Example CVs and cover letters: Underemployed graduate

This example CV and cover letter is for a graduate who's been working in a different field from their degree subject, and is trying to break in to their chosen industry.

Who's applying for the job?

Cameron recently graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a degree in Journalism, Media and Communication.

Now he’s ready to start looking for full-time employment.

There’s a broadcast journalist job that he’s got his eye on, but he’s worried that his lack of relevant work experience will put him at a disadvantage.

His university has a careers service that lets him speak to a careers adviser (even after graduating). He made an appointment to get some advice about what to put in his CV.

What's the job description?

You must:

  • Have a journalism qualification and experience of live broadcasting
  • Be able to create original news content for specific audiences
  • Comply to legal and broadcast regulations
  • Be able to use various multimedia tools to write and edit local online news stories
  • Have a good understanding of the region you will be working in and be aware of some of the issues facing that specific region

Qualities and skills you’ll need:

  • Be able to use recording equipment and editing software
  • Excellent written and communication skills
  • An interest in people, news and current affairs
  • Confidence and be able to work well under pressure
  • Good creative problem-solving skills
  • Be proactive and self-motivated

Introduction

Your cover letter is the first impression an employer will get from you. Make it count.

Introduce yourself, include some of your skills and briefly explain why you’re an ideal fit for the job.

e.g.

‘Good morning/afternoon,

 I’ve recently graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a 2:1 in Journalism, Media and Communication. I am looking for a job that will allow me to use the skills I’ve learned and let me develop these further.'

Motivation

Look at the qualities and skills they’ve mentioned in the job description. What examples can you use to prove you have those?

It’s also good to explain why you want the job. Be enthusiastic.

For this job role, they need someone who is confident, pro-active and self-motivated.

e.g.

‘I’m always looking for a new task to get involved in. I set up a personal vlog last year, to give myself a project I can constantly work on. Working on this has given me the motivation me to kick start my professional career as a broadcast journalist.

As soon as I saw the advert for this job, I knew I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity.’

Relevant experience

Don’t worry if you don’t have any directly relevant work experience. Think about other experiences you can include.

Do you take part in any clubs or classes that show you’re good at working in a team? Or a hobby that showcases your creative flair?

You can also include any work experience or other jobs you’ve had that helped you gain transferable skills.

e.g.

‘I’ve learned most of my journalistic skills from university, where I helped run the campus radio shows a few days a week.

 I also got the chance to work for a well-known local magazine, where I wrote articles about the interviews I’d had with various musicians. This gave me a chance to work on my writing skills and how to write for specific audiences.

Alongside studying and updating my vlog, I worked part-time in a local bar. This improved my customer service skills and how to work in a fast-paced environment.’

Conclusion

You need to find the right tone when you sign off your cover letter.

Don’t be too casual or too formal. And try to put some personality into it.

e.g.

‘My natural ability to engage with others, my genuine interest in local current affairs and my pro-active attitude are why I know I’d be well-suited to this job. If given the opportunity, I know I can prove that I’m able to excel within this role.

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours sincerely,

Cameron McAvoy

Starting your CV

Now you’re ready to expand on some of the points you touched on in your cover letter.

The best way to start is by including a short description of the kind of person you are and the experience you’ve got that they’ll want to know.

‘I’m an ambitious person with a creative mind, and I thrive in social situations.

I recently graduated from the University of Strathclyde, where I studied Journalism, Media and Communication.

I also have a personal vlog that I update on a weekly basis, where I often interview local recognised figures to talk about issues that affect the community.’

You can also use our three core tools (About Me, Strengths and Skills) to help you understand yourself, your strengths and skills.

They'll give you detailed results, that you can use as a base to help write your CV. You'll find them in your My World of Work account

List your relevant experience

The Skinny, various roles – September 17 – March 18

In my final year of University, I was on placement working at The Skinny magazine one day a week. During my time there, I took on various tasks and roles including:

  • Generating ideas for stories
  • Writing, editing and proofreading content
  • Conducting interviews
  • Complying with industry and ethical guidelines
  • Researching information for articles
  • Attending relevant events and conferences

Strathclyde Fusion Radio, October 16 – Nov 17

I was a presenter on the University radio station for over a year, where I put my knowledge of broadcasting into practice.

Some of the tasks included:

  • Plan and rehearse shows
  • Write and memorise scripts
  • Work effectively with production crew and co-hosts
  • Improvising some content
  • Interview guests by telephone or on location
  • Read daily news bulletins
  • Keep programme running to schedule

Bar One, August 16 – June 18

Alongside studying, I also worked evenings in a local bar where I learned various transferable skills:

  •  Excellent customer service and building rapport

  • Working in fast-paced environment

  • Working under pressure within a team

  •  Creating a consistent high standard of work

  • Time management and prioritisation

  •  Learning how to be resilient in difficult situations

And remember...

It's OK if you haven't got relevant work experience to the job you’re applying for.

If you don't have any work experience, just make sure you include all the transferable skills you've gained from any jobs or studies.

You can explore any personal achievements, hobbies or interests you have. Think about the skills you’ve learned from these and highlight them.

If you need extra help, our careers advisers are on-hand to give one-to-one support.

Check with your university or college for an on-campus careers service or look for your local centre.

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