Job Application - CV / Resume / Cover Letter

The two documents that are required in every job application are the Resume and a cover letter. These are probably the two most important documents to advance your career and should be updated on a regular basis.


A. CV / Resume


The CV (Curriculum Vitae in full) is your marketing brochure that outlines your experience, qualifications, achievements, skills, education and other backgrounds that would induce a prospective employer to grant you an interview. It is important for it to look professional to give a prospective employer a good first impression of you. It is an indication of your writing skills, presentation skills and organisation skills. You should ensure that your CV appears neat and professional with headings and wide margins to make it easy to read. It should also be printed on white paper with sufficient thickness to give it a sense of gravitas. It is important to keep your CV brief, preferably 1-2 pages but no more than 3 pages. 


The information contained in the CV should be complete and accurate. Be sure to update it regularly to include your most recent experience. Keep your CV factual. You should not exaggerate your work experience or take credit for something which you have not done, as it is easy to find out by calling your previous employer. There is no need to give reasons for why you left an employer or make up for the gaps between employments.


Everything should appear positive on your CV - do not make negative comments about your previous employer, or include any mistakes, omissions, penalties or lawsuits. Neither do you want to include things like race, religious or political affiliations in your CV. Most importantly, do not lie about any experience that you do not have.


You may want to tailor your CV to a particular employer - emphasis on your skills and experience that is most appealing to the potential employer, reduce or even omit skills and experience that are not relevant. Arrange your CV in a logical order - normally chronological with the latest experience at the top.


If you have been changing jobs frequently or have big gaps between employments, you may want to arrange your CV in accordance with different functions (instead of your work history). A functional CV sets up the skills, experience, tasks, duties, and accomplishments you have so any major gap in employment is less noticeable.  


Regardless of the format you choose, there are generally five sections that should be included in all resume:

1, Your basic information (as heading at the top)

2. Career summary

3. Work Experience

4. Education

5. Miscellaneous (Other skills, awards, qualifications)


B. Cover Letter


Most people do not spend much time on their cover letters, but many recruiters see cover letters as important as the CV. A good cover letter sets the tone of the application and should attract the recruiter to read the accompanying CV enthusiastically when going through hundreds of applications. A bad cover letter means the recruiter would not even bother going through your CV.


Cover letter is the perfect opportunity for you to succinctly summarise and re-emphasise the skills and experience you have highlighted in your CV, whilst granting you greater freedom to add a bit of personal touch and tailor it to the targeted company. Every job opening in every company is different so every cover letter should be slightly different.  For example, you may want to telephone the organisation to find out the name of the person to whom you should be writing to. Do try and include something that makes you stand out from the crowd. 


Cover letter is especially useful in a speculative when you are applying for an unsolicited job without much relevant experience. Even if there is no immediate job opening, if your application stands out enough, the potential employer may have you in mind when a position next comes up. A good cover letter can make the difference between throwing out a CV or retaining for future reference.


As with CV, presentation is very important for cover letter.  If the presentation is done professionally then the applicant will also give the impression of being professional. Cover letter is written in first person whereas the CV is written in third person. The opening paragraph should capture the potential employer's attention, with the middle section maintaining the interest of the employer. You should end in a positive, upbeat manner, possibly with a "call to action". 


Whilst you should highlight your strengths and key aspects of the CV, there is no need to repeat what is written on the CV, in particular, avoid copy and pasting. There is no need to talk about expected salary either, the focus should be on how you can contribute to the employer rather than on yourself or your need.  Please also make sure that there are no typos and grammatical mistakes which can be done easily by using the existing software on the market.


C. Declining an Offer


One may have to decline a job offer should there be multiple offers to choose from.  The decline letter should be polite and courteous, first thanking the employer for the offer but unfortunately must decline the offer due to certain reasons. The reason given should be discreet, even if the offer does not meet your expectations. It may yield future dividends to keep a potentially valuable business contact (it is a small world out there), and open up the possibility of future employment or co-operation.