THE DOS AND DON’TS OF CVS AND COVER LETTERS

After working in recruitment and screening hundreds of CVs, cover letters and portfolios at work, I have picked up a few best practices for CVs that I thought I’d share with you all. Make sure to share too!

[Feature image from Unsplash]

The Dos and Don’ts of CVs and Cover Letters!

DO use headings and sub-headings to make your CV clear. Remember, recruiters often glance over your CV quickly, especially with roles they have recieved a lot of applications for. DON’T make it unclear what, when and where your previous experience was. Dates and locations need to be easily identifiable.

DO briefly outline who you are in your cover letter/CV’s opening paragraph. DON’T write paragraphs and paragraphs about how great you are! Your experience and education should speak for you.

DO outline your education/qualifications, particularly if they are relevant to the role you are going for. DON’T break down every single GCSE and A-Level you got, especially if they aren’t relevant to the job or were achieved a long time ago. If you got a D, E, F or U in any subject,  DON’T include it. I would say when talking about any educational qualification before an undergraduate degree, summarise: ‘9A*-C GCSEs including Maths and English, ABB In A-Level subjects Maths, Chemistry and Physics’

DO have your CV ready to attach to jobs you are applying for. DON’T attach a cover letter when applying for a role by email. You can just copy and paste it into the body of the email.

DO concisely talk about your relevant past roles and work experiences, always starting with the most recent or split your experience into ‘relevant experience’ and ‘other experience’. DON’T outline every job you have ever had, especially if it isn’t relevant for the job you are going for, at all impressive or was a million years ago!

DO get someone to look over and check your CV for mistakes. DON’T leave your tutor’s comments/notes on your CV. That is a straight delete.

DO have a nice, smiley, appropriate image on your LinkedIn profile, which you can have a (hyper)link to on your CV (post on LinkedIn dos and don’ts coming soon!). DON’T add your photo to your CV if you are applying for a job in the UK. It’s cringe.

DO use the space on the page well in your CV. This way you can have all the key information you would like the recruiter to know without over/under doing it. DON’T have more than 2 pages for a CV, unless it is a specific technical CV. If you can make it one page without loosing good details do so, but if not, two nice full pages is the way to go.

DO put dates (at least the month and year) to your education and experience. Recruiters want to know how long you were in role for and when. This is especially crucial in early careers where you may or may not qualify for certain roles, internships and placements depending on when you started university or when you graduated. DON’T put your age or date of birth on your CV. Ageism is REAL in the workplace.

DO read the job description, and read it well! DON’T apply for the job when you know you are not suitable for the role. DON’T annoy the recruiter. Three is good number of similar roles within one organisation to apply for. Any more than that – BYE!

DO try and explain any technical/specialist terms on your CV and cover letter as simply as possible. DON’T deliberately try and use fancy terms that confuse the recruiter.

DO save your CV’s file name as your first and last name. DON’T save the document as ‘My CV’, ‘Doc 2’ or ‘fhhjbasbdsbj’. Not helpful.

DO save your CV in pdf form as well as as a word document, especially if it is a creative/art and design CV. This keeps the formatting the way you intended it whereas the format of word docs depends on which year of Microsoft the recruiter has. DO have a visually attractive CV, especially if you are applying for a creative role. DON’T save your CV on any other program other than Word (or as a pdf) such as Adobe InDesign or Sketch as the recruiter may not have these programs and will not be able to open your CV. And you won’t get the job!

 

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any points to add and make sure to share with your job-hunting friends!

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

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Motivating While Unmotivated – Guest Blogger: Leonie Mills

If you have ever been in this position, you’ll know how hard it is.

Being in a position of leadership or being responsible for other people is never easy. But what happens when the success or failure of something rests and you and your vim is in the minus region. When procrastination affects other people it can be a lot of pressure.

It has basically taken me 5 months to write this because I was struggling with this. But if I wrote it during, it would have been a page of me airing my complaints and struggles with no conclusion. Sometimes hindsight and reflection is needed in order to write something to completion.

