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Mushy99's avatar

Please help me write a covering letter and C.V.

Asked by Mushy99 (156 points ) October 9th, 2009

I have been out of work for quite a while due to looking after my family (I live in the UK), however I am quite eager to find work. I am finding it impossible to even get an interview let alone anything else. I think it may be due to my C.V. and covering letter. I have been a full time Mum and although I have taken and passed my ECDL and learnt a foreign language this has been over 7 years, the rest of the time has been spent looking after my family. I have done some voluntary work in a retail shop and helped out on school trips too. I’m just finding it very difficult to put something together that is going to catch an employers eye (especially in this economic climate). Does anyone have any cool tips or templates I could possibly look at? I am looking for office work and something which may fit in with my child’s school hours (childcare is impossibly expensive here too). I fear that putting down that I can only do school hours may be off-putting and putting down that I have been a full time mum doesn’t look right either. Any help is appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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15 Answers

RedPowerLady's avatar

Do you have something that you have already wrote up that I could look at?

There are a lot of tips available but it helps to have something to work from at first.
Here are some templates though:
http://jobsearch.about.com/od/coverlettersamples/a/coverlettsample.htm
http://jobsearch.about.com/od/coverletters/a/aa030401b.htm
http://www.resume-resource.com/cover-template.html
http://www.career.vt.edu/JOBSEARC/coversamples.htm
http://www.reslady.com/coverletters.html

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/cvsamples/a/cvtemplate.htm
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/CT101043371033.aspx
http://www.cvtips.com/
http://jobsearch.about.com/od/curriculumvitae/Curriculum_Vitae.htm
http://www.free-resume-tips.com/resumetips/curriclm.html

I do think that your CV and your Cover Letter could be what is stopping you from getting a job. If that aren’t ‘up to par’ then it is very easy to get turned down.

Mushy99's avatar

Hi RedPowerLady,

Thanks for you help.

Here is an example of my covering letter which I use and I will post my CV in a moment too:

Dear Madam/Sir,

I wish to apply for the post of Sales Assistant at…....... as advertised in…..

As you will see from my CV, I was working as a Retail Assistant/Sales Assistant in a busy legal and business stationary shop. I was responsible for ordering stock, maintenance of the daily accounts and I have spent a lot of time with customers providing an effective service. I learnt to be well organised, self motivated, being able to work both independently and with others.

I hope my details are of interest to you and I look forward to the opportunity of meeting you to discuss my application.

Yours faithfully,

Mushy99's avatar

I’ve removed my name and address from the top of the CV for security reasons, but the CV is here:

PERSONAL PROFILE

She is a keen, conscientious, hard-working and reliable person. She is a good timekeeper and gets on well with people. She can work well either on her own or as part of a team. She can adapt to any environment and would like to use her skills to contribute positively to any work situation.

KEY SKILLS

 Fully IT literate in Microsoft Office: – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Email and the Internet.
 Good Typing Skills.
 Strong language skills in English (IELTS Examination 2005 – Manchester University), Slovak, fluent Czech, basic German and Russian.
 Excellent communication skills.
 Ability to work independently.
 Problem solving and organisational skills.
 Dealing with the public in a customer service role.

WORK HISTORY

2008 – 2009 Voluntary work in a Retail Fashion Outlet in Northwich – Sales Assistant/Customer Service Role. Voluntary work at a local school – supervision of children on school activities.

2002 – 2007 Voluntary work at a local school. Studied ECDL- Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Email, Internet, Outlook and Access .

2001 – 2002 Clerical Assistant for AQA (Assessment Qualifications Alliance) in Manchester. I was responsible for data entry, invoicing, checking integrity of data, photocopying and filing.

1998 – 2001
Working as a childminder. Responsible for looking after nine children. Duties included: picking up the children, cooking, doing homework with them, playing games.

1994 – 1998 Management of a retail store, responsible for ordering stock and maintenance of the daily accounts, supervising staff as well as performing general administrative duties.

EDUCATION/QUALIFICATIONS

 C&G Certificate in Advanced Numeracy and Literacy – 2008 / 2009.
 BCS Certificate for IT – 2007.
 ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence)
Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook – 2007.
 IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Manchester University – 2005.
 Pharmaceutical Grammar School in Slovakia (1990 – 1994)
 ‘A’ Level Equivalent Qualifications :- Chemistry, Chemical Processing, Pharmacology, Slovak Language and Literature, Russian Language.

PERSONAL DETAILS

Date of birth : 18th August, 1974
Marital status : Married
Driving licence : Full UK driving licence.

INTERESTS

 Keeping fit/gym, travelling, reading, listening to music, learning new languages.

REFERENCES

 Available upon request

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Mushy99 Here are some tips. If you want to re-post after you make corrections I’ll be happy to help out some more. The tips are written matter-of-factly so I apologize if they sound blunt. I do not mean to be so, it is just easier to write them in that manner.

As far as the cover letter goes.
– You need to promote yourself more. You give details about the jobs you have done. But you should be saying you have certain skills. I have skills in customer service and data entry. I have had multicultural competence training and confidentiality training. Those sorts of things. Do not be overly modest and do not simply state what they can easily read in your CV.
– Do not start the second paragraph by saying as you will see in my CV. Look at the cover letter templates and choose a better opening sentence.
– The first paragraph should be at least three sentences long. One sentence you could include is why you want the position and another is why you think you will be good for the position.
– In the last paragraph I would eliminate the idea that you “hope” they find the information interesting. Instead assume they do find it useful. Say something like, with my skills and experience I would be a great asset for this position. I look forward to…

You should also check on your spelling. Learnt is actually learned.

JLeslie's avatar

I have some suggestions, but I am in the states so how I would word some things might not be a typical way to word things where you live.

