An application form, CV and covering letter are your self-marketing tools.

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An application form, CV and covering letter are your self-marketing tools. Each one will positively highlight your skills, achievements and experiences and should be tailored to the opportunity you are applying for.

Application forms

Application forms allow employers to compare groups of candidates and are often the first point of contact that you will have with an employer.  

In addition to the required sections about your education, training and employment, most application forms will also have a box of free text for you to describe how your study, work experiences and skills developed are relevant to the job role. This is your opportunity to give a range of evidence demonstrating how you match the requirements of the Person Specification in the Job Description.  Recruiters aim to mark every application form in relation to the required skills within the Person Specification and will look for evidence from you as an applicant that you have used these skills.  

To build a strong application form book an appointment with your Faculty Employability Adviser.  Additionally, there's lots of good advice on the TARGETjobs and Prospects websites.

Covering Letters

A covering letter accompanies a CV or application and may be an attached document within an email or may form the content of an email itself. The aim of this letter/email is to persuade the employer to read your CV or application and to highlight why you are interested in the job and why you are suitable. Therefore it should clearly address the key skills and criteria outlined in the advertisement and job specification.

Recruiters are busy people and are looking for information in order to quickly identify the candidates which match their criteria.  Aim to grab their attention and make them interested in knowing more about you by reading your CV.

Your email/letter must be laid out professionally, be no more than 1 page of A4. If possible, find a named person to send the letter to.

Create your CV

A CV is your “professional selling document” which hopefully will move you to the next stage in the recruitment process. Create a CV that is no longer than 2 sides of A4, which is the norm for CVs in the UK for those  seeking placements or volunteering or graduate jobs.

This checklist will give you top tips to create a professional CV that will help you to stand out from the crowd. Put yourself in the position of the recruiting employer. Is your CV:

  • A positive summary of your skills and experience tailored to the job role and organisation you are apply to?
  • Professional? Present your CV so that it has a logical structure with clearly headed sections, that it reads professionally with business-like language.
  • Well laid out and easy to read? Ensure that the important information is found quickly and easily on page 1. Use obvious headings for sections, bold typeface, bullet-points or small paragraphs, all for ease of reading.
  • Include “white space” so the text doesn’t look cramped with a font size as a minimum of 11. Does the CV create a positive visual image?
  • Written with clear and concise language? Is it free from grammatical and spelling errors, with no jargon or abbreviations?
  • In a logical order? Does your CV showcase your most relevant skills on page 1 with Education and Work Experience laid out with the most recent first?
  • Skills and competence-based? Does it describe evidence of your skills gained from a variety of sources, from work, academic study, clubs or teams you are involved with? Many employers like a “Skills” focused CV.
  • Tailored to the job/organisation you are applying to? You will need to amend your content and maybe the format of your CV to suit each job that you apply for.
  • Achievements: Have you added information about an achievement of yours, either via a course project or something else?

For more information, top tips and example CV templates take a look at our online step-by-step guide to writing a CV

Get in touch

If you would like to get in touch you can also contact us by email on or phone on 01962 827310