Let me set the scene.

I over stretched myself in final year, took on too many responsibilities, too many projects, just too many things. I basically used all my energy in first semester, I was finished by December. Imagine running 1000m with hurdles and 50kg on your back, then when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it starts to rain, just for effect. Life is a marathon, not a sprint and I sprinted 100m out of a 1000m race and collapsed at the 400m mark.

When morale across the whole team is down, things are starting to slack and the tasks are piling on. How does one push through and get the job done?

Motivation is temporary

Nobody is motivated all the time, if someone says they are, they are lying…

Accepting that motivation can come and go is necessary. It is not every day we will wake up rearing to go. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves why we are doing something, what the end goal is. It is not everything that we are doing that we are passionate about, maybe it is a means to an end. Nonetheless you have to get through it. Focusing on the end goal can give you that extra push you need.

Me after 4 days of doing no work when I have a deadline the next week: I just have to ask myself ‘Do you want to graduate?’

DIY < Outsourcing 

When my mum asks me to look for something and I can’t find it she says, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself’.

I applied this same logic to everything I do and it is not the way forward. I am in a group/team, yet I will do most things because ‘no one can execute what I have in mind’ – false. Learning how to delegate and share responsibilities is key as it allows people to rise to the occasion. Sometimes I think no one can do what I do, but I have just never given anyone the chance to prove themselves. We all need a break to recuperate, so if you can shift a few responsibilities that are weighing you down, do so.

There is a chance that you will ask someone to do something and they won’t do it to the standard that you want and you will have to fix their mess and it may cause more stress, but that’s a chance you have to be willing to take. Let’s just be honest, let’s just be real.

Force it

You have to pray, plan then preserve.

Self-care is very important and taking the time to rest and relax will have you working at your most productive. However, sometimes we do not have that luxury, there are time constraints and deadlines in place that you just have to force it and rest later. I only say this for short periods of time. This is not a tip for life, you will die early. Like, if you have a busy weekend, but you know you can rest on Monday or even a busy week but you can chill on Sunday. Do not be forcing it for a whole month, your health is important.

Be carried

The major key.

Matthew 11:28-30: Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 40:31: But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

You should rely on God all of the time but the times when the road ahead is looking like a MYTH, you have to remind yourself that Jesus is there to carry you. I look back at what I have been able to overcome and achieve and I know it is only God. In my own strength I probably would have just neglected all responsibilities after December (I came to uni for a degree not ‘everything else’ soooo…) There is a divine intervention of strength at certain points that you can only attribute to God. Try and do things in your own strength and you may achieve an okay result, but with God it would have been amazing.


Being a leader is not easy and sometimes we really do put on a mask for the ‘greater good’ of the people we lead. There is a difference between putting aside your troubles in order for it not to affect the people we lead and constantly not dealing with problems while leading.

To conclude, rest but do not give up and rely on God for wisdom and strength to push through.

– Leonie Mills, Editor of thoughtsofalionessblog.wordpress.com and Founder of debonoire.com.

 

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

So this is what freedom tastes like?? I like it.

Guys, I think I manage to forget how stressful exams are every single time. Like, stress. But as I write this post, I AM EXAM FREEEEE – until the next exam period but let’s not let that ruin this moment;)

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All photography in this shoot is by my friend, Layomi

If you’re close to me, you’ll know how tiring this exam period has been for me but also you’ll know how blessed I have been feeling too. It’s kind of confusing lool but this stressful period is also the time I searched and found myself and God the most! I think I, every so slightly, enjoy stress (judge me, I’m judging myself too tbh). You know what they say though, stress creates diamonds (AND IF THE SHOE FITSSSS, WEAR IT!)

On my wall, in my room in my house at Uni, I have a pyramid of post-it notes on my wall with goals I have set for myself. They’re a mixture of long term and short term things like make my parents proud, be on TV/ have my own show and  finish reading my Bible. Having them visually on my wall has been SO motivating for me.

