How to land an interview – writing a great curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter

When applying for a position, your CV and cover letter are very important in landing you an interview.


The purpose of a CV is to provide a brief account of your experience, qualifications and skills. A good CV should be written succinctly, have a simple, readable format and usually be no more than 2-3 pages (this will depend on your experience). It usually contains the following:

  1. Your contact details. Be sure to include a daytime contact phone number.
  2. Personal/career summary. Provide a brief and succinct profile of yourself and your career goals. This demonstrates to the employer who you are and what position you are looking for.
  3. Employment history. This is where you outline your previous roles and responsibilities, including any notable achievements.
  4. Education and qualifications. It is recommended that you note the qualification, institution and date obtained. You may also like to include grades if they are strong.
  5. Skills. Note your particular skills which are relevant to the position which you are applying for. You can assess the suitability of your skills by reviewing the position description, which can be found on the job advertisement.
  6. Referees. Two referees which you have had a managerial/supervisory relationship with.

When noting your employment history and education/qualifications, the recommended layout is in reverse date order, beginning with the most recent. This ensures a succinct format which is easy to follow and understand.

Cover letter

Your cover letter is the first document your prospective employer will read, so it is important that it grabs the reader’s attention. A well-written cover letter entices the reader to pay closer attention to your resume and hopefully offer you an interview. Its purpose is to concisely demonstrate how your experience, qualifications and skills will suit the position which you are applying for. It usually follows a similar format as per below:

  • Your contact details. Include your full name, postal address and the date.
  • The organisation’s contact details. Include the organisation’s name, address (if applicable) and the date. If a contact person is provided, you may like to address them.
  • Purpose of the letter. Begin the letter with stating the position which you are applying for.
  • Explain why you are interested in the position and how it fits with your career goals.
  • Demonstrate how your particular skills and qualifications are relevant to the position. Be specific and use examples if appropriate, ensuring you have the position description in mind. The aim of this section is to demonstrate your suitability for the role.
  • Refer to your resume and any other attachments.

Important tip: Don’t forget to proofread! There should be no spelling or grammatical mistakes in your CV or cover letter. When proofreading, a second set of eyes is always helpful, so ask a friend or family member to look over it.