CVs and covering letters

Write a winning CV and covering letter

Did you know that employers typically spend under ten seconds initially reviewing a CV?

Do you think your CV will impress in this time? It is really important to spend time putting together your CV before you apply for a job or a place on a postgraduate course. Each time you apply for a different position you need to modify the document so that it is tailored for the role.

Employers often highlight what they are looking for in a ‘person specification’ or ‘entry requirements’ section; you should pay close attention to this and research the role and organisation so you can match yourself to the organisation’s requirements. Always ensure that you address any skills and attributes required for the position in your application using clear examples.

Different types of CVs

Chronological CV

If you have plenty of relevant work experience you should use the chronological or traditional CV format, as this style draws attention to your relevant experience, which you list on the first page. Within this section you should provide an overview of key responsibilities but more importantly you should highlight any achievements. For example, did you take on extra responsibilities or gain a promotion? Did you meet or exceed targets? Did you find an effective solution to a problem? Can you demonstrate how you offered excellent customer service and gained good feedback? Highlight the skills developed in these roles as well, especially those required for the post you’re applying for.

Skills CV

If your experience is lacking or you are changing career path, you may want to use a skills-based CV. Within the ‘skills profile’ on the first page, you should outline relevant skills required for the role. By drawing on examples from work, university and extra-curricular activities you can demonstrate that you have what the employer is looking for. You still include employment information, but can list this more briefly, perhaps on the second page.

Hybrid CV

If you have some experience but this is fairly limited, a combination of the two styles may work best to enable you to highlight experience and skills in separate sections.

Help and support available to you:

One to one support in the Careers Zone

If you are unsure about the content and structure of your CV or would like some advice on tailoring your CV to a particular role or sector, our Employability Advisers can give you professional feedback. Call into a Careers Zone or phone us on 0151 231 2048/3719 to book an appointment.

CV360, CV Builder and Cover Letter Builder tools

CV360 scores your CV against more than 50 checks that students commonly trip up on.  You get instant, detailed feedback so you can optimise your CV and significantly boost your chances of getting to interview.

CV Builder allows you to create a CV from scratch and includes tips and advice from employers on each section of your CV. This tool is ideal for students looking to write their first CV.

Cover letter builder enables you to quickly and easily produce an engaging cover letter.

Careers workshops/webinars

Find out how to write a winning CV by attending one of our workshops or webinars. For dates of upcoming sessions, check our events website.

'Writing your CV' and 'Checking your CV' modules

Check out our 'Writing your CV' and 'Checking your CV' modules which include employer videos, e-learning materials, short one-minute employer podcasts featuring tips and advice, relevant news and written tutorials.  To access the 'Writing your CV' module click here or to access the 'Checking your CV' module click here. You can also access our 'CV and applications' e-learning materials here.

Download our career mini guide

Our handy mini guide on CVs and covering letters provides lots more advice on what to include in each section of your CV and how to write effective covering letters. Check out our other careers guides on the resources page.

Download your school-specific Career Planning Guide

Download your school-specific Career Planning Guide from the resources page to find examples CVs related to your programme of study.