Tag Archives: CV

Don’t finish your career before it starts!


The UK fraud prevention service is warning new graduates that they could be risking risk their futures by lying on job applications

So you’ve graduated from Uni – congratulations! After all the partying, it’s time to get your CV ready and start applying for those all-important graduate jobs. But what are the consequences of lying on your job application?

The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service (CIFAS) has produced a new publication: Don’t finish your career before it starts. This leaflet is targeted at current students as well as graduates and explains to young people about job application fraud – which despite the myths that lying on your CV is harmless, could result in imprisonment. A lot of graduates think that ’embellishing’ your CV, by adding A Levels or making up references is acceptable, even expected. In reality, if you submit false or exaggerated information on your application, you could end up being dismissed, getting a criminal record or even in jail.

The aim of the publication is not to portray young people as fraudsters, but to educate them in the risk they are taking if they are tempted to embellish their experience and achievements. Research carried out by CIFAS demonstrates that a lot of applicants are unaware that job application fraud is a crime.

Did you know that there is an Internal Fraud Database run by CIFAS that allows employers to record cases of actual or attempted job application fraud (as well as fraud committed within employment such as stealing money, bribery and corruption)? They can also check any new applications to the company against this database.

What this means is that if you attempt to gain employment after being recorded in the database, then your previous fraudulent application will be uncovered – even if your most recent application is genuine. This could have a massive impact on your graduate job prospects!

We know how tempting it can be to tell a little white lie on your application, especially if you haven’t been getting a very good response from those applications you have submitted – but it just isn’t worth the risk! If you feel that your application or CV is not working for you, make an appointment with the Careers Team, or send it to the careers inbox for some feedback (careers@cumbria.ac.uk) – we are here all summer and happy to help!!


Post adapted from http://www.cifas.org.uk/warning_to_new_graduates

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

Landing the Graduate Job – Top Tips

Martin Norris

Today we have a guest post from Martin Norris, recruitment account manager at Cumbrian Newspapers, Carlisle. Cumbrian Newspapers advertise local jobs each week across eight newspaper titles covering the whole of Cumbria, South-West Scotland and the North-East. They also have their own jobs board www.clickin2jobs.co.uk where users can register their CVs and be matched to local jobs. If you are looking for a job in Cumbria, this is a great place to start your search.

Martin’s post today is all about landing that graduate job. I’ll hand over to Martin now!

With the jobs market booming, there’s never been a better time to be a graduate. According to the latest research*, the number of graduate vacancies in 2014 is set to reach pre-recession levels. As a result, job prospects for those leaving university are likely to be the best the UK has seen for the past 7 years. Fantastic news – but how do you land the graduate job?

1. Think commercial

As a recent graduate, I can testify that universities often place too much emphasis on academia. Sure, a good degree classification will stand out on your CV and may help beat off some of the less educated candidates at interview, but you need a good working knowledge of business and commerce if you want to land the job. Employers look to recruit on commercial worth – this is to say how much they feel you can contribute to their organisation, so understanding how a business operates is vital if you are to muscle out the competition.

2. Think team player

There’s nothing worse for an employer than to go through the recruitment process only to find that their new employee doesn’t fit in with the team. It’s a costly mistake, both in terms of time and money, and one which HR managers will try their best to avoid.  To show that you understand the importance of teamwork it’s a good idea to join a club, society, or gain work experience to demonstrate that you can easily integrate into social environments and team situations.

3. Think squeaky clean

If there’s a photo you wouldn’t want your mum to see, chances are you wouldn’t want an employer to see it either, so keep it well away from any profile which is public on the Internet. Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be really useful ways of engaging with businesses and their employees, but you’re not doing yourself any favours if your digital footprint isn’t clean. Your next employer needs to know that you’ll be a positive brand ambassador, so delete any inappropriate material or make your profile private.

*High Fliers Research, ‘The Graduate Market in 2014’

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?


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!

CV Drop-ins at Carlisle – Book Now!

Good Morning Everyone!

Did you have a read of Monday’s post “5 questions to ask yourself when writing your CV”? Would you like some feedback on your CV and/or cover letter?

Today is the first day that the Careers Team in Carlisle are running their CV Drop-in sessions. Make an appointment with Anna, one of our Careers and Employability Coordinators and then take along your CV (and your cover letter too if you have one) and she will provide you with verbal feedback.


Available appointments this afternoon are at 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm.

We are running these drop-ins each week, so if you would like to book an appointment, for today or for a future date, please email careers@cumbria.ac.uk or you can phone 01228 616323. You can also book an appointment at the LiSS desk in the library.

5 Questions to ask yourself when writing your CV

This article has been adapted from the Careers Service’s CV Guidelines handout, which will be available from the Careers Stand at the Refresher’s fair tomorrow in the Gateway building from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm – come and say hello!

You use your CV to show employers what knowledge, skills 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 would be 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 ideally be no more than four 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. Remember that the information on your CV needs to be readable to anyone accessing it.

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.

Bonus Tip!

