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Our quick guide to cover letters and CVs

Applying for jobs can mean quite some cover letter writing and CV preparation. While that may seem daunting at first it does not have to be.
Just review this quick guide to get you started on how to write great cover letters and CVs for the Netherlands. The main rules? 1) Triple check to make sure that the documents look consistent in layout and have no spelling mistakes; 2) Tweak and adapt your documents for every application to match the vacancy.

Writing a CV
The terms CV and rsum are used interchangeably in the Netherlands. Reviewing your application starts with your CV, which will only be scanned (in 15 seconds or less). Note that employers do not necessarily care about all you have done, they are interested in what you could do for them. Make a match between your experience and what they are looking for by giving relevant and tailored information they can quickly understand. The rules of the game: CVs should not be longer than two pages. In the correct order, the categories of information for a starter are: personal information, (optional: personal profile or objective) education, working experience, extra-curricular activities/ volunteer work/ project experience, (optional: honours and awards) software skills, language skills, interests. The optional personal profile or objective should capture your character and motivation in just a few lines. Think of it as your personal brand or elevator pitch. It can work as a teaser making people curious for the rest of your CV. Within each category write down the entries in reverse chronological order (starting with what ended most recently). Write all dates on the left hand side of the document. With experience, focus on what you have done (possibly including results) and what your responsibilities were. Each time you send out your application go over your CV. See if you can rephrase or emphasize some experiences to better match the vacancy text and organisation.

Writing a cover letter

The cover letter is also called motivation letter for a reason. They have already seen your experience on your CV, now it is up to you to really explain and emphasize what makes you a great candidate for the job and organisation. The rules of the game: A cover letter is max one page long which leaves about 2/3 of that for your motivation due to the letter head and space where the signature traditionally would have been. Adhere to that max for online applications as well. Often you will end up with three to four paragraphs: 1) opening, 2)-3) motivation for your suitability for the role, 4) interest in the organisation, followed by a nice closure. All with polite use of language; this is a formal document. Opening: clearly state which vacancy you are applying for. Or with an open application, what type of role you see yourself in. Motivation for function: clearly explain what makes you a good candidate for the job. Rather than just saying I have good communication skills highlight a situation where you put those skills to practice. Give brief examples to prove these qualities. Motivation for organisation: do not give the impression you could send the same letter to the competitor by merely changing the organisations name. Motivate what makes this organisation interesting to you. Go beyond the slogan of the company. Do not simply say because you are the largest organisation. Rather say what makes working for the largest organisation interesting to you. While you will develop certain standard phrases after writing a couple of letters, do go over your letter every time and see if you cover the main aspects from the vacancy text in your motivation. Make the match!
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Make a base CV with all your information that you adapt for every application. You can have this CV ready in multiple languages. For more information on applying globally, visit Going Global via Blackboard: Blackboard -> My Student Info -> Student Resources.
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TU Delft Career Centre

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