Your curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter gives employers a snapshot of who you are professionally in terms of qualifications, skills and experience and is your first opportunity to sell yourself for a job. First impressions count and taking time to prepare a strong CV and cover letter is a vital step on the road to getting shortlisted for an interview and getting your dream job.

Your CV should set out your academic and career history and the cover letter can be used to personalise the CV and tell employers why you want the job and why you are a good fit for it.

Remember that your CV and cover letter is one of potentially hundreds received by an employer in an average year – yours must stand out and be easily readable in the first 10 seconds.

Top tips for a great CV

  • Use a professional CV template – these can be sourced online.
  • Structure the CV into clear headings – key skills, career history, education/training and interests.
  • Use bullet points and short sentences.
  • Check spelling, grammar, formatting.
  • Use professional, but not overly formal language and avoid acronyms or jargon.
  • Keep it to a maximum of two to three pages.
  • Top tips for a winning cover letter

  • Say what role you are applying for.
  • Summarise your background – current role and qualifications.
  • Say why you’re interested in the role and company.
  • Highlight key skills and experience that make you a match for the role.
  • Include something personal to differentiate you from other applicants.
  • Use friendly language and avoid being too formal.
  • Keep it to one page maximum.
  • Tailor your CV and cover letter to match the role you are applying for

    Employers want to see at a glance how your qualifications, skills and experience match role requirements. As part of the process of shortlisting, they will scan your CV and cover letter for evidence of a match and will select applicants whose background are the best fit with role requirements.

    So when you are applying for a job, it’s important to tailor your CV and cover letter to highlight how your background matches role requirements.

    Check the job advertisement or job description to see what the requirements are – for example, a degree in agricultural science, six months’ sales experience, etc, and highlight on your CV and cover letter that you have this background.

    Sarah Buckley.

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