Careers, Employability and Skills

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CV and Covering Letters

CVs: A CV is an opportunity to sell yourself, highlighting your experience, skills and qualities to potential employers. Equality legislation in Northern Ireland recommends employers to only accept a CV in response to advertised posts. A CV should always be accompanied with a covering letter.
Please note you can use the CV builder function of your PDP efolio (available in your Queen's Online account) to construct a draft CV for use in discussions with your careers adviser.

Style: The layout should be easy to read, professional and relevant information should be easily found. Choose a clear, legible font for ease of reading and use bullet points to highlight key information. You should always word process your CV unless told otherwise and use quality paper for overall impact. Students should aim for 2 pages; anything more may lose the reader's attention.

Content: Start with your most recent educational experiences and work back e.g. college or university qualifications, A levels, GCSEs. Use distinct headings to separate the different aspects of your life, these could include:

Personal details:

  • Full name, address- you may wish to provide term address if appropriate
  • Contact number- you may wish to provide a day and evening contact if appropriate
  • E-mail address

Education: Allocate space according to the importance of the qualification. Begin by listing degree(s), A levels and along with your grades and dates and include your place of study. 

Work experience: Use examples to describe your experience e.g. this post entailed liaising with customers. The proportion of space used should also reflect the relevance of the work experience. In most cases you will have developed relevant employability skills so avoid the temptation to omit jobs that you deem menial.

Interests and activities: Try to use examples of team orientated to demonstrate your ability to work in both scenarios. Sell your interests and activities to the employer e.g. if you are an avid traveller take the opportunity to write about how you survived on a planned budget and describe your experiences of different cultures and people.

Other skills: Do include any skills or training that you have not already included e.g. IT skills, foreign language.

Referees: Normally two referees are required, one of which should be academic. Do not forget to ask their permission before sending the CV off- some employers do check referees immediately.

Top tips: Make it look good

  • Allocate space according to the importance of the information
  • Always use quality paper and word process your CV
  • Check grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Try to arrange relevant information on the first page of your CV
  • Tailor your CV to the job in question
  • Don't leave gaps
  • Ask a careers adviser to proof read it for you
  • Never send a CV without a covering letter

Please note that Personal Development Planning (PDP) can provide use of a CV Builder. We strongly recommend that students use this only as a template to help them create their original CV.

Covering Letters

The covering letter should always accompany a CV and it can also be sent with an application form if an employer has requested it. It is normally read before the CV so the comments are of crucial importance. Written correctly, the covering letter should impress and encourage the employer to read your CV and subsequently invite you for interview.

Content: Draw attention to relevant qualification, work experience and skills. Your letter should include:

  • Who you are
  • Why you are writing
  • What type of work you are applying for and where you saw it advertised
  • Why you are interested in this work and employer
  • Why you believe you are suitable

Top tips: Restrict covering letter to one page

  • Always address your letter to a specific person within the company. If you don't have a contact name it is a good idea to contact the company- personnel or human resources
  • Word process your letter unless told otherwise
  • Use the same A4 quality paper that you used in your CV
  • Sell yourself and highlight your enthusiasm
  • Support your suitability with relevant examples

Further help: It is a good idea to get your drafts checked by a careers adviser. You can make an appointment on our online appointments, events, vacancies and fairs http://queens.prospects.ac.uk

Useful booklets, online and multi media materials are available from the Careers, Employability and Skills. Details are available in Information Resources

The Careers, Employablity and Skills also holds relevant workshops throughout the academic year, advertised on our online events vacancies and fairs http://queens.prospects.ac.uk

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