Example CVs and cover letters: Out of work

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

The candidate

Karen Aitken has been unemployed for the last year. She has some experience in retail and has also done some volunteering. She’s applying for a sales assistant role within a High Street store.

Have a look at how Karen has tailored her CV and cover letter to the job description below.

The job description

Sales Assistant

About the role

You’ll be working as part of a small team to help deliver excellent customer service in a busy High Street store. The shop sells clothes for women, men and children and you’ll be expected to work across all departments. You’ll work 35 hours a week and will be required to work some evenings and weekends.  

Key responsibilities:

  • Help customers find what they are looking for
  • Help to reach and exceed sales targets
  • Ensure the shop floor is kept clean and tidy
  • Replenish stock as required and keep the stock room organised
  • Serve customers at the cash desk
  • Help to man the changing rooms 

About you

You should have: 

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • A good eye for detail
  • Good organisation skills
  • Excellent time management
  • Confidence and an ability to work well under pressure 
  • A passion for fashion

The cover letter

Karen Aitken

1 The Lane

The Village



Mr Smith


High Street Shop

The Street

The City



Dear Mr Smith

Shop Assistant vacancy

I am writing to apply for the shop assistant vacancy that was advertised in your website. I have also included my CV for your consideration.

I am interested in the position as I love working with members of the public and being able to help them find what they are looking for. I have an interest in all fashion, for men, women and children, and keep up to date with the latest trends in stores. Working for your shop would be a great opportunity for me to put my skills and experience to good use. 

I have good customer service experience, both from working in a busy High Street Shop and from volunteering in a Charity Shop. I have experience in helping customers find what they are looking for as well as operating till systems. I was also awarded Employee of the Month at the Charity Shop for my customer care and time management. 

I have a good eye for detail and in my previous retail roles I have always ensured that both the shop floor and the stock room are kept clean and tidy. 

I love working as part of a team to make sure that customers are happy and that sales targets are met. I have experience of working under pressure and do this well. It was especially important when working during the busy Christmas and New Year period at the High Street Shop. All staff were awarded a small bonus for their efforts during the season. 

I look forward to hearing from you to discuss the role further. 

Yours sincerely

Karen Aitken

The CV

Karen Aitken

1, The Lane, The Village, Scotland

Tel No: 01001 001 000 Email: Karen.aitken@fakeemail.com 

Personal Statement

A hardworking, friendly individual who enjoys being part of a busy retail team. Have a range of experience in retail including sales, customer care and stock room positions. Have also developed strong communication and organisation skills from different volunteering roles. Awarded volunteer of the month for customer care. Keen to learn and flexible with working hours. 


  • 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


Charity Shop                            September 2014 - 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

Charity                                    July 2014 – August 2014

Voluntary charity collector

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

High Street Shop                      October 2013 – January 2014

Sales assistant

  • Worked during the busy Christmas and New Year period
  • Gained 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

Local Shop                               July 2012 – October 2013

Sales assistant

  • Worked every Saturday while at school
  • Helped to put stock out on the shop floor
  • Tidied stock room


The High School, The Village       August 2011 – May 2012

National 4

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


  • Enjoy spending time with friends and keeping up to date with fashion trends. 


  • Awarded volunteer of the month at the Charity Shop for my customer care


Available on request