Category Archives: CV

Looking for a part-time casual job? Does your CV fit the bill?

2 bar work Are you looking for a part-time job in a shop, bar or restaurant? Dropping off your CV in person and asking to speak to the manager can be an effective strategy.  First impressions really count, particularly if you are dressed appropriately and you come across as confident, personable and enthusiastic.  A prospective employer will be impressed by your initiative and motivation too.

It’s a good idea to have a CV that you can leave with them. Even if they don’t have a vacancy at the time, you can always ask to be kept on file and you may well find that you get a phone call out of the blue.

However, don’t leave them your main graduate CV. Create a different shorter version that fits the type of employer you are targeting.

Here are some tips about what to leave out and what you should be emphasising instead.

  • Make sure your CV is easy to follow and looks professional. Don’t overcrowd with too much text and don’t make it any longer than one or two sides of A4.
  • Make sure your contact details are obvious. Your contact telephone numbers and email need to be clearly stated at the top of your CV.
  • Remember what you want your CV to do for you! Make it obvious who you are eg a reliable and hard-working student seeking a part-time job in a customer facing role. Write a short personal profile (no more than 50 words) that states clearly what you can offer and what you want.
  • Put your work experience section before your academic one. It’s always a good idea on a CV to position each section in order of importance for the type of job you want. So after a short personal profile, a section describing your work experience will be of more interest to a pub manager for example than details about your degree subject. For graduate jobs, the order will be different, as your academic background is likely to be your ‘main selling point’.
  • Make sure your relevant work experience is clearly stated and easy to find. If you have relevant experience, mention this in your profile, and then expand on it more fully in a section called ‘work experience’.
  • What does a prospective employer want from a student seeking a part-time job in a bar/shop/café etc? Use phrases and words that resonate with the hospitality and retail sector. A prospective employer will want to know that you ‘enjoy dealing with customers’ or ‘know how to create a welcoming friendly atmosphere’, or ‘have the tact and diplomacy to deal with demanding customers’, ‘have a flexible approach to work’ etc
  • Only include relevant information. Reduce or even leave out completely complex detail about your degree course and subject specialisms. A busy shop manager doesn’t have the time to read about your dissertation choice or course modules for example. It may even put them off! You can mention what you are studying and where (eg Accounting and Finance student) but give this less prominence than you would give to it on your graduate CV.
  • Demonstrate that you have the skills needed to work in a shop/bar etc. Position your ‘employment section’ after your ‘personal profile’ and expand on any part-time paid or voluntary jobs you have had previously. Use bullet points to describe duties and responsibilities such as handling money, preparing and serving food/drinks, helping customers find the goods they want. This shows that you could potentially hit the ground running.
  • Promoting your transferable skills and personal qualities. If you have no previous work experience, then promote your transferable skills and personal attributes that demonstrate your suitability and employability. For example, that you get on well with people and can work well in a team; that you are reliable and responsible, confident and articulate. Mention extra-curricular activities that might show off your people and team-working skills.

If you haven’t had a part-time job before, then taking the plunge and making a speculative visit really could pay off. People respond to people, and if you are charming, friendly and smart, you could just be what they are looking for.

Finally don’t forget the careers team can support you with CV writing and looking for jobs. Contact us on  careers@cumbria.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

Graduate spring fair

Looking for an exciting graduate position? Unsure of what you want to do after graduation?

Come to the Spring Graduate Fair at the University of London. The fair is a chance for students and graduates to meet with scores of prospective employers and postgraduate training providers from a wide range of sectors.

The Spring Graduate Fair is the only national graduate recruitment fair held in the spring term and will enable you to meet face-to-face with up to 70 top employers and recruiters from a wide range of sectors. You can network with their representatives, give them your CV and find out more about their graduate opportunities. Past exhibitors have included KPMG, Jaguar, British Airways and Sky. To find out who the exhibitors will be this year, click here for more information.

Remember to print out a few copies of your CV to have on hand!

As well fantastic networking opportunities, there will also be presentations by career Consultants on the essential topics to kickstart your graduate career. Previous topics have included ‘how to best answer difficult interview questions’ and ‘how to write a great CV’. Entry for these is free and will be operated on a first come first serve basis.

There will also be a CV surgery on offer, enabling you to check that you are marketing yourself appropriately and that your CV is on track. These will be delivered in blocks of fifteen minutes and will be run by Careers Consultants from the University of London.

