A company asked, “When applying for a position please describe in your cover letter why you think you qualify for the job.” Please tell me what to write as I am concerned that I could get this wrong and it would affect my chances of being called for an interview.

You are right to be concerned about how to answer this question because it will be the first impression the company forms about you. A wrong answer, lacking relevant details, could eliminate you from being considered. However, a well-thought-through answer could result in you being shortlisted for the job. Your response might be, “After reviewing the job description I believe that I qualify because I meet the following requirements.” You would then list all the job requirements where your skills and experience match or are similar and briefly outline the matching experience for each requirement. But don’t be discouraged about applying for a job if you don’t meet all the requirements in the advertisement or job description. Sometimes advertisements or job descriptions are so comprehensive that no one can possibly meet all the requirements. Generally, in today’s market if you match 70 per cent of the requirements you should proceed with your application.

How to write a CV employers will read?

Many people must think that HR managers or recruitment consultants are short-sighted. When they prepare their CV, they put their name in bold print with large fonts. Some even put coloured borders and fancy trimmings. Recruiters are not impressed by your creative art. A common mistake is to launch straight into your career history; this is a total waste of your front page. Another common mistake is to use small print to cram into the CV as much information as possible – just in case some of it is important. It is important to format your CV in a way that will quickly catch the attention of the potential employer. Decide what you are (manager, teacher, IT specialist) and put that information at the top of your CV as a “profile” immediately after listing your personal details. The profile should be stated in one or two short sentences. The next section of your CV should list your achievements. It is important to promote your achievements. Your CV is undoubtedly your best chance to get an employer to invite you for an interview. Don’t blow it! Keep it uncluttered, state your profile at the top, then highlight your skills, experience and achievements.