How to get a new job

When I used to talk to people in depth during a CV consultation, the thing I had to constantly keep reminding them was not to tell their life story in their CV or cover letter. People seems to find it really difficult to be concise and edit (read slash and burn) their career history, but if your info isn’t of the slightest interest to the recruiter, then it shouldn’t be in your CV.  This is how the process of getting a new job works:

The key stages of getting a job:

To call you to interview a recruiter simply wants to see if you can do the job. They don’t have much time (assume they don’t) and they might also have a huge pile of CVs to read – you want to make sure your CV gets put in the ‘call to interview’ pile.

Unless each piece of information earns its place and enhances your application you need to get rid of it.

Of course before you get a job interview your CV has to be read which only happens if your Covering Letter is read first.

So here’s some blunt, no-fluff advice on how to get a job interview by making sure each stage of your application is up to scratch:

The sole purpose of a covering letter

The one purpose of a covering letter is to make the recruiter read your CV.

That’s it.

You just have to say why you’re contacting them (you’re replying to an ad, you’ve been referred, you’re writing to them speculatively etc), mention your situation if applicable and briefly outline the related skills you have that will tempt them into reading your CV. These skills must reflect the job spec outlined in their ad.

The sole purpose of a CV

The only purpose of a CV is to get you called in for an interview. You won’t get a new job based on a CV alone – someone needs to actually talk to you first!

You need to think about who’ll be reading your CV and what they want to know. And then tell them JUST that.

The person initially reading your CV probably won’t even be the person who’ll be interviewing you, but they’ll will most likely decide in around six seconds if you’re in the yes or no pile – so put the good stuff at the top.

Think how you scan through an article in a magazine or online looking for the bits you need because that’s how people read a CV.

Make sure your CV stands out!A Personal Profile should be a concise summary of your CV and a Career Objective is not necessary if you’ve written what that is in the Covering Letter.

Put a Skills Summary on the first page, and add any Key Achievements to the first page as well (but only if you have any really brilliant ones). Now is not the time to be modest!

The CV should ideally be on two pages and you don’t need to add your date of birth, your marital status or your nationality as it’s illegal for anyone to discriminate against you on these subjects.

You don’t want to give them any reason not to consider you so don’t waffle on, ensure you tailor your CV to the position and company and make sure they know how to contact you.

Yay, I got an interview now what do I do?

If your Covering Letter and CV get you an interview then now it’s just down to you – so you’d better be prepared! A recruiter wants to know what you’re good at, how you do your job, what results you get and then they’ll want proof.

They’ll want to know why you want to work for them, what you’ll bring to the position and why they should hire you. If you don’t know the answer to these questions then you won’t get the job. 

The Sales Funnel to you getting a new job is basically five stages:

  1. Your Covering Letter is so good the recruiter bothers to read your CV
  2. Your Personal Profile is so good the recruiter bothers t read down to your Key Skills section
  3. The Skills Section is so good the recruiter bothers to read page two of your CV
  4. The skills and abilities in the rest of your CV match what the recruiter wants and they call you for interview
  5. The interview is amazing because you did your homework and they offer you the job

So cut out anything that doesn’t enhance your application and earn its place, focus on getting each stage right, and do your research because you’ll stand a much chance of getting the job of your dreams. 

I have a step-by-step guide that shows you exactly how to write a fantastic CV here.



Hi Joanne,

I think I am confusing a cover letter with a personal statement. So let me tell you what I know, so that you can tell me if I am getting it right or wrong.

What I do usually when applying for a job is looking at the person specs which may go over 10 or 15 points. I try, actually i do, address each point with real example from my work experience. As I know, this shouldn’t go beyond 2 A4 pages. But frankly, I go up to 4-5 pages, especially if I have 15 points of hard core specs to talk about while reflecting on the job discription. What do you think of this please? This document is called personal statement, at least in the UK.

Then there is the cover letter, which I hardly use as most employers ask for the personal statement.

Yet, a confusing thing for me is what I saw in a job application form i received to fill in for an organisation. they have two sections:

first, General Comments: “Please list experience, achievements, knowledge, personal qualities and skills which you feel are relevant to the job you are applying for and the strength you would bring to this post”.

second section, Personal Statement “Please describe the main reasons for your application and what you believe you can offer our organisation”.

It was a difficult application. What do you think of this please?

Thanks in advance

Joanne Munro

They basically want to know WHAT you’re going to bring to a job and examples of that and WHY you want to work for them & WHY they should hire you. Personally if I was a recruiter I would NEVER read a 4 page letter – who has the time to read that?! You’d probably be one of 100 applicants and asking someone to read 2-4 pages is mad. They just want to see what you do, how you do it, if you understand what the job is about, if you can do it, and why they should hire you. THEN they’ll bring you in for an interview where you can elaborate much more. Asking someone to have the time to read your 2-4 pages is a massive ask and one I’d be amazed that anyone would do.

Sign up for my 4-day free email guide on the sidebar and it’ll tell you in much more detail how to do all the above as well as give you templates and examples. x


Hi Joanne,

I have been unemployed for two years. I recently discovered a wonderful Virtual Assistant Agency and I plan on seeking “work at home” opportunities.

I am creating a new resume and I have found your information to be extremely helpful. I have several years of experience working in customer service.

I have few areas of concern, with the first being the two year gap of employment that will appear on my resume. Is there any way that I can present the fact that I have not worked for two years in a way that will not have a negative impact on me personally?

The second concern that I have has to do with the title that I held at my last job of 15 years. I was the SVP of Customer Relations. I am not sure if I should remove the “SVP” from my title, or if I should leave well enough alone.

Any input that you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I am thanking you in advance for your time.

Joanne Munro

Hi Gina, I have a blog post on what to do about a gap in you career history which you can read here. I think that SVP is a fine job title and places you at a very high level career-wise so I would leave it. It’d be a shame to downplay achievements you’ve worked hard for and you’d be selling yourself a bit short.

I think you’ve already found my website on how to become a Virtual Assistant but it sounds like you’d make a fine VA. I say, you should either look at working for yourself or write a high-level CV aimed at getting yourself a position of which you are qualified for. Most people pitch themselves too low so make sure it outlines the scope of your experience – how many people you managed, if you worked internationally or simultaneously managed multiple sites, if you trained people and how, created best practice etc. Position yourself high. x


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