Your chances of being employed will be much better if you think quality over quantity and invest your time in making a few very good applications, rather than dozens of generic applications which yield no interviews.
Making a successful application requires a significant investment of time and effort. It is not something which can be completed in a couple of hours nor should you send the same application for two different jobs.
Your job application is your opportunity to evidence your suitability for the post and show your understanding of the role, the sector and the company.
If you do this well you should be short listed and then you will have a further opportunity to profile your suitability at interview.
However, if you do not match yourself to their requirements you will not get short listed. Simple.
Remember this is not about selling yourself – it is about showing how you fit the role. This is a subtle but very important difference which you must understand if you are to make a successful application.
The employer has spent time making it clear what their requirements are – they have advised this in their published job specification.
Your task is to unpack the job specification and clearly show how you would be the best fit.
The tools you will need to complete this task are:
Your previously completed audit of skills, experiences and qualifications
Your research on the sector or role requirements
A printed copy of the job specification and person specification
A highlighter pen
Your university careers department will be able to offer good quality advice about making successful applications including advice and guidance on compiling your CV.
Complete only after reading the instructions carefully.
Follow the instructions to the letter regarding length of answers, chronology of entering employment history etc.
Should be clearly and logically laid out.
Should be tailored to the job you are applying for.
Should provide an overview, show essential information and not be overly long.
Should follow the length guidance given. If no guidance is given then you can use your judgement or seek advice from your careers adviser at university. In general terms something between one and two pages gives you the scope to do justice to your application.
Should be tailored for the post you are applying for. For aspects of the letter which you are recycling from past applications be very careful when cutting and pasting electronically that it refers to the new post and new company and not the previous one.
A good letter will require drafting and re writing. This will take time.
If you have been called for an interview for a post then you will be in the shortlist of a small number of candidates. Congratulations for getting this far.
Preparation is the key. You need to anticipate the questions and prepare thoroughly beforehand. The more familiar you are with the company, the advertised role and the required person specification and responsibilities then the easier it will be for you to demonstrate your suitability for the post.
Whilst interviewing you, the interviewer is thinking:
Can I imagine this person filling this vacancy?
Have they demonstrated that they understand this company?
Do they understand the role?
Have they given evidence that they have the skills to do the job?
Whilst employers have different styles and ways of interviewing, they are fundamentally aiming to fill the vacancy they have advertised. You need to show how you would fit the role.
Research the company fully – use their website but also the wider internet and the press.
Are you clear how this role fits with the wider company, how the company is funded and the different functions of the company or organisation?
Clarify all aspects of the advertised job by re reading the information about the role and the person specification. Look back over your application and the CV you submitted. Take both with you on the day.
Think yourself into the interviewer’s head and compile a list of the most likely questions. Whilst there will always be one question you fail to anticipate, for the rest this is not difficult. If you were recruiting to this role how would you find out who was the best candidate?
Prepare your answers to the questions. Are you evidencing your experience, skills and qualifications in your answers? Are you thinking yourself into the job in your answers? Practice out loud, preferably to a person who can give you some positive feedback.
Personal appearance matters a great deal in interviews and for some interviewers the fact that you have failed to do up your top button, failed to wear a tie or worn a cardigan rather than a jacket will be of critical importance. As a rule of thumb, formal i.e. jackets/suits for both male and female will rarely offend and is the safer option.
Body language and eye contact make a strong impression on your interviewer. They may be thinking to themselves ‘How will this person come across in meetings with clients?’
At the end of the interview you will usually be asked if you have any questions. For some interviewers this is the decider. A good question is a way of further demonstrating what you know about the company, the sector or a relevant issue. Prepare several good questions as it is possible that the interviewer will cover some of the same ground.
Failing to ask a question when you are given the opportunity is always a mistake and will count against you. Played well, this is an opportunity for you to in effect answer your own question.
NB This is not an opportunity to demonstrate an area of ignorance about something fundamental. Nor is it the opportunity to ask demanding questions about holiday allowance, pay or working hours. These matters can be discussed after the job has been offered to you.
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Featured image: Christina @wocintechchat/Unsplash
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