It is important to have your CV proof read for spelling/ grammar mistakes by someone you trust. Bad spelling or computer typo’s can often put an employer off instantly by demonstrating lack of care/attention.  It is not necessary at this point to provide details of references, but ideally you should inform that references can be made available on request.

For advice on your CV, email it to careers@cumbria.ac.uk and an Adviser will send you some feedback.

A day in the life of Rachel Murray, Digital Marketing Consultant for Hydrant

Rachel is Digital Marketing Consultant for Hydrant in Carlisle. You can read more about Hydrant in Monday’s post here.


How did you become a Digital Marketing Consultant? Did you need any specific training or education?
I graduated with a marketing degree, but I also had a keen interest in digital marketing, and I actually got the job through LinkedIn. I was interested in working with Hydrant as I am quite local, so I connected with some of the staff on LinkedIn, and saw the job advertised there. I sent off my CV, which led to our first meeting and it went from there! They were looking for someone to undertake their digital marketing and so I joined the team as digital marketing consultant; if a client needed advice, I would be the point of contact. Now that I have been there a year, my role has progressed so that I do a lot of face to face work, networking, and marketing Hydrant – letting people know that we are just around the corner!

What does a typical day consist of?
I do a lot of business development, sales, and tender opportunities, so I usually start the day by looking at the tender portals, finding sales opportunities and then ensuring that we have all the documents together in time for deadlines. Every day has different demands and priorities and so I arrange my workload around those. I do a lot of Hydrant’s marketing, mostly online, so I will create press releases, blog posts, tweets and things like that. I could also be arranging events, such as our recent tweet-up, other Hydrant events, and so on. As I am also a point of contact for people who are interested in our services, I often have clients phone up for advice, or new clients wanting to work with us. I find that working in an agency, every day is different!


What personal qualities do you think are essential to be good at your job?
You really need to be outgoing and creative to work in social media; you don’t want your online presence to blend in, it needs to be engaging and stand out! It is important that you have the skills to create that sort of online presence. I am quite talkative, which is useful when networking, so I’m not sitting in a corner and not really representing Hydrant – you need to be outspoken and have the ability to form relationships and chat with all different kinds of people. You also need to understand the strategy behind the suggestions you make to clients, you need to know the technical theory behind all of that. This is one of those jobs you can really learn as you go, especially within social media as it is always changing, you need to constantly be aware of new trends and be up to date and on the ball!

If you could spend one day in another job, what would it be and why?
I find social media really interesting but I would love to do it for a really different organisation. My dream job is to work for Heat magazine, working in the office and meeting celebrities. Their approach to social media is completely different, it isn’t corporate at all, and it is about building relationships with their readers which I find very interesting. They tweet and post on Facebook about TV programmes, celebrities and celeb culture, it’s a totally different approach.

What is your biggest tip for someone who wants follow in your career path?
My main advice would be to be proactive, just get yourself out there and let companies know you are available and experienced. Form relationships with companies, and people at those companies, rather than just applying for jobs. So, you could send a LinkedIn request to the company founder, and send him a message letting him know what you are about. When I first came out of university one of the first things I did was to get in touch with local organisations to see if I could work with them for a few days – most companies will say yes to someone offering to work for free! Another important thing to remember is that experience is vital, so the more you can do before you leave university, the better. Working for a company for a few days, or on a short project looks better than a blank CV. If you are struggling to get any experience, you could even start blogging about your chosen career. For example, if you are seeking a career in advertising, you could blog about current advertising campaigns, putting your own touch on them, giving advert reviews etc. This is building your experience and shows employers your knowledge and abilities, and you can use it as a reference or portfolio when applying for jobs. Having something to show an employer goes a long way.

Interested in a career in digital marketing? You can read more on the Prospects website at http://www.prospects.ac.uk/features_marketing_whats_on_offer.htm

Five Transferable Skills We All Have

What do you do when your work history doesn’t match the skill set for the job you are applying for? Use your transferable skills! An important part of your time at University is getting your degree; that goes without saying. But employers will look at extra-curricular activities to differentiate the run-of-the-mill applicants from those they can see as a good fit with their company. Use them!


This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to get some extra experience on your CV – volunteer with a company, and you not only help that company, but help your employability as well. For example, if you are studying towards a career in law, volunteering as an Independent Custody Visitor through http://icva.org.uk/ will gain you valuable skills and knowledge in the judicial system.


Have you been back-packing around the world on your gap year? Have you spent the summer working in a Summer Camp or driving across the USA? Travelling shows prospective employers that you are flexible, cultured and independent. Demonstrate the skills you used on your CV: Did you learn a new language? Did you have to organise yourself and others? All of these skills enhance your employability.

Part-time work

Think that your student job in a bar while you were studying has no place on your CV now that you are applying for a graduate job? Don’t be too quick to wipe it! A part-time job while you were studying shows employers that you have good time-management skills, are not afraid of hard work, and have well-developed interpersonal skills to boot!


