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How to write your first cover letter and CV in English

Writing your CV in English is a must these days but it can be overwhelming especially if you've never done it before. Whether you have a job application that calls for it or you find yourself living overseas, it’s always wise to be prepared. In this post, I’m going to share a little bit of my experience living in New Zealand and how I went about writing my first cover letter and CV. Plus I will share some resources and tips to help you write your own.

When I lived there back in 2007, we only had Microsoft Word and the school computer lab. A classmate found a template on a local website and gave it to me and, I started from there. Needless to say, that template wasn't as good as the ones you can get now but, it served its purpose. Today you can find beautiful ones on Canva website that will make your CV stand out. So I highly suggest you use this resource.

Another thing you should definitely do is to research vocabulary related to your job or area of expertise. You’re gonna have to do some reading to get the right jargon. Please don’t fall on the Google Translate trap! A lot of times it doesn’t translate accurately and, it can potentially make your CV awkward to read.

Needless to say, typos and mistakes are a big no-no. Make sure to spell check your writing and, if you can get someone to read it for you - preferably a native. This is really important because a native can detect mistakes and awkward language that you wouldn’t be able to. I sent my ones to someone who worked in human resources and, he changed a lot of things I wrote. If you don’t know anyone, you can always pay for a proofread service - you can find very affordable proofreaders on Fiverr. Also, make sure the company name and the person’s name you are sending your application are correct. This type of mistake can be worse than typos.

What should you include in your cover letter?

Don’t underestimate what a good cover letter can do for you. A lot of places wouldn’t even look at your CV if, you don't attach a one to it. Remember, a cover letter is a summary of your CV and should contain the following:

  • Your name and contact details.

  • Their name and their contact details.

  • The name of the job you’re applying for and how you heard about the position.

  • A list of your relevant skills.

  • Ask them to read your resume and contact you.

Here is an example:

At the end of this post, I will leave a list of websites you can get more templates.

What should you include in your CV?

I believe most of us have already written a CV in our native languages, but in any case, I will list basic points you should include in it:

  • Name, professional title and contact details.

  • A personal profile - who you are, what you can offer and career goals.

  • Experience and employment history.

  • Education and qualifications

  • Additional section: keys skills, hobbies and interests.

Most templates have those sections set up already, you just have to write your own information on the corresponding part.

Again, make sure you get the translation right and pay someone to proofread it if you have to. This can be the difference between getting a job interview or your CV ending up in the trash.

For more information on this subject, check out the links I left for you at the end of this post. Hope it helps.

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Canva: CV templates

CV Library: How to write a CV: Tips for 2018 (with examples)

Carreer NZ: CV and cover letter templates

The Balance Careers: Use This Cover Letter Template to Apply for a Job

Fiverr: Resumes & Cover Letters (proof reading services)

Grammarly: online grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection platform