I can be temperate (or so I’ve been told), meaning my feelings and action fluctuate A LOT. I go from super confident to doubting every single thing I have ever believed. I used to have lots of pictures of my family and friends on my wall. Some where along the line they were taken down and replaced with an exam timetable. My wall is basically a visual representation of my mind at a time. Well… through all of that, unpredictable moods and feelings and thoughts, God and that pyramid of post it notes have been my only constants. 

I feel so so so relieved now because I feel like the next stage of my life is now beginning. Yes dramatic, but then again, what else do you expect from me. I feel like it’s new year all over again, never mind that January is coming to an end looool.

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Guys, 2017 is going to be a fun one of learning and growing for me. Let’s learn and grow together!!

Sidenote: literally loving this hat. Found it in my closet after doing a clear out and reshuffle of my room (another visual representation of my mind lol) even though I’ve had it for years. From Topshop, in case you wondered!

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Peace & Love.

Ya girl, Paula Melissa xx

Jehovah Jireh, My Provider

Guys, this is a really real, really raw post, because right now, in this very moment, I am feeling some really real, really raw feelings.

It is days like this, moments like these that I begin to understand why they call God Jehovah Jireh! He is a provider. When you need something, He will supply it for You.

Coming to University was a new experience for me. It was my first real taste of actual independence. I am an adult. I am in charge of what I do, where I go, what I eat and perhaps most importantly where I spend my money.

This summer before uni, I got a job and worked really hard with the intention of saving money. However, as soon the money touched my bank account, it seemed to instantly evaporate literally into thin air. I suddenly had all these expenses and I watched as my hard-earned money disappeared.

You do not realise the value of money until you work for it yourself. You start to question all your purchases, like “This dress is worth 2 hours of work. Is it really worth it?”

I then got to the stage, nearly a month into uni, when I realised that food is expensive. So are textbooks. So are clothes and washing and printing and buses. Everything costs money and I was running low on the stuff.

So I did what any reasonable person would do. I called my parents. I expected a swift transfer of money into my account, instead I was met with “Trust in the Lord, Paula. Don’t worry.”

Okay. My parents  quoting Bible scriptures is a normal occurrence for me and usually it is quite comforting, but not this time. Like, obviously I trust in the Lord but can you just transfer some money to me please???? [They did eventually send me some money. Eventually!]

But reluctantly I did. I trusted in God and left the fact that I had no money in His hands and did not allow it to ruin my day.

I call Him Jehovah Jireh because He provides in ways that are beyond our imagination. He provides through means that we are not even aware of.

If you take Him as your Jehovah Jireh, He will show up strong. Just call out to him, leave it in His hands and trust in Him.

 

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

University, here I come

I have been making myself seem busier than I actually am in order to ignore the fact that I am going to university in 4 days and 3 nights.

But I can’t ignore it – on Sunday the 20th of September, I will be leaving my family home and going to university.

Do you want the truth? (This is the part where you expect me to pour out my emotions and express how nervous and anxious I am feeling about basically starting a new life – a new independent life – on the other side of the country.) The truth is, I am just not that nervous.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep and I kept subconsciously telling myself ‘it’s the nerves’ and rightly so. But truthfully, I am not that scared. There is obviously some excitement there, but other than the bare minimum, I just want to go and start my new life.

Here’s why: Every year of my life, every birthday, every new school academic year, every new job, I always try and reinvent myself and be the Paula I have always wanted to be. Halfway through that year, I realise that I haven’t changed that much.  It took many years for me to accept the Paula I am, and that is when I became a grown up (still questionable). I am excited for uni because this is the place where the real Paula will be unleashed (questionable verb choice, yes I know. It conveys imagery of unleashing a deadly virus which I promise was not deliberate). At uni, I won’t know anyone so I won’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations of who Paula is. I won’t even have to live up to my own.

The only expectations I will live up to is what God has made me to be, because I’m still in the process of figuring that out. University is the perfect setting to discover who you truly are, without the input of others.

