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Applying to a job: writing a great presentation letter and resume

Updated on October 23, 2012

A few years ago I was finishing my university degree and I started to apply to an internship. I faced the difficulty of how to make my Curriculum Vitae (CV) and what to write in my presentation letter.

I tried to imagine what the persons that would receive my contact would like and how could I be noticed among all the CV's that they get.

And then, after I send it, came that stressful time of waiting for some reply, some contact asking for an interview, but most of the times I would get no response... And that really make me a little bit mad.

Now that I have my own company, I try to reply to every CV I receive, and most of the times, because we're a small company, I have to give a negative answer.

But, do to the current economic situation (specially in Portugal), when I post any kind of job ad, I receive more than 500 CV's... Do you have any idea of the time it takes or the costs, to analyse all these curriculums? It's umbearable... So what I do it' to take 10/20 from the pile I have and I work on that... If after that I can't find some potencial candidates, I take a look into another pile of 10/20 cv's.. These means that on all the other CV's there could be much better candidates but I haven't even take a look at them!

So, when we apply to something, we really need to stand out and focus on every detail of our apply process!

First impressions count a lot, and what really shocks me is the lack of attention that people put on their resumes and their presentation letters. Some of them I just discard because they make no sense...

Amazing Cover Letters
Amazing Cover Letters

Points to consider on a presentation letter

First of all, every CV you send should have a presentation letter (or presentation email). It's your first chance to make yourself noticed!

So, investigate a little bit the company that you're applying to, learn what their core business is, what's their position on the market, what other employees think of it (use Linkedin to network), ... This is also a good research for the future interview when you're selected, this way you already have some homework done :)

Then, write why you're applying to that particular job or company, what made you consider it, why you would like to join the company, what you can offer to them, ...

I know that in some cases you just can't find any info on that company, in these cases you should have a general presentation letter, and send that one, where you don't get in so much detail.

400 Cover Letters and CV's for all Industries and Positions
400 Cover Letters and CV's for all Industries and Positions

Get Help Writing a Great Presentation Letter

So, you're ready to start writing your presentation letter and you really want to make an excellent first impression but... the inspiration just doesn't come... And you start getting frustrated...

I know how that feels, and that's why I went looking for professional help in my first few presentation letters! If there's people out there that are dedicated 24/7 doing this, the most effective way posible, why shouldn't I try this, at least once? They usually know the human resources from the big companies, and know what they like to see.

There're several great programs/books outhere, I will just show you two that I worship, so you can choose which one fits you best:

  • Jimmy Sweeney's amazing cover letters;
  • 400 Cover Letters and 400 CV's for all Industries and Positions;

Please leave your comment below telling me which one you liked most and how it helped you!

You can also check on ebay (look at the end of this hub) where there're several people offering their services at excellent prices!

I find lot's of people saying: "I don't have a job, how will I get the money to invest on this products?"... I'm talking about less than 20$ for the book or 30% for the ebay services... It just means you hav to save a dollar a day (yes, 1$ per day) and in one month you'll get the money to invest that could change your entire life!

Bare with me for a second... how much time do you waste on looking at the newspaper classified ads, or to craiglist, or walking on the streets trying to find a job? You spent much more than these 30$, are you're doing it without the right tools to back you up!

Points to consider on a curriculum vitae

If you are on Europe the best thing you can do is use the Europass CV. This way you'll get a CV that most of the employers are use to read, and they can find fast the info they want.

It's very easy to fill in and then you'll get a good CV.

I don't know if outside the EU you have something similar, but I think you can also use this one or at least use it as a reference.

Attention to this, if you are applying for your first job, just leaving University or high school, your CV should never have more than one (1) page, remember this. If you have experience, don't create a CV with more than 2 pages... HR people just don't have time to read all that info... Specially if we're talking about small companies, where usually it's the CEO who does the recruitment process. Do you think he has time to read a 5 pages resume? It would take him 2 to 5 minutes for ONE CV? ONE!!! Imagine if he gets 300 or 500, how long would the recruitment process take?

Too long CV's are also boring and get the opposite reaction you're expecting (this doesn't apply to scientists and similar jobs we're you're supposed to present all your articles, and lots of other stuff).

For some jobs it helps being creative, so check out this amazing cv's examples in my hub Creative Resumes - Making a difference while applying to a job

Most common errors on presentation letters/emails

  • Applying to the wrong job: this really confuses me... if I post an add for a software developer why do I get a CV from a lawyer? Don't just send resumes to everyone, choose well!

