4.4 Produce a clearly structured CV/Resume

Video – Writing your CV
Download 1 – CV Template
Download 2 – Completed sample CV
Covering Letters
Download 3 – Sample covering letter
Download 4 – Sample speculative covering letter


Designing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an important step in looking for any job or training. The CV is often your first contact with a future employer. It needs to seize the reader’s attention immediately and to demonstrate why you should be considered for a post or granted an interview.

Employers generally spend no more than a minute on each CV when selecting candidates, so your CV must be succinct and advertise your best qualities.

Once you have watched the video, download our fact sheet on how to prepare your own CV. We have also provided a blank CV for you to complete yourself, and a completed CV as a guide to assist you.

Click here to download instructions for the CV design

Click here to download the CV template

Click here to download a sample completed CV template (UK)

Click here to download a sample completed CV template (Ireland)

Covering Letters

When possible your CV should always be accompanied by a covering letter. Use it to put your CV in context with the position or organisation, outlining how you relate to its values, ethos and aspirations. While your CV sets out the skills you have for the post, your covering letter more explicitly presents your motivation and adaptability. A covering letter should:

  • • demonstrate to the employer your interest in and knowledge of the company;
  • • highlight particular parts of your CV that are your unique selling points;
  • • give additional information that does not fit easily into a CV;
  • • explain any personal circumstances or anomalies in your application.

A well-written covering letter is essential for speculative applications.


Address your letter to a named person, even if this means you have to phone the company to ask for the name of the person who deals with recruitment. This will ensure that it reaches the right person. It also gives you a contact name for a follow-up call or email.

Think from the employer’s perspective rather than your own. Tell them what you can contribute to the organisation rather than how it can benefit you. Do not send them a standard letter with only the key details changed.

Your covering letter should be no more than one page long and with short and clearly themed paragraphs – aim for no more than four paragraphs as a rule.


Use the following format as a guide for your letter:

  • • Briefly introduce yourself, state the post you are applying for and where you saw it advertised. For a speculative letter, specify the type of work you are looking for.
  • • Explain why you are interested in this type of work and show an understanding of what it is likely to involve.
  • • Explain why you are interested in working for this particular employer. Demonstrate enthusiasm and evidence of research into such aspects as their successes, involvements, values or clients.
  • • Highlight what makes you suitable for this position. Provide evidence of your key strengths by referring to experience listed on your CV. Aim to show that your key strengths reflect their requirements.
  • • Take the opportunity, if necessary, to explain any anomalies in your background, such as employment gaps or ways in which you do not match the selection criteria. Perhaps explain how any issues you have encountered have helped you develop in a positive way.
  • • If the role and organisation are creative, you should reflect this in your writing style. If the organisation is formal, you are more likely to be successful if you write a formal covering letter.
  • • Ensure there are no errors and spelling mistakes and that you have written the addressee’s name correctly.
  • • Respectfully request an interview or an opportunity for an informal discussion.

Take some time now to compose a cover letter for a prospective employer, there are two samples available to download as guides.

Click here to download a sample CV covering letter

Click here to download a sample speculative CV covering letter