Job applications can be quite stressful.
Whether you’re looking to start your career or just trying to find any work for now, applications can be tough. It’s tempting to send the same CV and cover letter to every job you apply for, but this will probably not work. Here are our top things to think about when you’re completing a job application, and hopefully will help you score that interview:
1. Understand what the employer is asking for
If you’re applying to a consulting firm, don’t send them the same application that you’d use for banking. If you’re applying for bar work to tide you over during your studies, don’t repeat what you said in your application for a summer internship.
The majority of jobs will have a person specification detailing the kinds of skills required for it. Being great at customer service will not make you good at databases and vice versa, so make sure you’re clear on what the employer is looking for when you write your application.
2. Match yourself to the job description
You should look at the in-depth job description the most before writing your application. Check the kinds of responsibilities you’ll hold, and then discuss previous roles where you’ve done similar things.
The most important part of your application is showing the employer that you are competent and able to fulfill the role requirements, so make sure you’ve done this before anything else.
3. Apply in good time
It may be tempting to put off submitting your application until the closing date of a job opportunity so that you have time to check and re-check your application. However if a role has a large number of applications then they do sometimes close early, so be sure to apply with plenty of time to spare.
4. Focus on your opening
Cover letters and personal statements have to be read very quickly by recruiters as they’ll have so many applications to go through, so make sure that your opening is sharp, concise, and interesting.
In this introduction focus on how you meet requirements, but don’t be too arrogant about it. Make sure that you have the company name and job role correct or your application will automatically be rejected, and check all of your spelling, punctuation and grammar too.
5. Break down your skills
If the description is looking for something like strong communication skills, then you should break down and specify what communication skills you have and how you’ve developed them.
For example, are your communication skills mainly with clients in person, or are you also good at written communication? Is this because you had a job answering emails or because you do something like writing for The Beaver? Are your spoken communication skills mainly on a one-to-one basis, or do you have experience in speaking to large groups?
Breaking down skills like this into specifics allows the recruiter to see exactly why you’re good at what you’re claiming, and makes you a much more personable and attractive candidate.
6. Draft and redraft
You shouldn’t redraft your application so much that it loses your initial passion, but you definitely need to check it over a couple of times before sending it off.
It’s a good idea to get someone else to look over your application too, whether it’s a friend or colleague, or one of our careers consultants in an appointment. When you get someone else to check your application, they’ll be able to see any mistakes or awkward sentences that you might miss, and will be able to tell you if you’ve sold yourself effectively.
7. Be concise
If you want to demonstrate that you have a certain skill, you don’t need to give multiple examples if it’s something quite minor to the role. One example per competency is usually enough, and you don’t need to over-explain why it’s relevant either.
You will be packing a lot of information into your cover letter or personal statement as you should generally have it all on one page, so make sure you’ve said everything you need to say without any unnecessary details.
8. Don’t exaggerate
A lot of people don’t know that it is actually illegal to lie on your CV, and that this can lead to a prison sentence for fraud. Don’t lie on your application, and don’t exaggerate either.
Your potential future employer will fact check with your education institutions and with past employers, so make sure that you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on any applications you make.
9. Make sure your contact information is up to date
This one seems so simple, but is an easy mistake to make. If you’re sending out multiple CVs or applications, it’s likely that you copy and paste your basic information from one to another. When doing this, always make sure that the email address and/or telephone number that you provide are correct and valid, as something as simple as that will mean that you don’t receive your invite to interview.
10. Highlight your achievements
Don’t assume that something amazing you’ve done will speak for itself. If you have achieved something that you’re really proud of and can make relevant to the job you’re applying for, make sure anyone reading it knows it.