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Students' Guide

Making a Cover Letter

What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a document sent with your CV/resume to provide additional information on your skills and experience. A cover letter typically provides detailed information on why you are qualified for the job you are applying for. Effective cover letters explain the reasons for your interest in the specific organization and identify your most relevant skills or experiences. Covering letter is an opportunity for you to sell yourself to the employer. It should be detailed enough to make you stand out and concise enough to retain interest.

Why do we need a cover letter?

The cover letter is vital to your CV. This is why it is the first page and not an addition. Your cover letter demonstrates your writing style better than your CV (which is usually more brief and factual).
The cover letter points out to the employer the information showing that you have the qualities the job calls for, and makes a statement about yourself and your suitability for the job.

How to write a cover letter?

Be clear about the position you are applying for in each company, research company through web sources, news articles, journals, publications and meeting with company representatives / employees, employers want to see that you have identified a clear link between the work they do and your personal interests and skills, refer to any detailed conversation you may have had with a company representative or employee.

Explain why you are the best person for the company and how your skills will meet the company's needs. Link your experience, skills and qualifications to what the employer has asked for, and show that you meet the job requirements. Use two or three key examples to show the employer you're suitable for the job, and will make an impact or get results in the role.

Sell yourself – explain how you can contribute to the company. Focus on what you have to offer, rather than what you want.

The covering letter should be no more than one side of A4.

The font should be professional in appearance, with an absolute minimum font size of 11.

The actual text of your covering letter should be 2/3 to 3/4 of a page long.

In short, the cover letter is something in which you briefly describe about qualifications, your skills, which company and position and company you are applying for and why?

Click here to download Sample Cover Letters

Writing the Resume

What is a Resume?
A resume is a summary of your relevant education, experiences, skills and accomplishments relevant to the field of work you are entering. A resume highlights your accomplishments to show a potential employer that you are qualified for the position you are seeking. To prepare a successful resume you will need to review, summarize and present your experiences and achievements on one page.  Two pages are not necessary unless you have considerable experience.  It is important to be brief and concise.

What are Resumes for?

The purpose of writing a resume is to sell your skills and to get an interview. So, before you start, ask yourself these questions: What does the job involve? What skills and experience does the employer want? Which qualities do I need to demonstrate on my CV/resume - and how do I do it?

How to prepare an effective resume?
The first thing that must be kept in mind while writing a resume is career planning which involves knowing yourself, researching the careers options open to you, making choices, making applications (CV’s, cover letters etc.) and gaining experience.
Everybody has their own style of writing, their own style of organizing their thoughts. Before you write, take time to do a self-assessment on paper. Outline your skills and abilities as well as your work experience and extracurricular activities. This will make it easier to prepare a thorough resume. To do this first make a list of your experiences, involvement in activities, etc.  Then write a paragraph about each item on your list.  Describe accomplishments and duties that you performed. Do not worry about using appropriate resume language at this time.  Next, choose the items that you will highlight on your resume.
The next step will be to create the sections of your resume and include the above information accordingly.
What trends a resume must follow: Resume should be of maximum two pages, name contact details on top, consistency in dates, punchy sentences and bullet points, action words, evidence, headings, overall presentation counts
Mistakes that must be avoided: too much text, long paragraphs, spelling and Grammar errors, too many fonts, DOB, marital status, gender, nationality, brief content-give evidence, over exaggeration
Most employers only scan CVs/resumes for 30 seconds before deciding whether to shortlist - whatever layout you decide to use, your key selling points need to really stand out.

Click here to download Sample Resumes

Job Search Skills

Job search is really a tiring and arduous task. The job search tests your self-knowledge, research skills, organization, persistence, and persuasion. Finding the job you want has to be a planned, systematic effort. Your career depends not just on knowing your qualifications, but how well you market them.

It is easy to give control of your job search to others. Remember that they will only be able to point you to jobs that they know about and often those will be positions that have been difficult to fill… the jobs no one else wants. You can decide what you want to do, find the hidden jobs, and actively search for your ideal job.
The successful job search has following steps:
•    Explore your career options and interests
•    The internet
•    Newspapers
•    Publications
•    Recruitment agencies
•    Social networking
•    Contact your sources e.g. family and friends
•    Career fairs
•    Job listing sites

Click here to view a quick guide to job searching skills

Interviewing Skills

Even the smartest and most qualified job seekers need to prepare for job interviews. Interviewing is a learned skill, and there are no second chances to make a great first impression. So here are some tips to enhance your interview skills.

Research
Find out a little bit about the company you want to work for. Visit the location in person if it is a store or building open to the general public. Visit the company’s Website and talk to anyone you might know who works there. Make notes of things you want more information about and ask the employer about them at the end of your interview. Researching a company and the position make you stand out in an interview. It shows that you are really interested in working there.

Practice
Keep practicing. Practicing out loud for your interview will help you sound more polished and concise and less nervous in the actual interview. List a few key things you want the employer to know about you, and review common interview questions. Formulate answers to those questions and answer them out loud while looking at yourself in the mirror. This exercise prevents you from rambling in the interview and sounding unpolished and unsure. It also helps you discover what really does make you the best candidate for the job!

Dress to Make a Good First Impression

In an interview, first impressions do matter. The best way to ensure a good first impression is to dress smart. It is usually best to wear a dark-colored, conservative suit (for both men and women). You should avoid wearing excessive jewelry, perfume, and flamboyant clothes. Good personal hygiene is also important.

Be Conscious of Good Interview Etiquette
Be on time for your interview. Be aware of your body language. When shaking hands, make sure your grip is firm and confident. Have good posture. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer to convey confidence. Keep the interview positive. Avoid making negative remarks about any previous jobs or employers. Also, refrain from complaining about any job-related tasks or responsibilities you were given in a previous position. Employers want to hire someone who is positive, enthusiastic, and able to meet and deal with challenges.

Be Prepared to Ask the Interviewer Questions
Employers want to know if you’re truly interested in the position. They also want to know that you have all the information you need to make a decision, if offered the job. This is your chance to ask additional questions about the business, the position, the requirements, and the expectations of the person who will fill the position.

Follow up with a Thank-You Note
Make sure you let the interviewer know how pleased you were to have the chance to interview with him or her. Immediately after the interview, send the interviewer a thank-you note, thanking him or her for taking time to interview you. This is not only proper etiquette and a common display of appreciation, but it also allows you to reaffirm one or two key points of the interview. It also lets the interviewer know how interested you are in working for the company. Being polite and professional always makes a good impression.

All of this advice comes down to three important things to remember when you're interviewing: being prepared, professional, and polite is the best way to make the right impression!

Click here to download a complete guide to interviewing skills