CV (Curriculum Vitae) Preparation: Writing the perfect CV and Cover Letter

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When it comes to finding a job, the market is very competitive. Whether it’s a part-time retail gig to help you survive through college or your dream internship, there are a few things you need to know when it comes to your CV (Curriculum Vitae) preparation and writing the perfect cover letter. 

CV (Curriculum Vitae) Preparation

Your CV is where you get to sell yourself to potential employers; you have the chance to show off and highlight your good points. Never use the same CV twice but tailor each application to the particular job on offer. A typical CV is no longer than two pages – employers don’t want to know about that time you won the egg and spoon race! Make sure you do include all the following information though…

Personal Details

Keep this part short and sweet. You don’t have to put in your date of birth, but this is generally a good idea. Include contact information so employers can get in touch with you – they will need your home address, mobile number, and email address.

Opening Paragraph / Objective

Include a sentence or two describing your career goals and summarising why you are perfect for the job available.

Education / Qualifications / Training

This should include details of your Leaving Cert and other exam results. If you have other qualifications or certifications, such as an ECDL course or driving licence, then you should also put them down here.

Employment History

Include the employer’s name, your specific job title and a summary of your responsibilities and achievements. Start with your most recent job, but don’t worry if you don’t have more than one, or even none. School-leavers aren’t expected to have that much work experience. However, don’t sell yourself short. Even if you don’t count helping out in your aunt’s shop as work, employers will.

Interests and Achievements

This is your chance to impress an employer with your positive characteristics and to let some of your personality shine through. Pick attributes and hobbies that you can link to the job you are going for – people skills, artistic tendencies and sporting triumphs are all favourable.


You will need the names and contact details of two people who will vouch for your character. Pick people who know you well – maybe your school principal and a former employer. Ask permission in advance so the referees will not be surprised to get a call.

Once you have finished, show it to friends or family and get them to read through it for any grammar and spelling mistakes. It can also be a good idea to ask for their general impression of your CV – was it easy to read, is there anything you should add? You don’t necessarily have to take their advice but it is often helpful to have it.

Obviously, you want to present yourself in the best possible light in your CV, but avoid the temptation to make things up. Blatant exaggerations and total lies will usually get found out during an interview, and they will blow your chances completely.

The Cover Letter

The cover letter that you put with your CV and/or completed application form is also very important. This should be one page, short and to the point. Mention which position you are applying for and where you saw the job ad. Highlight the skills and experiences that make you a suitable candidate. Tell the employer why you think you would be good at the job – e. g. an outgoing personality would be an important asset for a sales position.

It is also essential to write a cover letter if you are applying to a company “on spec” – that is, you haven’t seen a position advertised but you want them to think of you if a job does come up. In this case, state what area you would like to work in and why you think you would be good at it, and ask to be informed if any such position arises.

Be careful when you are sending your CV by email. Pay as much attention to the email as you would to a traditional cover letter. Don’t use emoticons. Save the file with your CV as MY NAME CV. doc to make it easier for the employer to pick out. It is very, very embarrassing to have to send a second email apologising for forgetting to send the attachment first time around.

While these tips are very important, nothing beats feedback from an expert who’s working in this field, which is why choosing a course which has CV (Curriculum Vitae) preparation as one of the modules is invaluable. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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