So, if you are nervous about university – whether you are staying at home, moving across the country or even going to another country – just remember that this is your opportunity to find out who your really are. It is the time and place to discover what you are passionate about and what special, fantastic thing you bring to the world.

Be excited and prepared and excited (yes, I said excited twice). Make lots of new friends, have lots of fun (responsibly) and learn lots of new things.

Here’s to the first year of the rest of our lives!

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

A LEVEL RESULTS DAY 2015 – ROYAL TELEVISION SOCIETY BURSARY

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I am going to university!

I achieved and acceded the grades I needed to get into my dream university (which shall remain anonymous for security reasons and whatnot). I am so happy today, because it feels like my life is falling into place. And rightly so. Anyone who knows me, knows I work hard – extremely hard – for every single thing I have in life. In that way, I am entitled to feel a sense of pride in myself, but mainly in God. Thank You, God for giving me the strength to go to the library to study every day from 9am til 8pm. Thank you for giving me the focus to study instead of going out all of the time. All of the short term sacrifices have been worth it in the long term.

My A Level grades were AAB. Now to some people, that is amazing. To others, that is nothing. It doesn’t matter what they are to others however, because they are fantastic to me.

Another reason why I believe that today is one of the best days of my life is that, because I have been accepted by my university, I have received a bursary package from the Royal Television Society (RTS).  The RTS are an educational charity that work primarily in television, broadcast journalism and television production. To find out more about them, click here. They are a big deal because they know all of the important people in the industry. Being a part of them will give me unbelievable opportunities to network with the who’s who of the business, allowing me to potentially get a job in broadcast journalism when I graduate.

This opportunity is only awarded to twenty people in the UK, every year. Only twenty people. And I am one of them. The fact that I am one of the twenty continues to blow my mind. This very blog (along with other of my projects) was hailed as one key influencer in me getting long listed, short listed then the actual bursary. So, I must thank you, as the readers, for motivating me to continue to write.

Today is a good day for me. Today might have felt like a unpleasant day for some, especially if things did not go to plan. But please remember nothing is really the end of the world (expect the actual end of the world). I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. Just because your life is going in a direction that was not initially planned, does not mean that your life will not be great. I know this sounds cheesy coming from me, someone who got exactly what they wanted from today, but I know what I am saying directly from experience. Life can be so disappointing sometimes, then you realise that the disappointment was a blessing in disguise. You wouldn’t be the person you are without those disappointments and ‘failures’. Enjoy every season in life that you find yourself, and learn everything  you can from it.

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

(Undergraduate Journalism Studies student)

Why does everyone blame the media? Twitter rant

Nowadays, the media never get cut some slack. Everyone takes the liberty of bashing it, repeating the many wrong components of the media. What annoys me about this is that, the media report and promote essentially what people care about and what people want to know about. Sadly, this is generally bad news. I am not saying this is a good thing, because obviously it is not, but how can we blame the media for the negative things that happen in the world when the media is virtually constructed by us?

I have always made it know that I plan to pursue a career in the media as a journalist. I say this with pride because I think that a job where you are paid to write about life and the world is amazing. The media conveys information and communicates it to people. Obviously, there are people at the top of media institutions who are pulling the strings to personally benefit their selves, but overall, we construct the media. It aims to write stories that people want to read. It aims to film reports people want to watch. It aims to broadcast information that people want to hear. I do not believe that the whole institution of the media should be prosecuted for the bad things you see on your telly, especially when you’re the one who wants to hear about it.

I think our society needs to prioritise good news just as much as we do the bad. Of course, it is important to know about murders and terrorists attacks and things like that, but what about young people in business? What about women who are on the verge of changing the world? What about developing nations who are making amazing advances every single day. If we cared more about those things, and less about the negative of this world. If we cared less about global politics and religious wars and every country thinking they what is best, the media would be a lot more respected for it’s work.

And it should be respected. The media takes us to places we would never be able to reach, without even needing to leave our bedrooms. It makes us aware of the struggles people face, but at the same time, it should make aware the victories people make. If we praised the good the media does, we would get more people going into the media and communications professions with ethics and values, with the intention of bettering the world. And less going into the sector to make money from people’s misery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just my thoughts! I was on fire briefly, but I have cooled down now lol.

