Approaching Employers: Self Presentation
CVs and Cover Notes
Keep in mind what you are looking for. If it's a summer job, your technical skills and knowledge are of more interest
than a long list of your sporting or extra-curricular achievements, which may have been relevant when you were applying to your College.
Try and target your efforts and use named personnel wherever possible.
Any cover note that you write should state clearly who you are,
what you want, when you want it, why they should take you and how they can contact you. Be businesslike and stick to the point.
Your CV should present your personal details, academic record, current studies, any skills and abilities that you have, any measurable
personal achievements and lastly hobbies and interests. I've collected some really bad examples (see Links on the right hand side of the page)
which have been given a makeover to try and help you to eliminate basic errors.
It is always difficult to analyse yourself, that's why some people spend a small fortune asking other people to do it for them. However, whether it's a CV, cover note or interview, below are some of the issues you need to address:
- Anticipating the employers requirements
- Putting forward the most relevant details about yourself
- Structuring and organising your effort coherently
It is important that you present the type of information that the potential employer requires to be able to make a decision as to whether to pursue his/her interest in you or not. Below is a list of some of the things they would like to know:
- Intelligence: you should have no problem demonstrating this
- Reliability: can you turn up and do a day's work consistently?
- Knowledge: in particular, of engineering related matters
- Ability to learn quickly & to work with the minimum of supervision
- Skills: any practical or technical skills that would be useful to the EMPLOYER
- Teamwork: undoubtedly you will be working with others
- Dealing with the public/customers
CV Content and Style:
The biggest assumption that students make is that busy employers are familiar with the course content of the CUED degree, or if they are not, they have the time to go and look it up. Make sure you insert a short summary of your course with particular emphasis on the practical elements. I have some slot in templates for the CUED course for Year 1 and Year 2
Level of Detail
One of the most frequent mistakes is to use too much space on your GCSE results and virtually nothing on your current studies. Students in the past have even omitted to mention they are studying Engineering!
Information should always be presented in reverse chronological order i.e. the things you have done most recently at the top and in greater detail. Employers are more interested in what you are doing now than what you were doing four to five years ago.
Make good use of these in your CV to organise your presentation.
You should always avoid paragraphs in a CV. Bullet points should be used, and are useful as they force you to distil your thoughts more precisely.
The concept of Transferable Skills is a vital job search technique that all job seekers should master, though the concept is especially important for career changers and college students. Transferable skills are skills that you have acquired during any activity in your life - jobs, classes, projects, parenting, hobbies, sports - virtually anything, that are potentially applicable to what you want to do in your next job.
For vacational work it is sufficient to state that you can supply them if necessary.
More Websites on CV Preparation
- UK Government: A Government based web site which is surprisingly informative.
- Prospects: UK Careers website run by the central team for UK Careers Services, so you will find neutral advice from the Prospects people.
- Cambridge University Careers Service: CUCS has a wealth of expertise in this area.
Direct Contact with Employers - Telephone Canvass
The next stage may be that you want to follow up your messages to employers and I have some Telephone Tips so that you can find out what stage your application has reached.