Several years ago, when I applied for my first ‘real’ job, the hiring manager was thankfully one of my dad’s close friends. After sending in my résumé and cover letter to him, he approached my dad and told him that he was going to pretend he never got my email… that’s how basic and lacking in professional standards the layout of my CV had been (which I had created about four years prior in my high school Careers class, and had simply been updating with new experience). He then sent me an example of a stellar résumé and cover letter, which turns out was written by someone who was the VP of one of our company’s vendors. I took that layout and ran with it, altering the bare minimum and adjusting both documents to reflect my own experience. Needless to say, after submitting my shiny new application, I got the job and continued to work there for two summers in a row.
That being said, in this tough job market, you have to start somewhere — namely, by selling yourself and your skills to your potential employer. In your CV, don’t forget to include:
- Education. Where did you go to school? Include your high school name and year attended, as well as any post-secondary institution and years attended, along with your major and (if applicable) minors. Also include any diploma/degree/certificate you are a candidate for, or have already received. Always begin with your most recent and work backward.
- Accomplishments. What have you done that stands out to employers? This can include anything from an award you were given, to being given the responsibility of training new employees for a given position.
- Experience. List all relevant experience. Include your employer, the position, the dates you were employed, and your responsibilities (in point form). The following examples are two of my three current positions.
- Volunteer Experience. As with your section on experience, format your volunteer experience accordingly.
- Skills. List all relevant skills related to the job. Try and narrow it down to the three most important and briefly elaborate (i.e., TEAMWORK: Works well in a group environment, can make important decisions, gets along well with my peers, proficiency in customer service)
As for your cover letter, you tweak the content of this letter to the skills that you possess, which are relevant to the job. Lately, I’ve been applying to marketing positions, so you can find a template to my marketing cover letter by clicking here. I’ve also applied to several jobs in the publishing industry, and that cover letter template can be found by clicking here. All you would have to do is alter my personal experience to reflect your own. You will also see from both my résumé and cover letter than I have a personal website, as well. This is essentially an online CV with all of my experience broken down and detailed, as well as links to the corporate websites of the companies I have worked for and any online work of mine that has been published. To see it all, you can visit (it’s a click-through link): www.EmilyMichelleFata.com. I have heard back from many potential employers that they loved my website and found it to be something that set me aside from other candidates. If something as small as a personal website can encourage an employer to give you an interview, I consider it to be a great investment.
And that’s really all there is to the application process! Make sure that you’re always presenting the best side of yourself — elaborate on your relevant experience and expansive skill set. Always state why YOU would be the best fit not only for the position, but for the company that you are applying to. Highlight how great of a candidate you are.
What are your thoughts on today’s job market and application processes? Let me know in the comments!