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CVs and Cover Letters

CVs and Cover Letters

Chloe Daniell is a Consultant at Inspired Selection, specialising in Entry Level applications.

Q1 How long should a cover letter be?

A cover letter should be no longer than one A4 page and be specific to the role you are applying for. Typically, three to five short paragraphs.

Q2 What information do you need to include in a cover letter?

You need to highlight relevant skills & experience for the position you are applying for in mind. This shouldn’t duplicate your CV! Be concise, identify your unique selling points and be positive about what you have to offer.

The most important thing is to tailor you cover letter to the role you are applying for. Why that company? Why that role in particular? Generic cover letters not identifying either of those things don't stand out from the crowd. This is particularly important with entry level.

Q3 How can I make my CV stand out?

Be clear, concise and ensure that you have outlined your key responsibilities for each position. If there is a job description for the role you are applying for, go back to it and see if there are any responsibilities that are on this that aren’t on your CV.

Even things down to different systems that you have used, what social media channels, do you have a blog or an active professional Twitter profile? Think about how you can make yourself stand out from the crowd.

What makes you different to everyone else applying for the role? Why should the hiring manager choose you? Remember that the hiring manager probably doesn't know who you are or what your role involves day-to-day. It can be simple things that you have missed out that prevent you from being selected for interview. I would also recommend referring back to the original job description you were given for each role you have been in. What points can you add or expand on?

Q4 Does a CV need to fit on one page?

There is lots of conflicting advice on CVs - but the quick answer to this is no, but 2 pages should be the maximum.

Q5 What is the most common mistake you see on a CV?

Ooooh what a question! Lots of comments about this one!

  1. Wrong information within personal profiles that aren’t tailored to the role you are applying for.
  2. Including ‘attention to detail’ as a skill but lots of mistakes within CV.
  3. Using templates or columns that are unclear and make your CV difficult to read.
  4. Not putting dates of employment.
  5. Not outlining responsibilities within each position or writing lengthy paragraphs that are unclear instead of concise bullet points.
  6. Listing experience the wrong way round – most recent should be at the top.
  7. Writing CVs in third person! It makes it sound like someone else has written it for you.

Sorry - there isn't just one!

Q6 How many references should I include?

None - references should not be included on the CV. These can be provided at the point of an offer being made. ‘References provided upon request’ can be written on your CV instead.

Q7 Are there any places to share my CV with publishing employers online?

Register with @Inspiredjobs, of course! We have a Vacancy Update Service that will keep you updated with new roles! But other ones could be @SYP_UK @ipghq and @bookcareers

Q8 How often should I update my CV?

When you have a new qualification or positon to add. If you aren’t getting interviews from applications, it is also a good idea to go back to your CV and see if you can make any changes.

Q9 Should I avoid using a template for my CV?

YES!! There are lots of templates around & many of them are too fancy, using unclear columns & graphics. Also, if you think about the amount of people applying for a position, if 99% of the applications are using the same template - you want to stand out from the crowd!

If you would like to speak to someone also passionate about this - @bookcareers held a workshop at the Society of Young Publishers’ Conference 2018.

Q10 How much space should I devote to describing the skills I have?

A lot of your skills can be outlined within the roles you have had to learn and develop these skills. A common mistake I see is someone bullet pointing things like ‘Editorial skills’ but not elaborating -what have you been editing?

Make sure you elaborate & provide context to your skills & experience. What does ‘communication’ mean? Who are you communicating with & how often? For example, ‘liaising with key stakeholders daily’ is a clearer example. What do you mean by administration? What tasks are involved?

Remember that recruiting managers need to know what you do within your role, they aren’t with you day-to-day and might not even understand what your role is - so outlining this is important.

Work in Publishing Week (19th-23rd November 2018) is a week long campaign to celebrate careers in publishing.