When applying for a job, there are some things you might have to do:
- Send a résumé or a CV ( Curriculum Vitae)
- Fill in an application form
- Write a letter applying for a job
In this post, I’ll guide you step by step to help you write a good cover letter and a résumé
- Step 1. The difference between a résumé and a CV
- Step 2. Writing a CV or a résumé. Templates
- Step 3. Writing a cover letter. Some tips.
- Step 4. Layout of a cover letter.
- Step 5. Sending your cover letter via email.
- Step 6. Some tips on how to answer a job interview.
Step 1. What’s the difference between a résumé and a CV?
It’s more or less the same. The CV is longer than the résumé. The résumé includes a summary of your education, experience, and skills and it’s usually one page long whereas the CV is two or three pages long and includes more details like research, awards, presentations, publications …etc. It’s ideal for academics.
- Keep it simple. It shouldn’t be longer than two pages.
- The content should be easy to read
- Use reverse chronological order. You should put your most recent job first and then write the other jobs going back in time.
- You don’t have to write full sentences. Ex: “Developed a social media strategy…”
- Skip personal information such “Divorced and with 2 kids”.
Step 2. Writing a CV or résumé. Templates.
Here are two links to templates to write your CV or résumé. (Please note that this is not a sponsored post)
- Canva: you will need to register. Find the templates in the Documents section. Make sure you use a free template
- Uptowork: provides guided free templates to build your résumé or CV.
Step 3: Writing a cover letter. Some tips
A job application letter, also known as cover letter normally accompanies a résumé or CV. Nowadays, unless you are specifically required to send a letter by snail mail, cover letters are normally sent by email or attached as a file in online application systems.
Sending an email instead of a letter makes little difference. It’s only the layout that varies slightly.
Now here are some tips:
- Use formal language.
- Don’t use contractions and punctuation such as dashes and exclamation marks.
- Don’t use personal or emotional language.
- If you are replying to an advertisement, relate to all the points asked for and give additional information.
- Mention your skills and experience and give supporting details.
- Have spaces between paragraphs
- Keep it short and to the point.
- Use a professional email address; firstname.lastname@example.org might not be appropriate or very professional.
- Remember to check that you have used the appropriate style for the person you are writing to.
- Check your email carefully for spelling, grammar mistakes, and punctuation
- Make sure you sign your cover letter.
- If you are sending your CV or résumé, put “Enclosed: CV/résumé” at the end of
your cover letter
Step 4. Layout of a cover letter.
On the Right
- Your address: on the right-hand side of the page (without your name)
- Date: below your address. Leave a blank line in between.
On the left
- Position/name of the person you are writing to. Start one line below the date.
- Address of the person or company you are writing to.
Use an appropriate formal greeting. Use a comma after the greeting or nothing.
If you know the name of the person you are writing to:
- Dear Mrs/Miss/ Ms + surname if you are writing to a woman
- Dear Mr+ surname if you are writing to a man.
If you don’t know their names, use
- Dear Sir or Madam or Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Human Resource Manager
- Alternatively, you can use To whom it may concern
Note that all the salutations start with Dear.
Follow the salutation with a comma.
Opening Paragraph: Always start by stating what the purpose of your letter is. Here you should mention the position you are applying for and where you learn of the vacancy. This section should be short and to the point. It’s the most important part of your letter. Here, either you grab the reader’s attention or you can bore him and decide not to continue reading.
Some useful expressions:
- I am writing in response to your advertisement for…
- I am writing to express my interest in the …. position listed on …(name of the website)
- I am writing with reference to your advertisement…
- I would like to apply for the …. position advertised in /on……
Main Body: It can be divided into several paragraphs. Organise your content into the different paragraphs.
Here you need to expand on your experience and qualifications showing how you are relevant to this job. Give clear details and examples. You don’t need to repeat all the information on your résumé but highlight what is relevant to this position. Emphasize your strengths.
Emphasize also your interest in the job and why you think you are suitable for the job. Remember that your goal is to get a job interview.
If you have attached a copy of your résumé or completed an application form, mention it.
- I think I am the right person for the job because…
- I feel I am well qualified for the position
- I think I have the knowledge and experience that is needed for…
- I have some/ a lot of experience working with…
- With regard to your requirements, I believe that I am a suitable candidate for this post as
- I believe I would be good at…
- I believe I would make a good …. because I am…
- I am very reliable and I get on well with people…
- I have always had an interest in…
- I think I would be suitable for the job / a good choice ( to be a/ an…) because...
Explain why you think your application should be taken into consideration. If relevant, mention that you enclose a CV/ reference. State that you are willing to attend an interview and thank the reader.
- A résumé/CV giving details of my qualifications and experience is attached
- As requested, I am enclosing my CV and two references and my completed job application
- I hope you will consider me for the position.
- I would be able to start immediately
- I would be happy to attend an interview any time convenient to you.
- Using I look forward to hearing from you or Thank you for your time and consideration are good ways to end a formal letter
- End with Yours faithfully if you begin with Dear Sir/Madam
- End with Yours sincerely if you begin with Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms + surname
In American English, Yours truly and Yours sincerely are commonly used in both cases.
If in the greeting you have followed the salutation with a comma, write a comma also after Yours faithfully/sincerely.
Some words commonly used in job applications
Nouns such as preference, qualifications, company, reference, information, opportunity, experience, position, vacancy, ability, advertisement, employment, résumé, details, interview…etc
Verbs such as apply, reply, advertise…etc
Adjectives such as convenient, excellent, qualified, enthusiastic, necessary, energetic, suitable, available, attached, experienced, interested, responsible, possible, friendly…etc
Adverbs such as immediately, recently, extremely, sincerely…etc
Get some practice writing cover letters here
- Exercises+ sample letter
- Exercises+ sample layout / Key
- Exercise 1
- Exercise 2. Listening Comprehension
- Exercise 3: prepositions
- Exercise 4:formal/informal expressions
Step 5. Sending your cover letter via email
- In the subject line of the message, write your name and the job you are applying for.
- Don’t write the date or the employer’s contact information. Start your email with the salutation
- Don’t forget to write all your contact details after you sign off.
Write a cover letter/email applying for one of these two jobs.
Step 6: Some tips on how to answer a job interview
- When they ask you to describe yourself in three words, they are asking you about your professional persona and how you would fit in the company. Talk about what makes you stand out. Talk about accomplishments and skills that you know are relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Do some research on the company and show it in your answers.
- Don’t give them personal details. They are not really interested in your life or your problems.
- It’s Ok to ask the interviewer questions about the job. You also want to make sure this is the right job for you and at the same time show the interviewer you are interested in the job. Prepare them beforehand and try not to ask yes/no questions:
- Can you tell me about the responsibilities of this job?
- What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- Avoid questions about salary, holidays, etc
Hope this post helps you get the best job 🙂
PDF for this lesson here
Special thanks to Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat from English with a Twist for answering some of my questions.
Here’s a funny sketch where former President Obama tries to sharpen his skills to pass a job interview. Don’t miss it!