The event is free and you can turn up on the day, but to save time it’s worth registering first online. Registering online also means you receive the latest updates and special information to help you get the most from the day.

 

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New Year, New Strategy!

If you’ve been applying for jobs left, right and centre, but not getting anywhere, maybe it’s time to change your strategy. With 2015 lurking around the corner, why not make a fresh start with your job search strategy, and make 2015 the year you shine! 

Be clear on where you want to go

If you haven’t been getting anywhere with your previous applications, take a loo at the roles you are applying for. Do they suit your skill set? Do you meet the criteria in the job description? If not, you could be wasting your time applying for the wrong jobs.

Take the time to really think about the role you want, and that is realistic and achievable. There are some great careers planners available (TargetJobs and Prospects are two we recommend), which can really help you understand the jobs that you would be suited to.

Once you have identified a suitable area, undertake lots of research into companies and the industry to get insider knowledge that will really help your application stand out.

 

Target your applications

This is something we tell students time and again – tailoring your CV and cover letter for each application is one of the most important things you need to be doing when job searching. It shows that you have taken your time to research the job and the company, and will give you the opportunity to demonstrate to the employer how you will fit into the job role.

If you have to decide between applying for lots of jobs with a standard (non-tailored) CV, or applying for a few jobs with a customised CV, always choose the latter. Quality over quantity wins every time!

 

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

Interviews need to be prepared for just as much as your application – if not more so! Get ready for all of those invites coming in by looking at the different types of interviews you might be faced with (for example, group interviews, assessment centres, etc.) and learn how to prepare for them. You can also research common interview questions for your sector and prepare your answers, using examples to really show how you have used your skills in real-life situations.

Getting a good collection of examples together at this stage means that you will be able to walk into the interview knowing that you will be able to give some strong answers to questions that are likely to come up.

If you struggle with nerves, arrange a couple of mock interview with the careers service before your interview, to gain some experience and some feedback on your technique. Email careers@cumbria.ac.uk to book a mock interview.

 

Don’t be afraid to follow-up

So you’ve applied and been for interview, but haven’t had a response – frustrating, right? Following up applications and interviews with a phone call or email shows that you are a keen applicant and that you are still interested in the role.

It may be difficult to ask, but if you have been unsuccessful it’s always a good idea to ask for some feedback on what you did well, and what you could have done better. This way you will be better prepared for your next interview.

 

Remember that the careers team is here to help you from the day you arrive at University, all the way through your studies, and for up to three years after you graduate too. We can offer application and CV feedback, as well as mock interviews and general careers guidance. Email careers@cumbria.ac.uk to get in touch.

 

 

Get your CV ready for the #UoCJobsFair

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It’s nearly time for the part-time and seasonal jobs fair which is being held at both the Lancaster and Carlisle campuses! So now is the perfect time to have a look at your CV and make sure that it is up-to-date and fit for purpose.

Are you looking for a part-time job to help fund your studies? Want a bit of extra cash for Christmas? There will be loads of local employers at the jobs fairs, and if you can leave them with a copy of your CV it could really help with your job search.

Here are the careers team’s top tips for an effective part-time CV:

CV’s are used to demonstrate to employers what knowledge, learning, skills, competencies and experience you have. An effective CV will not only show your current abilities, but demonstrate the potential you have to be successful in a working environment.

How long should a CV be?

Ideally, a CV should be no longer than two sides of A4. CVs that exceed this may not be read to the end or at all. For part time work (during studies), a one page CV is sufficient.

Do I need to include a personal profile?

It’s not essential to produce one, but some may like to use this as an opening introduction. If you do decide to include one it should be only around a couple of lines long and follow immediately after your personal details at the top of your CV.

Personal summaries should introduce who you are, what skills you can offer and generally what you are looking for in your next role.

Do I list work experience or education first?

This depends on the type of CV you are creating and how much work experience you have. If you have recently graduated and don’t have much work experience it is probably best to start with your education.  For part time work, employers will be looking at what key skills and experiences you have in a working environment (customer service skills, teamwork etc)

Should I include my interests?

It’s not necessary to include interests in a CV. If you do, use them as examples of specific achievements, such as teamwork roles, personal achievements, leadership roles etc.

