Less is more.
Less words that is – think about writing a poem rather than a story. Every line should have a meaning and add something to the whole. Let the reader join the dots – it’ll be punchier this way and more effective.
Make it relevant.
Make sure you’ve highlighted the relevant experience and skills for the specific position you’re applying for – your covering letter can’t do all the work here, the CV needs to back it up.
We’re sure you’re incredibly attractive, but we don’t need to see what you look like – nice to leave an element of surprise for the meeting.
Links and Social Profile
You’re looking to get into digital media, so make sure your online profile is up to date – if you’re active on Twitter (even just for personal interest), put your Twitter username on there. Make sure there’s nothing on there you wouldn’t want future bosses to see!
If you’re a non-EU resident, it’s best to give some detail of your Visa status and any restrictions/sponsorship required.
This is your chance to sell yourself – your elevator pitch. It should be short, objective and to the point. Let’s get rid of ‘capable of working on my own or as part of a team’ for starters (people aren’t going to assume you can’t just because you don’t write it on your CV). This should be a simple statement, highlighting any relevant qualifications, key skills/achievements or experience, rather than a list of what you’re looking for in your ideal role. These are often more effective when written omnisciently/without person, for example:
“An aspiring digital marketer and a graduate in Economics with 6 months intern experience working for a start-up eCommerce site”
If you’re a fresh graduate or school leaver, this is the main thing you’ve got so make the most of it. Put your grades on there – you’ll be asked them anyway, and make sure you’ve listed dates as well. If your degree covered different modules, list them down (especially the ones which show relevance). If your dissertation covered a relevant topic, list the title and any further relevant information. If you were school captain, part of a society or team it’s often a good idea to note this down as well.
Put the dates down – month and year as a minimum. Make a note of jobs you had during education – shows an ability to balance and a work ethic. Don’t go into loads of detail about jobs that aren’t relevant – 2-3 bullet points are fine. If you have some relevant experience, make the most of it. If the company you’ve worked for isn’t well known, it’s often a good idea to write a short description so the reader can get an idea of scale. For example:
“[name of company] is a high end boutique fashion website which sells handmade jewellery”
Adding a link to the company’s website is another good way to achieve this.
For positions relevant to your application, aim for 5-10 bullet points and focus this on your achievements rather than a list of your duties. In these, give some information about:
- The main function of your role
- Who you reported to and dealt with
- What sort of budgets you were working with
- What impact you had – for example “Contributed over 50 articles to both website and for publishing on third party sites” or “Improved PPC conversion by 15%”
- Any technologies/software you used
If you want to include a section on your skills, bullet points are best again. Keep this focussed around hard skills – your interviewer will determine whether you’re a good communicator or not. Think about scaling this so that the reader can easily see your strengths and limitations. Never exaggerate as you may be tested! For software examples, often good to give an example of your functional ability since ‘beginner/intermediate/advanced’ can be quite subjective. So, instead of:
MS Excel – intermediate
Try MS Excel – intermediate (concatenation, vertical lookups, pivots, recording macros, etc.)
Good to list any courses you’ve been on specific to these areas too. Other good things to include in this section would be technology, web languages, details of other languages spoken, Duke of Edinburgh awards etc.
Keep these to the ones you’re capable of working in and specify whether your capability is written and/or verbal.
Hobbies and Interests
Your chance to show a bit of your character. Good to list any extra-curricular achievements – captain of the hockey team, 3 peaks challenge, etc.. Otherwise any unusual hobbies (beatboxing, needlework, taxidermy, etc.) can make effective prompts for conversation, find common ground with an interviewer and help to break the ice in an interview.
Unless you’re in employment and don’t wish to list your current employer, there’s not point in writing ‘Available on Request’ here. Think about two or three referees who will present you credibly (and favourably) – university lecturers, previous bosses etc.. Make sure you check with them so they know they may get contacted and check they’re OK for you to share their contact details.