Public Affairs Jobs: Checklist for the Perfect CV and Covering Letter

  • Added:
    Nov 13, 2013
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Public Affairs Jobs: Checklist for the Perfect CV and Covering Letter Photo by Tim Connolly

You never can tell when a sudden change of career direction means you need to dust off that CV and covering letter.

In this post, I’ll give you seven tips to get you in the race as you look for your first public affairs jobs.

A well written CV can push you to the front of the queue, make sure you create a great first impression, and possibly even induce a little gratitude in the person doing the sifting.

Someone doing the first sift of a batch of CVs might spend as little as thirty seconds scanning the page(s) bearing your name that have arrived on their desk. That desk will still have all of their regular work on it, of course.

Your CV is a fantastic first chance to show you have the analytical skills needed to identify the key things the employer is looking for and the communication skills needed to convey that message in a persuasive way – two activities that are critical for someone looking for a career in public affairs!
Public affairs jobs CV checklist

1) Keep it short. Fit your CV onto one page. Save the recruiter, Senior Consultant, Director of Communications or whoever it is looking at applications time and grab the opportunity to communicate that you are able to identify on the relevant and ignore the marginal

2) Once you have done your research, make sure your covering letter communicates that you are aware of the public affairs and communications challenges facing your potential employers. Demonstrate your awareness of the key stakeholders, perhaps by briefly referencing an upcoming consultation or inquiry and how it might impact on your potential employer

3) If you have identified a particular political or policy agenda that is critical for your prospective employer, do everything you can to demonstrate your ability to help with that agenda, and solve your new organisation’s biggest headache. If you can’t demonstrate that ability, demonstrate awareness of it and the desire to learn!

4) Don’t bother to include information that is anything less than extremely relevant for the role you are applying to. There is no need to include extended details of your first role out of university, for example, but any time you spent interning for a political party should be covered in as much detail as is reasonable

5) Be aware of the effect the layout of the information on the page will have. A CV which has too much white space inevitably seems thin, even if the text tells a powerful story of achievement. Similarly, a page that is too crowded suggests a lack of ability to prioritise. A little judicious formatting can go a long way – make your CV easy to read

6) Don’t talk at length about why you think your particular political party is wonderful, or the organisation you are applying to is market-leading. Anything more than a brief overview of why you are applying to a jobs will likely seem self-serving even when completely genuine

7) Follow the usual golden rules of CV writing. Check spelling, ask someone else to look over it before sending it anywhere, be scrupulously honest but donít undersell your achievements, and make sure the CV and covering letter are tailored to the role

If you have any questions on CVs and covering letters for jobs in government, communications jobs or think tank jobs, let us know in the comments.

If you found this post useful, you might also enjoy our post on performing in interviews for public affairs jobs.

Author's Profile

Tim Connolly is a public affairs professional and the publisher of Public Affairs Jobs HQ, a magazine for people in public affairs and policy jobs with all the latest industry news and gossip


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