Getting a new job

Your cover letter introduces your CV, which gets you an interview, which gets you a job, so let’s take each in turn:

Your cover letter

Put yourself in your prospective employer’s shoes. They are likely to be busy people. So short and sweet is probably best i.e. why you want the job and the key strengths you can offer – i.e. how you can offer what they have said they want in their job ad/person spec.

Your CV

For most job applications forget long medical CVs. Employers won’t have all day to read them. Two sides of A4 should be the max. Include your education, qualifications etc but don’t make a meal of it – concentrate on showing what you’ve achieved in your life/career so far.

Probably most important is to have strong bullet points that explain what your key skills, strengths and achievements have been particularly in the most recent years of your career and in areas the employer is likely to be most interested in.

Where a career change is being considered it is often much more appropriate to have a “skills set” or “function” CV rather than a traditional “reverse chronology” CV. This enables the prospective employer to learn about your transferable and employable skills and achievements relevant to their organisational needs (as set out in their Person Spec) before considering the job you have previously held.

The CBI (Confederation of British Industry) identifies the following as key employability skills: self management; team working; business and customer awareness; problem solving; communication and literacy; numeracy; and application of IT – plus a positive ‘can do’ approach.

Another advantage is that it enables any employment gaps to be de-emphasised and explained after you have hopefully interested them in your transferable skills and experiences.

The good news about CVs is that even to this day, the vast majority are not very good. So, by applying some best practice principles you’ve a better than average chance of achieving success. For example don’t send every employer the same CV – customise each to show you’re meeting their needs. It takes a bit longer but if you want to get an interview....