Student Guidance Centre

CV and Covering Letters

CVs: This 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.

Style: Choose a layout that will help the reader to find relevant information quickly. Use a clear, legible font and bullet points to highlight key information. Templates are not usually a good idea as they force you to follow a structure and style that may not highlight the things you want. It's better to look at some examples and choose a format that you think will work well for you. Find examples on Prospects and TargetJobs. Do not copy directly from these examples.

Length: Students should aim for no more than 2 pages.

Content Order: Order sections according to what is most relevant to the reader e.g. for a part-time job it may be best to start with "Employment Experience" for a graduate job it is likely to be best to start with "Education and Qualifications".

Present information in reverse chronological order e.g. for Education - start with university qualifications then work backwards through A levels, GCSEs. 

Personal details:

  • Full name, address
  • Contact number
  • E-mail address
  • You don't need to include: date of birth, national insurance number or a photograph.

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. Unless specified you should not need to list all of your GCSEs.

Employment experience: Describe your experience and the relevant skills gained but avoid listing duties. Highlight relevant experience by allocating more space to it. Include jobs even if you think they aren't relevant to the post for which you are applying as you are sure to have demonstrated relevant skills.

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: 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. It's fine to write "References available on request" if you don't have space on the CV.

Top tips: Make it look good

  • Allocate space according to the importance of the information
  • 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

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 sometimes read before the CV and can be 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
  • Sell yourself and highlight your enthusiasm
  • Support your suitability with relevant examples


With thanks to CareerPlayer this video has some useful CV tips




Further help: It is a good idea to get your drafts checked by a careers consultant. You can make an appointment on MyFuture

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

The Careers, Employablity and Skills also holds relevant workshops throughout the academic year, advertised on MyFuture