133

Fax: 0161 247 8576

Email: info@essential-recruitment.com