Marketing yourself effectively

CV/Cover Letter

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While the majority of the milkround positions will be through an online application process, smaller accounting firms and ad hoc positions that arise in the larger firms outside the milkround process typically require a CV/Cover letter to be submitted as part of the application process. This is a quick dummies guide for students to get the basics of what to consider when preparing these documents and I have also included some examples and external links where you will find some more information. In terms of pre milkround students, it should give you the framework to start thinking about building your CV are the areas where you feel it may be weak.

CV

Your CV is the single most important marketing tool at your disposal as a graduate. Despite this many students will never have even thought about preparing a CV until they come to applying for milkround positions and it will be a completely new experience. The structure, content and length of a CV is entirely subjective. There are however a number of key rules of thumb that are generally accepted as best practice when it comes to CVs which I will outline below.

The time spent by an employer looking at a CV will most likely be between 30-40 seconds. Given such a small timeframe first impressions are key (similar to an interview) thus a nicely structured CV with a logical flow to it that makes it easy to identify key facts will greatly enhance your prospects.

I have included below some sample CVs to give you an idea of what to focus on when preparing this marketing document (yes that is what it is!). Additionally there are checklists and some “golden rules of thumb” that you should pay close attention to.

CV Checklist

  • Spellcheck
  • Get someone else to proof read it in its entirety
  • Get an honest friend to play devil’s advocate and ask the hard questions
  • Pdf the document if emailing
  • Names of firms – you would be surprised amount of applications that just copy & paste
  • Is it tailored to the job?
  • Have you contacted your referees to give them notice?
  • Print at least 3 copies and bring to interview

CV “Golden Rules”

  • Two pages ideal – three pages max
  • Include a references section – even if it just says “References available upon request”
  • Tailor it to the role
  • Keep clean, formatted and simple
  • Have experiences/education in reverse chronological order
  • Be mindful of leaving gap years in CV timeline – be able to explain if asked
  • Avoid excess information – e.g. detailed junior cert results would no longer be relevant if graduated

Have a read of my blog post on CVs

Cover Letter

The purpose of a cover letter is twofold;

  • introduce yourself and your CV; and
  • summarise your motivation and suitability for the position.

To be effective a cover letter should be in a letter format, addressed to the correct recipient(s), focussed and concise. As per above I have included some sample letters,  checklist and some external links for more background reading.

 

Cover Letter Checklist

  • 1 A4 page max
  • Spellcheck
  • Correct letter format & date
  • Correct addressees and address?
  • Get someone else to proof read it in its entirety
  • Pdf the document if emailing
  • Is it tailored to the CV?
  • Does it introduce and sell you?

External Links

There are numerous websites on the net covering CVs and cover letters, some great and some not so great. Furthermore, one of your first steps should be to visit your college/university careers service who will have numerous workshops, talks and other activities helping students prepare both of these documents. To save you time I have included a few select links below to some of the more useful links;