Writing CV’s and Applications.


Many job seekers find writing a CV or application perplexing.

What are employers looking for exactly? How do my experiences match the job? How do I deal with the fact that I have no work experience?  I don’t think I have any skills?  I am not sure where to start can you help??…. are all questions that GSAcareers have been asked by students, often just as a job deadline is a approaching and the task of writing great CV seems really challenging.

The key to success in writing fantastic CV’s and applications is simple… its preparation!

Benjamin Franklin famously said ‘by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ which is so true when it comes to writing a great CV or application.  If you undertake careful research at the start of an application process and have a clear idea of what the employer is looking for and know how your skills and experiences can match to the opportunity, you will find writing a CV or application will become a much more straight forward process.

Getting prepared…

Identifying your skills …Start by recording  all your experiences and activities such as; your learning, previous part time/full time work, volunteering, competitions, awards,  achievements,  social groups and clubs, enterprising activities, mentoring, placements and work experience. Reflect and record the types of skills, responsibilities and task you developed or applied during those experiences. This is often when job seekers struggle and become unsure about how to identify or articulate their skills. Make sure that you help yourself at this stage by doing some research on job descriptions and career profiles so that you  become familiar with a range of skills and competencies associated with different tasks and activities.  Prospects http://www.prospects.ac.uk   has a great range of job descriptions available and provides an excellent source for skill /aptitude descriptions.  Also see sector websites on the ‘links’ page of this blog.

If you have limited or no work experience, focus on you learning experiences and identify projects and activities undertaken through your GSA course that can help you evidence your abilities.

Research the opportunity and employer…Do your homework on the position that you are applying to.  Read all you can about the vacancy advertised. Search on the company’s website to gain a sense of the business/organisation and its work. Research similar positions, to identify there skills and experience requirements.  Sector websites (see the links page on this blog) and industry magazines can also help you to identify professional skills and types of experience required by the industry. Record all the details that you can, as this will help you to target effectively within your application.

Match your skills, experience and abilities to the opportunity …Think about all the skills, experience, interests that you have to date, ask yourself; what skills directly match the employers wants? What experiences can be used to evidence these skills? What additional experiences might the employer consider really interesting? and what other transferable skills do I have that match the employer’s needs?

Spend some time matching and targeting your skills and experiences to the job requirements. Never leave employers guessing about the relevance of your experiences. Employers may not automatically know what skills you have achieved by studying at GSA,  or undertaking a particular project, or a past work experience. Make sure that your CV and applications highlight your suitability for the job, through positive descriptions,  well evidenced skills and concise writing.   For information on writing in a positive way and using power words within CV’s and applications see Prospects: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/job_applications_power_words.htm

Sources of Further Information:

CV writing

See Careers Creative Living; http://www.careers-creative-living.co.uk  for further advice on CV building for creative people within the ‘moving on’ section.

For further advice on writing a great CV see:  http://prospects.ac.uk/cvs.htm

Job Applications

For further advice on writing a great job application see:  http://prospects.ac.uk/job_applications_personal_statements.htm

Disclosing a Disability

See Directgov : http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/Employmentsupport/LookingForWork/DG_4000219

Disability Toolkits: http://www.disabilitytoolkits.ac.uk/students/DisclosingDisability.pdf

International Perspective

Applying for roles aboard, don’t forget that different countries may have slightly different approach to CV and applications see: Prospects country profiles for information and further advice: http://www.propsects.ac.uk/country_profiles.htm

International student and not sure how your qualifications translate into the UK market? Naric  http://www.naric.org.uk

International student and not sure about working in the UK during your studies: UKCISA http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/student/working_during.php

Finally use all the advice and support available to you:  The GSACareers is here to help you with all your career needs. You can use the service at any point of your studies  If you are unsure about any aspect of  CV or applications approach, please seek further  advice at;   careers@gsa.ac.uk  0141 353 4482  and drop into career workshops details found on:



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