Avoiding common mistakes when applying for Summer Internships

iStock_000008496501Medium Job wanted! As part of my role with the Summer Internships team I provide support to students with their CVs  and Covering Letters  for a number of summer internship applications from CareersLink.

I thought I would share with you some tips and advice to avoid making some of the most common mistakes that I noticed made with last year’s applications, so that I hope will help you if you are applying for an internship this year:

Tailoring your CV and Covering Letter

By far the top mistake made last year was not enough attention given to tailoring a CV and Covering Letter to the role you are applying to. It is essential to show clearly your skills and experience relevant to the role and making it easy for the employer to spot throughout your application. Just to clear up any misunderstanding, do not send off a ‘general’ CV or Covering Letter, this shows lack of attention to details, effort to meet the requirements of the employer and enthusiasm to work for them.

  • Keep text concise with use of succinct bullet points/sentences
  • Be specific in describing the skills you gained, within the context of the tasks/ experience you achieved. A block of text puts off the reader and appears unfocused.
  • Are the most important details at the beginning or the end of the sentence?
  • Don’t just make statements of skills you have, but it is vital to explain how and where you have developed skills.
  • Explaining how and where will still need to be brief in your CV, but you can then expand in more detail with examples most relevant to the role to highlight key points
  • Make sure the examples you mention in your Covering Letter are still in your CV and vice versa. Be consistent.
  • Don’t just assume the employer can read into what you did. You must be clear and spell this out. Make it easy for them to spot.
  • Always check back at the vacancy details to see if you have covered all  the skills the employer requires.
  • Give attention to detail and think of where you have the skills/ experience throughout all of your CV  including:
  1. paid/ unpaid work
  2. education/training courses and your degree
  3. student societies, hobbies, interests and commitments
  4. awards and achievements.
  • Use the  words that the job description or vacancy advert uses to describe skills for the role and make it easy for the employer to navigate through your CV and covering letter to find what they want.

Other tips to remember in avoiding making mistakes made from last summer’s applications:

  • Include a Covering Letter that is also targeted for the job along with your CV and attach to an email with your CV
  • In covering letters, be clear and specific in your first paragraph about why you are applying
  • Make your CV/ Covering letter easy to read through with a consistent and clear layout and format. See our Covering letter and CV guides for examples.
  • Give attention to detail in correcting errors to your spelling, grammar, as well as proof reading your CV/ covering Letter
  • Be careful how you use a Personal Profile in being short punchy and targeted to the point, otherwise don’t use it. See advice in the Writing a CV from Scratch guide.
  • Use bullet points that are succinct to describe points on your CV. Avoid mini paragraphs (2-3 lines) but also don’t leave it so short that you have no context of ‘where’ or ‘how’
  • No need to use the words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ , instead make you name stand out at the top of your CV
  • No need to include your photo, date of birth, nationality, gender, or National Insurance number on a standard UK CV.
  • On chronological CVs: include your most recent education first with the name of the organisation, qualification/ grade and date. Include in date order backwards. Make the dates clear on one side or the other so it’s easy to read down the page.
  • Be careful with use of language/ phrases:  Be positive, address the reader and sign off the covering letter correctly.
  • End your covering letter being polite and enthusiastic, but without stating an assumption  of getting an interview.
  • Be more concise with your Hobbies and Interests section on your CV, but still tailor with appropriate skills for the role
  • Include 2 referees details at the end of your CV if there is room, otherwise state ‘references are available upon request’

It is really recommended to read the Writing a CV from Scratch and Writing a Covering Letter from Scratch guides available to pick up in the Careers Resource Centre and in our Starting Point guides online. Also look on our website about help with finding work.

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