First, I would not talk about what you learned, I would simply state the skills you have that apply for the particular job, and say why you want to work there. I kind of took what you wrote and changes it slightly.

Dear Madam/Sir,

I wish to apply for the post of Sales Assistant at…....... as advertised in…..

I have extensive retail experience. My responsibilities included but were not limited to sales, ordering stock, and maintenance of the daily accounts. I am well organised, self motivated, and work well both independently and with others.

I have attached my CV for your review, I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss my interest and qualifications.

Yours faithfully,

I look at the CV next.

RedPowerLady's avatar

CV Tips:

- Personal Profile: Is it typical to write out of the first-person, that means to say “she” instead of talking about yourself? I prefer that you talk about yourself unless that is typical in your country. I would also try and think of a couple details that are specific to your personality. Hard-working for example is good but very general and most everyone uses it.

- Key Skills: Do not use the word “Good”. It is too general and not a good descriptor.
When discussing your languages you should consider breaking them up into separate sentences. It is a bit hard to read as-is. Also the last two skills do not fit in with the same style you were using for the first few. So be careful to keep your style fitting throughout the entire CV.

- Work History: In your work history there is an odd mix of capitals and lower-case letters. When you use an acronym (ACA) then you put the full title and forget about the acronym or alternative use the full title and put the acronym in parentheses. Also there is not a fluent style in this section as well. Some jobs you state where they were located and in others you do not. Also take a look at the childminder position. It is not formatted the same as the others.

- Education & Qualifications: What are all the acronyms??? Your education and qualifications are very impressive. I would consider moving them to the top of the CV.

- Personal Details: In the US we are not allowed to include this information. Is that different where you live?

- Interests: Eliminate this section. You could add other sections if appropriate such as professional awards, trainings, interview committees, volunteer work, publications etc…

- References: It is much better to provide at least three references with the CV and not to say ‘upon request’. This creates an extra step for the employer and some employers will simply not want to take that extra step.

please feel free to ask questions

Mushy99's avatar

Red / JLeslie,

Many many thanks for your tips so far, I will work on my covering letter and CV all day tomorrow and re-post incorporating your ideas and corrections. Red it’s typical here to write as the third person in the CV.

Regards,

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Mushy99 Thanks for that note about the third person, that is quite interesting.

JLeslie's avatar

My CV is retail so I copy/pasted some of it here. I think I might have more executive experience, so don’t get thrown by that, I’m hoping it might help you in your brain storming. Headings for each section are in Cap’s

Name and address at the top then
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATION

•Experienced retail professional with a track record of exceeding sales goals through careful planning and implementation of product launches, special events, training, directing large diverse teams, evaluating stock and sales plans, and building strong relationships with clients.
•Results-oriented contributor who utilizes strong analytical skills to accurately evaluate brand needs and develop and implement effective strategies to increase sales.
•Strong merchandising skills with a focus on rotating stock, precision folding, sizing, and creating displays.
•Accustomed to high-pressure situations, able to manage sudden business and market changes
•Effective communicator able to employ excellent interpersonal skills to conduct negotiations with vendors and collaborate with management.
•Multicultural experience; conversational Spanish.
•Excellent Computer Skills including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Inforem, PhotoShop, and SABRE systems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
I wrote here my successes in exceeding sales goals, stock turn, acknowledgements or honorable mentions.

WORK HISTORY (start with what you want to have stand out, so you might want the position at the top or the company at the top, whichever is better, I would not start with the date).
Bloomingdale’s, Boca Raton, FL
August 1990 to August 1998
Cosmetics Buyer and Department Manager
•Tracked product sales for a $5.5 million business, utilizing strong analytical skills to monitor trends.
•Adjusted stock assortment leading to a 45% increase in sales within the first year.
•Created Stock and Sales plans for over 30 brands, meeting with Account Executives monthly to write orders and plan events.
•Extremely successful fragrance and treatment launches, consistently asked to speak at meetings to explain methods for exceeding sales goals.
•Managed staff of 28 associates, including Counter Managers, Beauty Advisors, and Stock People.
•Successfully improved computer generated forecasting systems to meet daily stock needs, and promotional events by effectively analyzing reports and discussing stock needs with Counter Managers.
•Conducted training for Customer Service, Register, Marketing database, and Inforem.
•Increased morale and teamwork among staff members through an open-door policy, strong communication skills, and a strong show of support.
•Collaborated with Vendor Account Executives to determine products for display and methods for achieving goals of promotional campaigns.

EDUCATION

Another suggestion:

You could also organize by skill first, so you could keep name at the top the SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS then ACCOMPLISHMENTS and then PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE where you can list by category of skill, so as to not dwell that you were working voluntarily lately. Subheadings under Professional experience might be:

SALES
BUYING
ORGANISATIONS SKILLS

Below each you could put bullets describing what you did related to each skill. Then EMPLOYMENT HISTORY would be very brief with place, title and dates. Finally EDUCATION.

I hope that was not very confusing.

Mushy99's avatar

JLeslie,

That is a great help too. I could use some of that definitely.

Again, many thanks too.

JLeslie's avatar

Of course on the page you would want to format and use italics and bold to make it look more professional.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@JLeslie I was going to mention that as well. Good one.

sakura's avatar

http://www.reed.co.uk/CareerTools/Default.aspx?WT.mc_id=SE-Google-CareerTools-cv_template-cv+template&WT.srch=1&gclid=CKnym4nNt50CFdRb4wodaQyQkg

This is a usseful website, I am with this job agency as a supply teacher, the only thing I have done, is fiddle with the style/ adding boarders and different fonts but the layout is a pretty good one to follow.

I agree with not using she is good at… try I am instead!

Good Luck with your job hunting its not easy but it will happen

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