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa xx

How to become a Journalist

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I want to be a journalist. I’ve wanted to be a journalist for quite a long while. My desire to be a journalist gave birth to this blog three years ago. My next step in this journalism journey is going to university to study it, later this year. Wooooo!

Over the past couple years, I have been advised and I have researched intensively how to improve myself to ensure I am ready to become a journalist.  I am by no means an expert in this field yet obviously, but I have a few tips that hopefully will steer you to the right direction, especially if you want to be a presenter, journalist, reporter or writer.

  1. First of all, you need to love reading and writing. As obvious as this sounds, you would be surprised how many people want a career in Journalism, but groan when asked about books or panic when asked to write a short story. Mate, you need to love reading and writing.
  2. Secondly, you need work experience or work placements. This needs to be done as soon as humanly possible. Seriously, start now. It doesn’t even matter if you haven’t finished high school yet – get work experience. Now, I mean no disrespect when I say this but when I say work experience, I am not referring to working in a primary school or a retail outlet. What I mean is in the media industry – intern in your local newspaper, magazine or radio station. Or all three. Anything and everything is valuable experience. Here are a few good sites to begin your search for placements, work experience, internships and apprenticeships: https://gothinkbig.co.uk/, http://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/, http://www.bauermedia.co.uk/ and https://www.gov.uk/browse/working/finding-job.
  3. Thirdly, get yourself online. Nowadays, everything is online and we (as young journalists) need to use this to our advantage. All these media outlets and institutions are now increasingly using social media and online services. The online world is constantly expanding and evolving, rapidly – do not allow it to leave you behind! You (as a young journalist) need a twitter account. It is necessary to find out about news and opinions on news stories, literally as they are happening all over the globe. Keeping up with current affairs is everything (forget Keeping Up with the Kardashians) in this profession. Make sure you follow broadsheet and tabloid newspapers, radio shows and media cooperation (follow me while you’re at it: PaulaPaceSetter;) such as; The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Independent, Sky News, BBC News, Radio 1 etc. You cannot be a journalist if you aren’t interested in the world around you. You cannot live in a social bubble.
  4. Start researching universities from now. This one may be a little early or a little late depending on how old you are, but generally this is an important step in the whole journey. Find a course that balances all media platforms, especially online journalism which is an emerging mode. Also, make sure you find a course that is taught by established and practising journalists – that way they aren’t teaching out of date content.
  5. This one closely follows the previous step but is SO important it deserves it’s own number. Only go for universities that are NCTJ accredited. The National Council for the Training of Journalists has been training journalists since 1951. This course is the industry benchmark that ALL editors value and expect from their journalists. Make sure you go to a uni that offers this qualification alongside your BA or MA in Journalism because trust me when I say, it will be much harder to get a job with just a regular journalism degree. Do not waste three or four years of your life on something that doesn’t open doors to your dream job.
  6. Ensure that you can spell and write in good grammar. This seems really silly and small but honestly this is super super important. I recently completed (and passed) a 2-hour Journalism admission test at a university and honestly, I almost fell at the hurdle of the spelling and grammar part. It made me realise how much work I need to do on spelling. I cannot rely on spellcheck forever.
  7. At any stage in the Education system when you are deciding what subjects to do, ensure you pick essay based subjects. You need to learn how to cohesively structure writing in and interesting but functional way. Here is a list of subjects I suggest from; English Language, English Literature, English Language and Literature, Sociology, Psychology, Media Studies, History, Geography, Law, Government and Politics, Philosophy and any modern foreign language.
  8. Lastly, practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Find a story in your local area, get interviews and write an article. Just write. Then ask someone to read it and get feedback. then build on that feedback and build up a portfolio of your work. This blog is kind of my version of that.

 

I hope this tips are some what helpful. If they are, I’m glad.

Peace&Love.

Paula Melissa x