Writing and Research in the Workplace

Competency records, personal portfolios and curriculum vitae (CV)


According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, knowledge is understanding of or information about a subject that you get by experience or study.


According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, skill is an ability to do an activity or job well, especially because you have practised it.


According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, competency is an important skill that is needed to do a job.

What are examples that illustrate the differences between knowledge, skill and competency?

When is knowledge alone not sufficient?

When is skill alone not sufficient?


Mindset of an individual includes:


More comprehensively, competency is the combination of knowledge, skills and mindsets that individuals have and use appropriately and consistently to achieve specific outcomes or performance.

Competency records and portfolios

Specific situations and demonstrations of specific outcomes or performance provide the most accurate indications of competencies.

Important steps before writing a curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letters

Important steps before attending interviews

Important steps after attending interviews

The purpose of the CV is to list all of your skills and abilities.The purpose of your CV is to attract sufficient interest for an interview.
Your CV determines whether you get a job or not.Your CV is one factor of many that affect the decisions to offer interviews and jobs.
Your CV is carefully read by recruiters.The impression that your CV makes in the first 30 to 45 seconds affects whether a recruiter continues reading or not. In many cases, your CV may be imported into a computer system which scans for keywords. If your CV satisfies the computer screening, then it may reach a person who actually reads it.
Your CV should contain as much information as possible.Each piece of irrelevant or distracting information takes attention away from important information that you want the recruiter to remember. Prioritise the information you want to provide.
A paid service prepares a better CV for you.You have the skills necessary to write a CV. Writing your CV is a process that helps you to learn about yourself. Write your own CV and obtain advice while writing.

Main sections of a CV

  1. Your name
  2. Address, phone and email   (include your personal website if you have one)
  3. Education
  4. Employment   or   Experience
  5. Activities and achievements

Main formatting categories of a CV

The choices of formatting should emphasize the top categories before the lower categories.

  1. Your name
  2. Labels for each section of the CV
  3. Organization name
  4. Role / position / programme name
  5. Relevant dates
  6. Everything else

Organisation of a CV

Most CVs are organised in a chronological manner with the most recent dates first. This is also the easiest way to write a CV.

In some circumstances, a functional organisation may be useful to reduce emphasis on weaknesses that are difficult to explain.

Descriptions for each academic achievement, previous employment and other experience

Write the descriptions in a consistent manner:

Main sections of a cover letter

Use cover letters as opportunities to show your personality, research and writing skills.

  1. Address
  2. Date   (spell out the month, e.g. 5 April 2013)
  3. Name and position of a person at the company
  4. Company name and address
  5. Salutation
    1. Use colons (:) ending rather than comma (,) ending
    2. Research to find name of a specific person or position to send your letter
  6. Indicate the reason or purpose of your letter in the first paragraph
    • If you are responding to a specific job posting or advertisement, indicate the reference code and where you read it
    • If you are not responding to an advertisement, then, indicate a specific purpose, such as applying for a summer placement, sandwich placement or full time employment
    • Mention any previous contact you may have had with specific people at the company
  7. Emphasize why you are a good fit for the position or the company in the next 2 to 3 paragraphs
    • Highlight the most relevant qualifications, skills or experience
    • Look for opportunities to highlight connections to the company
    • Bring in information that demonstrate your research skills
  8. Conclude with 1 or 2 sentences providing contact details and simple thanks for reviewing your application
  9. Use either With regards, or Sincerely, in your signature block at the bottom of the letter

Use one blank line to separate each section of the letter.

When sending a cover letter via email, exclude the date because it is already part of the email.

Write with confidence

  1. Keep a mental image of yourself that you want to get across in the CV and choose words that support that image
  2. Use active voice and strong action verbs to emphasize skills and accomplishments
  3. Use facts rather than comparative adjectives

Common writing practices

  1. Use past tense, present tense and future tense at appropriate times
  2. Consistently use bullet lists or paragraph format
  3. Find a way to write sentences that do not overuse the pronouns I and me
  4. Avoid the use of colors and images unless there is a functional purpose
  5. Use spell check utility while writing and revising drafts
  6. Have 2 or 3 different people proof read printed copies when you are finished

Do NOT include information that could encourage discrimination

Personal data
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Marital or family status
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Physical or mental disability
  • National Insurance number
Work related data
  • Wage or salary amounts
  • Reasons for leaving or changing work
  • Names of other people at work

Prepare different versions of your CV

  1. Adobe Acrobat PDF document formatted for printing
  2. Online web page or website for convenient access and supporting evidence
    • Add relevant links to support work experience, skills or activities
    • Test display on mobile devices
    • Optimise display to load quickly
    • Optimise formatting for scrolling
  3. Plain text document formatted for computer scanning or import
    • Left justify everything
    • 80 to 90 characters per line
    • Remove tab spacing
    • Do not use columns or tables
    • Name in all uppercase and everything else in normal sentence case
    • Replace accents and symbols with basic ASCII equivalent characters
    • Use empty lines to separate sections and items

Common types of interviews

Identify the type of interview in order to make suitable preparations.

Checklist when interviewing

  1. Before the interview
    • Review details about the company and the position
    • Review reasons why you are a good fit for the company and the position
  2. At the start of the interview
    • If the interviewer makes small talk, then, politely respond without becoming distracted
    • Watch the body language of the interviewer to indicate whether a handshake is offered, where to sit and when to sit
  3. During the interview
    • Talk as you do in conversation without being too casual
    • Ask questions to show interest in the position and the company
    • Ask clarifying questions to show that you are listening
    • Answer question honestly without being defensive or evasive
    • If you make mistake, apologize to acknowledge the mistake, then continue in a positive manner to demonstrate your composure and character
    • If the question is unlawful or makes you uncomfortable, just say that you would like more time to think about it and will follow up after the interview
  4. Towards the end of the interview
    • Watch the body language of the interviewer to indicate when the interview is finished
    • Thank the interviewer for the interview opportunity
    • If possible, ask about the next step in the application process

General interview questions

Remember to practice questions that are specific to the job, such as software, hardware or computer networks.

Possible questions to ask the interviewer

UK legislation that affects job applications

Complete documentation of the legislation is available online at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/browse