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Job Application - CV / Resume / Cover Letter

A. CV / Resume

The two documents that are required in every job application are a 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 resume or CV (short for Curriculum Vitae) is your marketing brochure that outlines your experience, employment history, qualifications, achievements, skills, education, and other backgrounds that would induce a prospective employer to grant you an interview. It is important for your CV 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 organizational 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 to avoid a lengthy application - preferably 1-2 pages but no more than 2 pages.

The information contained in your 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 for your future employer(s) to find out by contacting your previous employer(s). There is no need to give reasons for why you left a company or make up for the gaps between employment.

Everything should appear positive on your CV - do not make negative comments about your previous employer(s) or include any mistakes, omissions, penalties, or lawsuits. Neither do you want to include personal details like race, religion, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, or political affiliation 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 - emphasise your skills and experience that are most appealing to the potential employer and reduce or even omit skills and experience that are irrelevant. 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 that 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 resumes:

1. Your basic information (as heading at the top);

2. Career summary;

3. Work experience;

4. Education; and

5. Miscellaneous (other skills, awards, qualifications).

It is essential to include keywords associated with specific disciplines or industries. Everything is computerized and it is common for employers and recruiters to search for keywords to match with profiles. Hiring managers will also screen for keywords manually when doing a high-level job of resume screening. As such, it would help to use keywords heavily at the beginning of the resume, and not at the end to allow recruiters to pick them up easily.  Keywords are nouns relating to skills that can be highlighted to increase visibility to a recruiter. They should appear at the top of the resume. You can even include them as a keyword summary - for example, a list of all the relevant skills for the job before everything else in the resume.

B. Cover Letter

Most people do not spend much time on their cover letters, but many recruiters see cover letters as just as important as resumes. 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.

The cover letter is the perfect opportunity for you to succinctly summarise and re-emphasize the skills and experience that 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. Do try and include something that makes you stand out from the crowd.

A cover letter is especially useful in a speculative when you are making an unsolicited job application 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 it for future reference.

As with a CV, a presentation is very important for a cover letter.  If the presentation is done professionally, the applicant will also give out the impression of being professional. A cover letter is written in the first person whereas a CV is written in the 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 and 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 your CV. In particular, avoid copying and pasting. There is also no need to talk about the expected salary as the focus should be on how you can contribute to the employer rather than on yourself or your needs.  Please also make sure that there are no typos and grammatical mistakes which can be done easily by using existing software on the market.

C. Thank You and Follow Up

It is a good idea to reach out to the interviewer within one day after the interview to thank him/her for the opportunity. You should express that you are very keen on the opportunity and why you are a very good fit for the role in your thank you note.

On when to follow up, if you do not hear from the employer, the best way is to ask when you would be expecting to hear back at the interview. You can then follow up if the employer does not get in touch with you after the date. If the employer did not indicate a date, it is generally acceptable to follow up one week after the interview. If you have an offer on hand but are waiting for a job that you are more interested in, you can politely let the potential employer that kept you waiting for the results. If the employer is interested, he/she will likely give you an offer immediately.  

Follow-up is only effective if made before any decision is made. However, you do not want to sound too pushy and should follow up only after the time they indicated that they will get in touch with you has lapsed (preferably within one week). It is important to be polite, and sincere and indicate that you are very keen on the job. If the employer is deciding between two similar candidates, he/she would pick the one that appears to be more interested in the opportunity. Avoid too much follow-up by only following up once. If the employer did not get back to you after the follow-up, you can treat it as a rejection.

D. 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 cooperation.

Documents
Job Application Cover Letter
With Relevant Experience
Job Application Cover Letter
Unsolicited with No Experience
CV - Resume
Creative Designer
CV - Resume
Project Manager
Job Application Cover Letter
Career Change / No Relevant Experience
CV - Resume
Little / No Work Experience
Job Application - Reject / Decline Offer by Candidate
Retained by Current Employer
Job Application Cover Letter
Summer Job / Internship
CV - Resume
Secretarial / Administrative Support
CV - Resume
Skills / Trades
Job Application - Candidate to Employer
Confirmation of Interview
Job Application Cover Letter
Application for Managerial Post
Job Application Cover Letter
Unsolicited with Relevant Experience
Job Application Letter - Candidate to Employer
Joining Letter / Accept Offer / Acceptance Letter
CV - Resume
Programmer / Developer
CV - Resume
Sales Supervisor / Manager
Job Application - Candidate to Employer
Follow up after lapse of time
Job Application - Candidate to Employer
Request for Interview Feedback
Job Application - Candidate to Employer
Thank you for Interview
Job Application - Reject / Decline Offer by Candidate
Other Opportunity
Job Application Cover Letter
Graduate
Thank You Letter
To Interviewer / Employer after Interview
CV - Resume
Medical
Job Application - Candidate to Employer
Provision of Additional Information
Job Application - Candidate to Employer
Senior Secretarial / Administrative Role
Job Application - Reject / Decline Offer by Candidate
Different Career Goal
Job Application Cover Letter
By Recommendation / Referral
Job Application Cover Letter
Internal Referral

Documents

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