Example CVs and cover letters: Out of work

This example CV is for someone who's currently unemployed, and is applying for a retail position.

This example CV is for someone who's currently unemployed, and is applying for a retail position.

Who's applying for the job?

Karen Aitken has been unemployed for the last year, due to a contract coming to an end. 

She's worked in retail before, as a sales assistant in Primark, and has also done some volunteering at a charity shop. 

Applying for a sales assistant role within the Next store, she's tailored her application to fit the job description. 


What's the job description?


  • Help customers find what they are looking for
  • Reach and exceed sales targets
  • Work 35 hours a week, over some evenings and weekends
  • Tidy the shop-floor, replenish stock and organise stock-room
  • Serve customers and assist in the changing rooms


You should have: 

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • An eye for detail 
  • Organisation and time management skills
  • Confidence and an ability to work well under pressure 
  • A love of fashion and a strong personal style


It’s important to write a cover letter for any job application you make.

Why? Because by describing a little more about yourself, you’ll be able to convince your employers that you’re the right person for the job.

Open with a friendly greeting, and outline what you’re there to do.



Hope you’re well. I’m writing to apply for the shop assistant vacancy you’re advertising online, as I think I’d have a lot to offer in the role.'


This is the bit where you explain why you’re applying for the job. Why do you think you’d be good at it, and why do you want it?

For Karen, she has a lot of retail experience already and is keen to work in a shop again.

She’s been volunteering during her time out of work, to keep developing her customer service skills. 


‘I’m applying for this job as I love working with and helping people.

With lots of retail experience and a real love of fashion, I think I’d be a perfect fit. Working for Next would give me a great opportunity to put my skills and experience to good use.'

Relevant experience

Outline what the things you've done already that show you’d be right for the job.

Describe previous work experience and duties, listing the skills you developed in these roles.

Keep an eye on the job description they’ve provided, and be sure to mention some of the skills that they're looking for. 


‘Working in a busy high street Primark store and volunteering in a charity shop has helped me develop strong customer service skills.

I’m experienced in serving customers and handling complaints. I am also till-trained.

I was awarded Employee of the Month at the British Heart Foundation, in recognition of my customer care and time management.

I have a good eye for detail and in previous roles, have always kept the shop-floor and stock-room clean and tidy.'


Reinforce what you have to offer and explain again why you think you’d be good at the job.


‘I love working as part of a team, making sure that customers are happy and sales targets are met.

Comfortable working under pressure, I've demonstrated this many times – especially when working the busy Christmas and New Year period in retail. 

I love a challenge, and think I would have a lot to offer in this position. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Aitken’

Your CV

Writing your CV can be difficult. 

Think about the skills you’ve developed through your life, through school, jobs and hobbies. Stuck for how to start?

Ask a friend or family member how they would describe you.

Our three core tools - About Me, Skills and Strengths - will also help you work out what you're good at. They'll also provide you with detailed results, that you can use as a basis for your cover letter and CV. 

Your personal statement

Start your CV with a profile. It's a short description about you and your qualities. 


'A hard-working, friendly individual who enjoys being part of a busy retail team.

I have a range of experience in retail including sales, customer care and stock room positions.

Through volunteering roles, I've developed strong communication and organisation skills. I was awarded 'volunteer of the month' in my current role.

I'm dedicated, enthusiastic and flexible with working hours.'


It’s good to include a list of key skills that you have.

And if there are ones that are mentioned in the job description, then be sure to reference these within your CV.

  • Knowledge of cash handling and till systems
  • Knowledge of stock room procedure
  • Good customer service skills developed from previous retail experience
  • Organisation skills developed from arranging charity shop donations
  • Able to work well under pressure as have experience working in busy environments


British Heart Foundation                           February 2018 - present

Voluntary sales assistant

  • Collect and organise donations for re-sale
  • Record all stock and donations in the computer system
  • Help customers on the shop floor as required

Save the Children                         July 2017 – January 2018

Voluntary charity collector

  • Approached people on street to encourage them to donate to the charity

Primark                 October 2015 – June 2017

Sales assistant

  • Customer service experience, including working on the returns desk
  • Organised and displayed stock and promoted key products
  • Worked in all departments including footwear, ladies and gents fashion

R.S. McColl                July 2013 – October 2015

​​​​​​​Sales assistant

  • Worked every Saturday while at school, part-time hours afterwards
  • Helped to put stock out on the shop floor
  • Served customers and managed till
  • Tidied stock room


Paisley High School      August 2013 – May 2014

​​​​​​​National 4 (SCQF 4)

  • English -  Pass
  • Maths  - Pass
  • Art  - Pass
  • Science -  Pass

Hobbies and interests

It’s good to mention hobbies that you have as this shows some additional skills and your commitment.

Keep these appropriate– it's better to mention sports you might play, or any clubs you've been part of. 


'I enjoy spending time with my friends, going to the cinema and keeping up to date with fashion trends. I also like going to the gym.'


This is someone who the employer can contact for confirmation that you're the right person for this job.

One of these should be your most recent employer. The other could be a teacher, someone you have done volunteer work with or a former colleague.

You should always ask someone’s permission before giving their details.

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