If you have something to say, then say it! If you are passionate and knowledgeable about a subject, but don’t have a lot of experience, then starting a blog can demonstrate to employers that you have the skills and knowledge required. It’s a great way to demonstrate your writing skill as well as helping you to develop your own voice.

Interests (not hobbies!!)

Make the most of the ‘interests’ section on your CV by highlighting how your interests make you the perfect fit for the company. Any interest you have, be it photography, playing the violin, sports or even bird-watching, can prove that you have one skill or another; motivation, passion, a drive to succeed. As long as you can link your interest with a skill that is required by the company, include it on your CV!

What transferable skills do you have?

Volunteering Your Way Out Of Catch 22

This morning we have a guest post from Ashley Tiffen about volunteering. Ashley is the Programme Leader for our BSc(Hons) Policing, Investigation and Criminology course and recently organised the successful Volunteering Fair here at the University of Cumbria.

Three years at university and you’ve nailed that degree but how do you then go on to get THAT job when the prospective employer demands ‘experience’? This is the Catch 22 situation that many graduating students find themselves in each year.

In an increasingly difficult jobs market the employer is in the driving seat where they can pick and choose from a growing pool of candidates. But what are the factors that can see you rise to the top of this pool and make you attractive to the potential boss?

Clearly your degree is important. It demonstrates many things, knowledge and commitment certainly, and for many careers having a good degree opens the door. But there are other things you can do to develop your personal CV making sure you have the best chance of stepping through into the world of work.

One of those is volunteering.

UCSU volunteering

Image taken from the UCSU Volunteering blog at http://ucsuvolunteering.wordpress.com/

Karen Brady, managing director of Birmingham City football club and board member of BBC’s The Apprentice, says: “Anybody who volunteers is taking a decisive step in the right direction and taking their career ambitions into their own hands. Not only does volunteering give you valuable experience, but it makes you eminently more employable. And who knows, you might even have some fun too! I would seriously consider a candidate for interview if they had committed to volunteering.”

Like Karen, employers are looking for someone who has made a commitment, unpaid, to an organisation and have combined their quest for personal fulfillment and with personal development. Someone who has shown they can get out of bed in the morning wanting to better themselves while putting something back into their community.

Working for a charity operating in your chosen area of interest, for example, tells the employer you understand the area where you eventually want to work. Volunteering also provides the key employability skills – working with others in a team, solving problems, negotiating skills, adaptability, for example – which can then be tailored to specific job applications in the future. It also provides opportunities to network with people who might be in a position to influence your future career.

Finally, many organisations offer training for their volunteers. It might not sound much but a qualification in first aid could be the clincher when you are shortlisted for a future post!
Always choose an organisation you feel comfortable with in an area you are interested in and don’t do it just because you feel you should.

Above all, volunteering should be fun so go out and enjoy it.

An Introduction to Career Ahead

graduation - career ahead

What is Career Ahead?
It’s an employability award run by the University of Cumbria which enables you to develop your employability skills to get a good job when you graduate. You complete the award in your own time online through PebblePad, and it is a way to evidence your extra-curricular activity while at University.

Why should I complete the Career Ahead award?
Employers want graduates with good employability skills. They don’t just look at your degree; they want to find the candidate with the best skills for the job. According to High Flyers (2011): “new graduates who’ve not had any work experience during their time at university have little or no chance of landing a well-paid job”. Career Ahead allows you to evidence the skills you already have, develop those skills that you want to develop, crate effective employability tools such as cv and cover letter writing skills, interview skills and allows access to free workshops, both face-to-face and online. In short, Career Ahead enables you to be job ready when you graduate.

So what do I have to do?
The award is broken down into three elements: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze relates to personal development – completing a skills audit and a reflective diary to identify your career goals and skills gaps. Silver relates to skills development – you develop four employability skills, and undertake 100 hours of extra-curricular activity, as well as two online employability workshops. You also create a reflective diary of your progress in your web folio. Gold relates to career management and enables you to search for the job you want, create a targeted CV and cover letter or application form, and develop your web folio to evidence all your activity. Once you have completed and passed all 3 elements you will also have the chance to take part in a mock interview with an employer.

What workshops are available?
Some of the options include leadership, teambuilding, applications and CVs, interview skills, personal branding and mentoring.

What do I get at the end of the course?
Upon completion you will receive a University of Cumbria certificate, as well as having your web-folio evidencing your progress, skills and experience. Most importantly though you will have gained the skills you need to get the job you want!

What next?
Once you have completed the bronze silver and gold elements you can undertake the platinum award – you will complete and extra 50 hours of extra-curricular activity, mentor a bronze or silver student, as well as submitting a reflective diary of your progress. You will also get the chance to organise an event, share a skill, complete a placement or start up your own student enterprise!

If you would like to find out more you can:
Come along to the Introduction to Career Ahead presentation today at the Fusehill Street campus (room LG101) at 4.15 pm.
Take a look at the Career Ahead areas on the University’s website or on BlackBoard (at the top of the page when you log in).
Email mailto: careerahead@cumbria.ac.uk to ask advice, find out more or register onto the award.