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Top CV tips for first job applications and careers in IT

18 May 2016

As part of Ideal Academy, we support young people from our local community by offering them a chance to fast track their careers in an exciting industry. We regularly advertise fantastic opportunities for apprentices, recent school leavers and graduates.

Our entry level roles are very popular and we often receive hundreds of applications for each position. So how do you make sure your application stands out from the crowd? Follow my tips below to increase your chances of getting your dream role at Ideal.

Sell yourself

  • Don't be shy. Your CV and covering letter are the opportunity to sell yourself – so use them wisely - but don't bend the truth, we will find out.
  • If you are particularly proud of something, cover it at the top of your CV, don't hide it on the last page.
  • Don't forget to include all relevant skills and experience. If you haven't worked before, think about other situations in your life when you have applied your skills, such as your academic career, voluntary work, sports, hobbies or personal life.
  • List your academic achievements and work experience in reverse chronological order and briefly summarise the reason for any gaps on your CV that are longer than 2 months. Always include marks from your most recent academic qualification (degree, A levels, GCSEs etc). Keeping quiet means we may assume the worst.
  • Don't paste the entire job description from your previous role into your CV. Instead, focus on your achievements and be specific. For instance, instead of writing "Delivering presentations at school", you can say "Successfully delivered a Power Point presentation on the role of women in medieval England to an audience of 20 people".
  • Whenever possible, back up your achievements with numbers. For instance, instead of saying "As a Sales Assistant, I sold ladies clothes to customers", you can say "Consistently exceeded personal sales targets of £15,000 per month". Similarly, instead of saying "Good at typing" you can say "Typing speed 76 words per minute".
  • Tailor your CV. Never apply for multiple roles using the same covering letter. Instead, write a bespoke covering letter for the role you are applying for, focusing on what makes you a great candidate for that particular opportunity.
  • In your covering letter, be professional, but let your personality shine. We want to know what you are like as a person.

Take care over presentation

  • Avoid using unusual fonts, exclamation marks!, emoticons :-), colours and informal language. In the main body of your CV, stick to the standard font size (9, 10 or 11) and standard font type (Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri etc).
  • Use spell check religiously. Better still, ask a friend or a family member to check your CV and covering letter for errors.
  • Split all the key information into separate, clearly defined sections. Stick to the standard headings, such as Personal Statement, Education, Work Experience, Key Skills, Professional Courses, Hobbies and Interests or References.
  • Be brief and concise and avoid repetitions. For entry level roles, CV should be no longer than 2 pages. Don't crowd your CV. Using proper breaks between sections of your CV makes the structure clearer and easier to follow.

Do your homework

  • Before sending your application, familiarise yourself with our website, to understand our business, our culture and our mission.
  • Read the job description to make sure you understand the role you are applying for really well and that you meet the key requirements. Do your research and use your covering letter to prove it.
  • Before sending your CV out, print it off. Pay attention to margins, page breaks, formatting and make sure that indents and paragraphs are even.

To check out our current vacancies, take a look at our Join The Team page. Good luck with your application.

Header image: by Flickr user Flazingo Photos via CC Licence