A simple guide to creating an excellent CV and cover letter

When applying for a job in New Zealand, employers will ask for a CV (Curriculum Vitae) and a cover letter. These documents allow employers to see which of their potential candidates meet the criteria for the position available.

While CVs and cover letters should be submitted for a position at the same time, the process of creating each document is very different. Your CV is a breakdown of your experience such as education and employment history and your cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself and explain why you think you’re right for the role.

It’s important to take your time with both your CV and cover letter to ensure you make a good impression. As the job market is a very competitive space, you want your CV and cover letter to help you stand out from the rest.

Here are some easy ideas for creating a great CV and cover letter.Creating an excellent CV

Cover letters

A cover letter is a one-page document explaining why you should be considered for the role and a summary of the skills and experiences you can bring to the organisation.

Cover letters should be:

Tailored to fit the position

Employers want to see that you’ve made an effort with the cover letter you’ve submitted. They want to see what you could bring to their organisation.

Each job that is advertised comes with a list of specific requirements that are unique to the position. Your cover letter should detail which of the requirements you meet and why you think you should be considered. It’s here that the employer will see whether you have read the job description properly and taken some time to research the organisation.

Short and sweet

A cover letter should be one page only and include your personal contact details such as address, phone and email. There is no need to include your age or marital status.

It is a skill in itself to say all you need to say in a concise, easy-to-read manner and potential employers will appreciate receiving cover letters that meet this standard.

Written in the first person

Unlike CVs, cover letters should be written in the first person. Use “I and me” to make a point that you are the person perfect for the role.

An explanation of current circumstances

If you are currently employed, explain why you are seeking change. If you are currently unemployed, explain why this role is perfect for your re-entry into the workforce.

Be sure to mention your current or last job, as well as any qualifications and training that could be useful for the position you are applying for.

Polite and positive

Tone of voice counts for a lot in a cover letter. Be sure that your written word comes across polite and positive. There is no place for negativity of any kind in a cover letter.

End the cover letter with a polite expression of interest such as mentioning that you look forward to hearing back from the employer.

Well-structured and free of spelling errors

It’s important that your cover letter is free from spelling and grammar errors. If you’re not confident in this area, have someone else run their eyes over it for you.

Your cover letter should also be written in a standard font such as Times New Roman, Aerial, or Verdana. A fancy font is often difficult to read and doesn’t present well. Ensure your cover letter is also structured into clear, concise paragraphs rather than one large block of text.

CVs

A CV is a separate document to the cover letter, however, each is sent together as part of a job application. A CV should be 2-3 pages (maximum) and include:

Your personal information

State your contact details again at the top of your CV. Not only will this ensure your employer has all of your correct details, but it will also enable them to match your CV and cover letter should they be separated at any point.

Remember, there is no need to include your age or marital status.

Your education, qualifications, and awards

List your education and qualifications in reverse chronological order, starting from the most recent. Be sure to name the institution, the dates attended and any qualifications received at each.

Your employment history and experience

Your employment history should also be listed chronologically, starting from your current or most recent position. We recommend the following structure when listing your employment history.

  • Job Title
  • Date from – Date to
  • Name of company
  • Responsibilities
  • Key achievement

Any further skills or interests

It’s here where you can briefly outline any further skills that could be transferrable to the position you are applying for. Feel free to personalise your CV by including a couple of key interests you enjoy as a hobby or activity.

Referees

Ensure you have a list of valid referees from previous employers who are happy to be contacted should you reach this point in the interview process. Referee contact is one of the final steps in candidate selection, so it’s important that your referees know you have listed them on your CV, so they can be contacted to vouch for your experience and personal attributes.

CVs and cover letters are arguably the most important part of the job application process. For this reason, applicants should do their best to create a CV and cover letter that helps them stand out among the rest.

If you need help with your CV and cover letter or you would like some advice on the job-seeker process, contact us today. We will be happy to help you.