How should I present my CV?

Ideally, aim to put your strongest and most recent qualification/experience towards the beginning of your CV, where it will be noticed by an employer.

Avoid cramping your CV with irrelevant information. Instead, concentrate on what important aspects need to included, backing it up with experience. It is always important to remember where you are applying and for which position. Keep your information short, snappy and to the point.

It is important to have your CV proof read for spelling/ grammar mistakes by someone you trust. Bad spelling or simple errors can often put an employer off instantly by demonstrating lack of care/attention.

Do I need to add references?

It is not necessary at this point to provide details of references, but mention that you have references “ available on request”.

 

Remember that you can book to see one of the careers team at your campus for some feedback on your CV. We don’t offer a proofreading service but we can advise on areas that could be improved. Email careers@cumbria.ac.uk or enquire at the library desk. 

7 Steps to a Killer Cover Letter

source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hjjanisch/8586202382/

(image source)

Trying to land that graduate job? Sending out that standard cover letter to anyone and everyone who’ll have it? Stop right there! The scattergun approach rarely works – think of those recruiters in their offices receiving CVs and cover letters – how do you make yours stand out from the rest, and transform your application into a career?

1.  Appearance

First of all, if the presentation of your cover letter isn’t up to scratch, it might not even be read. Don’t fall down at the first hurdle. Oh, and make sure you look at your CV too (useful blog posts can be found here and here). Make sure you have the obvious on your letter – the date, your name, address, phone number(s) and email address. You could make this into a ‘letterhead’ by centering at the top of the page, or use one of the more traditional layouts.

Ensure that the company information is as close to the top-left corner as possible. You should have the recipient’s (full) name, job title, the company name, and the full address of the company. The salutation should be placed a couple of lines down from that.

The main body of your letter should be three paragraphs, an introduction, middle and conclusion. Keep them brief and to the point. Make sure you use active (not passive) words and keep to the point – don’t waffle. Don’t use three words when one will do. The third paragraph is your concluding statement – what you want to leave them with. It should be brief and genuine, and leave them with something memorable. Below your closing statement you add in your closing and your first and last name.

You should aim to keep your cover letter to one side of A4. There are exceptions to this, for example when you are asked to state how you meet the criteria in the person specification, but for a general cover letter, this is enough.

2. Salutation

Always address a cover letter to the exact person who will receive it – this might mean you have to do some research, but there are many ways to go about doing this. You could look on the company website, contact the HR department, or even try looking on LinkedIn.

If you can’t find the name of the person to send your letter to, that is okay, but you are more likely to have success if you reach the right person straight away. The most accepted way to address a cover letter nowadays is “Dear Hiring Manager.” Some people address their letters with “Dear Sir or Madam,” or “To whom it may concern.” Don’t do this! Letters with this salutation often get removed straight away due to the broadness of the salutation – and it actually makes you sound unconcerned.

Form your salutation in the simplest way – address your reader properly – it’s as easy as that.

3. Introduction

In order to set yourself apart, you need a killer first sentence to grab the reader’s attention. Think about the hiring manager – they have to read loads and loads of these letters every day – a lot will be the same format, full of clichés and copy-pasted from the web. They are sick to death of reading the same old stuff. So you have to knock their socks off.

Open your letter with a true, simple, straightforward statement: “I have several years’ experience in the restaurant industry, and I hope you will consider me for the position of Kitchen Manager.” However you write it, be clear and concise.

This opening paragraph should be used to show the recruiting manager why you are a good match for the company. Talk about two or three skills and/or qualifications  you have that really suit the position, but don’t just repeat what is contained in your CV! Your cover letter is meant to reveal the strengths within your skill set, so showcase your abilities accordingly.

4. Middle

The second paragraph of your letter is where you give some real-life examples to demonstrate your skills and qualifications mentioned in the first paragraph. The recruiting manager needs to fill a gap in the organisation – make sure you target that need!

Here is where your storytelling skills will come in handy. Outline a few specific activities you have performed in your career that shows you would thrive in the position. Write about scenarios in which you succeeded in overcoming some obstacles in a recent job. Each instance should show how you met the need that the company is looking for. If the position calls for troubleshooting skills and phone etiquette, then describe how you handled that difficult tech support call and turned the customer around. If the employer wants someone to fill a sales position, don’t be afraid to show exactly how many contracts you secured in your last job. These instances should come out of your CV – make them colourful, concise and effective.

