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Get the most out of your CV and cover letter

Written by: Charlotte Reed
Published on: 29 Mar 2023

Did you know research suggests a recruiter will make a decision about your CV within 20 seconds?

Producing a strong CV and cover letter puts you ahead of the interview process and creates a good impression before even speaking with a recruiter. 

But what do you need to include? The CV should include your contact information, personal statement, work experience, education and qualifications, and skills relevant to the role. Your cover letter supports your CV and should explain to your potential employer why you are perfect for the role you're applying for.

Here are some top tips to get you started: 

• Start with the presentation and format of your CV and cover letter - make sure it has a clean and clear structure. There are plenty of online CV templates available for you to use. 
• Adapt your CV to align with the job you are applying for. Include jargon that your potential employer has used in the job description and on their website.
Include a strong introduction about yourself. Include your passions as well as your experience applicable to the role. A personal statement sets your tone.
• Proofread, proofread, proofread. Ensure you have checked for spelling errors, grammar, and formatting issues before submitting your application. You want to showcase to your employer that you have good attention to detail.
• Keep your CV short and accurate. One A4 page is enough space to include everything you need.
Stand out from the crowd. The likelihood is your recruiter has been reading hundreds of the same CVs and cover letters. You want to include why you are the perfect candidate for the role, but make sure to engage them. Otherwise, you risk losing their interest.
Back up any statements with evidence. You should provide examples of when you have used your developed skills to problem-solve a situation, preferably in a workplace environment. 
Start your cover letter with a clear opening. Make it clear which job you are applying for. For example, 'In response to your advertisement on ICAEW Training Vacancies for *name the role title*, I enclose my CV for your consideration.'
Include your work eligibility. If you are applying for a job in a country requiring a work permit or visa, include your eligibility to work or if you need an employer sponsorship.
Align with your CV and cover letter. Your cover letter should align with your CV in both content and design. They should come as a package and complement each other, not be duplicated content.

Most importantly, do not undersell yourself. Your CV and cover letter is your time to show off your skills and impress recruiters. 

CV Search 

Are you ready to apply? On our ICAEW Training Vacancies platform, you can upload your CV and get in front of employers actively searching for students to fill exciting opportunities. 

All you have to do is register or log on to the ICAEW Training Vacancies platform, head to your profile, and update your CV. Remember to tick the box that asks for your permission to appear for employers. Once completed, employers will have access to your CV and get in contact with you. 

Good luck with your job search. The start of your career is just a few clicks away.