6 tips to consider when writing a kickass CV to land your dream job in wildlife conservation… AND of course we have a free template to use when writing your very own so sink your teeth into this bad boy!
Often, your cover letter and CV are the first impression you make with an employer when you’re going for a job. Now, I firmly believe that your experience and your enthusiasm are much more important than pieces of paper.
However, when it comes down to it, how your CV looks and reads is important because it ultimately determines whether your experience and your enthusiasm is even considered by a potential employer.
So, for this reason, today we are talking job applications.
We will be looking at 6 tips to writing a kickass CV and ultimately receive your dream job in wildlife conservation!
- Structure your CV
- Transferable skills
- Keep the presentation simple: font, spacing, spelling
- References on request
- Collect referees before you need them
- Call first
Structure your CV
CVs follow a formula in terms of their structure and content and sticking to this is a great way to impress employers. The reason? As they scan through, they want to see ALL the information they need in a simple and expected format. If they have to dig around, they may put it in the “too hard basket”.
Now there are 101 guides to writing a CV already online. I like to use the following guide as a checklist:
- Your name and contact details
- A brief “personal statement” (although you can skip this if you prefer)
- Your education
- Your work history
- Your industry experience
That’s it – keep it simple. Now we have a free template for writing a CV to work in wildlife conservation available for you to download so I won’t go into it too much detail here.
However, know that CV’s can generally be work-focused or experience-focused. And especially when starting out (when you have no work experience in the industry), I would highly recommend an experience-based approach (see below).
When initially creating your CV to work in wildlife conservation, collate your experiences (a one-off spotlight survey, helping a PhD student one weekend, your weekly shift at the local wildlife shelter – most are worthy of inclusion) and think about the transferable skills you obtained from each experience.
For example, if you have worked in a group of people as a volunteer, you have demonstrated teamwork. If you have been able to manage a project, make decisions or give directions to others, you have demonstrated strong leadership skills.
Under both those scenarios, you could also have developed excellent communication skills, organization or delegation amongst many other skills.
The key is to think about the skills you have gained from any experience – and match them to what your employer is looking for.
And it doesn’t have to be in the wildlife conservation industry. If you are working a job in hospitality or reception, you can demonstrate skills in communication, customer service, professionalism and reliability – and the list goes on!
The trick is to think through things, recognize your skills and growth and never sell yourself short!
Fonts, spacing and spelling
While this sounds like a no brainer – when it comes to first impressions, presentation is so important! When it comes to CVs, “readability” is critical.
Make sure it is easy to read:
- Use a simple and “friendly” font, like Calibri, size 10-14.
- Use black text on a white background.
- Keep a good amount of spacing throughout the document (so your words don’t crowd each other out!)
And thoroughly check the document for spelling and grammar errors before you send it anywhere.
For more detail about layout and formatting, get your free copy of our template for writing a CV to work in wildlife conservation available for download.
References on request
For me, providing referees is only upon request. Why? Well, that way, I know
- When employers are interested in pursuing my application and would like more information (yay!)
- I am not breaching any privacy by providing contact details of my referees to the world
- I have an opportunity to warn my referees that they may receive a call in the next week or so.
Collect referees before you need them
While we’re on the subject of references. I like to have them up sleeve ready, so that it’s not stressful at all when you receive word that an employer would like you to provide referees.
Where possible, ask for written references – and collect them, from employers, supervisors or anyone who has experienced your work ethic and obvious passion for the field.
I would also ask people who you build a close connection with whether or not they would be a referee. Many supervisors will offer which is wonderful of course, but if they don’t never assume it is because they won’t – and feel no fear when asking people to effectively “vouch for your confidence”. After all, you have been helping them achieve their own objectives for a while.
This really should have been the number one tip – for me, this is so important. If I am interested in a position, I will ring the contact number listed on the job advertisement to “ask some questions”.
One of my favourite questions (if I don’t actually have one initially) is “when are you looking for someone to start in the role?”
Another great question is something that is specific to the organization you are applying to work with as you will seem like you’ve done your homework (which you have!) and interested in them specifically.
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