The story should have new information about your skills and abilities, within the framework of your CV – DO NOT just copy-and-paste your CV into your cover letter.

5. Conclusion

The concluding paragraph should be the shortest of the three. Make sure you cover the following things in your closing paragraph: an invitation to look at your CV, your interest in an interview, and your thanks for the opportunity. Firstly you must direct the recruiting manager to look at your CV – if it is being sent digitally, you can say: “Please consider my attached CV for the position.” If you are sending a hard copy (physical) letter, then refer to the CV as “enclosed.”

Secondly, express your interest in attending an interview – you can say something as simple as “I look forward to speaking with you further.”

Thirdly, and most importantly, thank the recruiting manager for their time. If you show your gratitude in a genuine fashion, as well as your interest in the opportunity, they may be more likely to consider you for the position. Don’t just assume your abilities can speak for themselves: a little bit of kindness and deference can go a long way.

6. Closing

Your sign-off should be short and sweet, not long and saccharine. The two most acceptable valedictions: “Your sincerely,” and “Yours faithfully”.

7. Finally

Edit your cover letter. Read it, re-read it, and then give it to someone else to read. Spell-check will overlook many grammatical errors, so you must be diligent. Double check names and addresses, ensure every detail is correct.

 

An excellent cover letter requires you pay great attention to detail, and that you put yourself in the shoes of the company. It is important to showcase your talents and to entertain. Be empathetic, and imagine what you would want to read. Most of all, recognize that you are the best person for the position, and reveal your story – you’re bound to land that job with your killer cover letter!

 

Adapted from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/write-killer-cover-letter-7-easy-steps.html

5 Top Tips for an Effective CV

Think about this situation: a recruiting manager has a pile of fifty CVs to look through for a vacancy; the only time they have available is one evening after work. If your CV doesn’t grab them – if it is hard to read, has irrelevant information or is badly laid out – the recruiter will simply move onto the next one. So how can you ensure that the recruiting manager spends more than the average six seconds looking at your CV? And more importantly, how can you make sure that the recruiter selects you for interview?

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Keep it original

One of the worst things you can do is copy one of the ‘sample’ CVs from the internet. Recruiters can often tell when an applicant has taken someone else’s words; you are original and unique so use words that reflect that! In the creative industries in particular it is important to stand out from the crowd. Think of a way to present your CV that will really make the recruiters sit up and notice you.

Don’t try to pack in too much information

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to squeeze as much information as possible onto your CV by using a small font size or not leaving enough space between sections. Easy ways to save some space are by writing your contact details on one line, leaving off references (you can put ‘available on request’ if you want), and by grouping your less-relevant qualifications together. Someone said to me that the only person interested in your GCSE results is your mum, so just group them all together under one ‘GCSEs’ heading, for example ‘9 GCSEs grades A-C’.

Think about the font you use

The University of Kent (and many others) suggest using a sans-serif font, that is, a font without the little ‘stick’ bits at the end of letters, like the font used on this blog. Verdana, Arial and Calibri are all popular san-serif fonts, and with more CVs being read online, these fonts are best suited for on-screen use. However, if you are applying to a law firm, a more traditional font such as Times New Roman may be used. Don’t try and make more space by using a small size font – a minimum of 10 point should be used, with headings in 14 point.

Match your skills and experience to the job

If you are applying for a specific job that has been advertised, take a good look at the advert and job description. What skills is the employer looking for? How can you match you experiences to those skills? You can use a skills-based CV layout to really tailor your CV to a specific role. Even if you are sending in a speculative CV to a company, do your homework and really research the company, and then use your CV to show them what you can bring.

Interesting interests

People disagree on whether to include a list of interests (not hobbies!) on your CV these days, but if you have something unique or interesting that will help you stand out from the crowd, it can be a great way to get noticed. If you do include this section on your CV, always make sure that you relate your interests to the role or the company. If you are applying for a job as a vet and you volunteer at an animal shelter and pet-sit, then add those in – show the recruiter the skills your interests have given you and how you will use them in your new role.

The Careers Service has a CV checking service available, with plenty of advice on how to write an effective CV. Email us at careers@cumbria.ac.uk for more information or to book an appointment at one of our CV drop-ins!