Writing a CV and cover letter


3 min read

Curriculum Vitae Cover letter Who else can help

Your CV and cover letter are the first chance to make a positive impression on your potential employer, so make sure your application stands out. Here are some suggestions on creating a CV and cover letter to help an employer understand your experience and potential value to their business.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Your CV is a tool to impress potential employers by showcasing why you’re the right person for the job. A good CV is:

  • Relatively short, 1-2 pages at the most.
  • Positive, honest, and accurate - you should be prepared to back up any points you make with facts and references.
  • Tailored to the job you are applying for.
  • Well written - get someone else to check your spelling and grammar.

Writing a CV

Your CV should include:

  • Contact details - make sure your email address is professional, sk8terh8ter@nzmail.com might not be the impression you want to give a potential employer, john.smith@nzmail.com is simple.
  • A personal statement (optional) - one or two sentences that summarise your career goal.
  • Your skills - compare the skills you have with the skills required for the job you’re applying for and note these down. Include transferable skills gained from previous employment e.g. punctuality, teamwork, problem solving and communication.
  • Work history - include your most recent jobs or volunteer experiences and be sure to include the company, job/role title, where the job was, the start and end date, followed by a short summary describing your role responsibilities or greatest achievements.
  • Education and training - start with your latest achievements and work backward, keeping it relevant. As well as school or university courses, you might have Primary ITO courses, DairyNZ training, first aid training, and driving licence details to include. How far back you go depends on your age and experience but nothing before year 11 or 12 at school is necessary.
  • Personal interests - list some hobbies such as sports, clubs, community interests, and individual hobbies. Including these can help an employer get to know you better and understand how you may fit with the farm culture and local community.
  • Referees - these are individuals a prospective employer may contact to learn more about you. They could include former employers, co-workers, teachers, or sports coaches. Include two referees, specifying how they know you and provide their contact details. It’s a good idea to let your referees know each time you apply for a job so they can be prepared for when the potential employer calls.

For some CV templates visit Careers New Zealand CV builder.

Cover letter

A cover letter is a letter addressed to the potential employer and will accompany your CV. The cover letter introduces you and emphasises how the skills and experiences you have listed in your CV align with the job they are advertising and why you’re the best applicant for the role. The cover letter is your opportunity to express your personality, goals, and career intentions. If you know your CV is likely to raise any questions with an employer (for example there may be a gap in your work history), then proactively addressing these in your cover letter is also a good idea.

Writing a cover letter

A well-written cover letter allows your application and CV to stand out. It should provide a sense of who you are and why you want this job. Some things to think about when writing a cover letter:

  • No longer than one page. Include some personal details at the top of the letter, such as your name, job you are applying for, and contact information to make it easier for the employer to follow up with you.
  • It should be at least semi-formal. Use professional language, no slang, and check for spelling mistakes and grammar.
  • Ensure you write the letter specifically for the job you are applying for. It is easy to spot generic cover letters.
  • Explain your interest in the role and this farm to show you read the advert and highlight some of the key skills and experiences you would bring to the job.
  • If you are changing careers or are new to the sector, this is a good opportunity to mention your transferable skills or relatable experiences and why you want to try dairy.
  • Any notable gaps in your CV can be mentioned in your cover letter, e.g. time out for raising children, travel etc.
  • Whilst not common in other sectors, farming cover letters can (but don’t have to) mention your personal circumstances, especially if the job advert said the job came with housing, or there was potentially additional work available on the farm.

For more detailed guidance on writing a cover letter visit careers nz

Who else can help?

Asking a friend, family member or work colleague to proofread and offer suggested changes to your CV and cover letter can help ensure its accuracy and readability.

If you are working with a recruitment agency they may assist you with your CV.

Other resources which can help are:

Last updated: Feb 2024

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