  • Not being exclusive: I really don't like to receive an email with a CV and then noticed that the email was sent to 10/20/50 different companies. You can even be well intentioned but the feeling I immediately have is you just didn't care, and collected a few email addresses and then send the same thing to all... For you, working at my company or any other is the same, and that doesn't scores points!

  • Templates: It's normal to get a presentation letter template, but pay really attention to changing a few details, like the name of the company... some people, when applying to several jobs, forget to change the name of the companies between mails and then company "A" receives a letter saying "I'm very interested in working on company B"... Don't let this happen, remember details are very important!

Most common errors on CV's

  • Too much information: don't get in the temptation to write everything about your life, remember, it's a resume... Just write the important information;

  • Dispersing: if you're applying to a computer technician job and you worked in 3 other computer companies, then Macdonald's, kfc, or other things, just present the computer companies jobs.. Keep just the relevant information for the specific job you're applying to, but if you only got experience in companies that don't relate to the jobs in question, then you can present them

And you guys, have you ever received a really bad resume? And what more suggestions do you have to make good ones? Please give me your feedback so I can update this hub :)

I've also wrote a few more hubs to help you on finding your dream job, or any job at all:

If you liked this Hub, please:

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    • lbramos profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis Bivar Ramos 

      7 years ago from Porto, Portugal

      Glad you liked it :) Thank you!

    • camdjohnston12 profile image


      7 years ago

      Glad to visit this hub. Great to learn a lot from here. Thanks for the ideas, Ibramos.

    • lbramos profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis Bivar Ramos 

      7 years ago from Porto, Portugal

      Boas Nosila,

      Obrigado pelo teu comentário, é bom saber que há mais pessoas a falar português por aqui :)

      Desculpa mas não tenho o link original... Ainda andei à procura mas já não encontro... A hub já tem uns tempos e não guardei isso...

      De qualquer maneira espero ter ajudado! Continuo a achar que são das minhas hubs mais actuais e se bem aplicadas podem trazer bons resultados!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Need to do a cover letter for a intership, googled that and found your post, those creative cv's blowed my mind, thank you A LOT for this !

      Btw, ainda mais impressionado fiquei quando reparei que o poster era Português, muito bom saber que cá tambem há gente a ter muito boas iniciativas como estas e principalmente com um inglês muito bom, parabens ;) Já agora, algum link para essas fotos dos creative CV's em hi-res??

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      computer jobs

    • lbramos profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis Bivar Ramos 

      9 years ago from Porto, Portugal

      Thanks heathere, for your comment and ideas!

      Yes, some of it is common sense, but as you said, their simple things that people tend to forget... :)

      These days I've been reading things like "The 7 Habits of higly effective people", "the power of now", etc... lots of it is commons sense, but it's good to review it sometimes and realize that things could be much simpler than we imagine :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub! Some of it common sense but so many job seekers get in a rush while preparing their resume/cv/cover letter that they lose focus on the little details.

      Finding out the hiring manager's name so you can address your cover letter is a big plus and makes the employer feel that they're not one of hundreds.

    • lbramos profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis Bivar Ramos 

      9 years ago from Porto, Portugal

      Thanks a lot for your comment Marisa and for sharing with us your personal experience!

      IT's also good to know that the EuropassCV format works :)

      Regarding your cover letter, you focus on really important things, thanks for your tips!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      9 years ago from Sydney

      I had never come across the Europass CV, and was gobsmacked to find that its layout is exactly the same as the one I've used for the last thirty years, usually with great success.

      I agree a good cover letter is crucial, however I'm not sure I agree about what to say.  Personally, I analyse the job ad and list the qualities and skills they're looking for - then I write a cover letter that addresses each one, in point form, showing that I have exactly those qualities and skills.

      I've rarely had difficulty finding a job.

    • lbramos profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis Bivar Ramos 

      9 years ago from Porto, Portugal

      Thanks Joan for your kind words.

      Hope you have luck on finding a new job. But I think you're already on a good path because you're researching for better ways to apply to a job. And is this the first step to be sucessful!

      Good luck for you and everyone else out there looking for a job!

    • profile image

      Joan Frind 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for your post!

      I've rewrite my resume and now I take extra care in wirting my presentation letters. If this works, I'll be on my prayers!

      Difficult times for everyone so we need to grab every help we can :)

      Thanks again

    • RITZ profile image


      10 years ago from New Delhi

      a very very helpful have answered concerns off all the people who struggle to prepare a attractive resume..


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