You’ve seen the perfect job advertised and want to give
yourself the best chance of scoring an interview. The application form is your
first opportunity to impress, so how do you present the best version of
yourself to your prospective employer?
In conjunction with our ‘Life Skills‘ series,
we’ve compiled some hints and tips for putting together a winning application,
working with the job-search
gurus at Reed to give you the best possible advice.
This is one of the first things a prospective employer will
see, so you have to make it perfect. Present yourself in the best possible
light, and they will be more likely to invite you for an interview as a result.
Your CV should be concise, yet cover all of the essential
- Your personal details (name, full address, contact
phone number, email address)
- Your employment history (where you worked, how long
for, and your job role)
- Responsibilities and skills
If you can drive and have your own car, be sure
to include this on your CV. Some jobs may require you to drive on occasion,
even if this isn’t specified in the job
spec, and therefore recruiters may look favourably upon this.
Make your CV neat and presentable – leaving Comic Sans at the
door – and proofread it thoroughly. A stray apostrophe may not seem like a big
deal but it can undermine your claims of attention to detail, perfectionism,
and communication abilities.
Catherine Maskell, head of marketing at Reed, says:
“The first step in landing that dream job is to make sure
your CV fits the bill. Remember to tailor it for the role as employers can tell
when they have been sent a CV that has been used for multiple applications.
“Don’t forget to also include a covering letter which
highlights how you meet the skills required, what experience you have, and how
it will benefit you in the role. It also helps to include a little about why
you would like to work for that particular company to demonstrate you have done
If you want your CV to really stand out, an interesting and
creative design could be ideal. Templates are a great starting point if you’re
not 100% confident, and there are plenty of services online that can help you –
templates for a range of job levels.
These don’t stop just because you’ve left school!
Landing a perfect job can require a bit of elbow grease
outside of the working environment, so don’t be afraid to try something new if
it will increase your employability.
Catherine Maskell recommends showcasing your skills however
“Whether this is simply setting up a blog to build on your
writing and communications skills or working at a local shop gaining customer
service skills, these small things can really make a difference. Of course, if
you can gain experience in the industry you work in too, that is an added
The tasks that will be beneficial for you in your job hunt
will depend on your sector. If the industry you are seeking a job in requires a
lot of interpersonal communication, for example, try volunteering in a charity
shop where you will encounter a range of customers on a daily basis.
However you can display your work-based talents, this will
serve you very well when it comes to sending off applications.
You’ve done it – you’ve landed an interview! So, what now?
Well, Catherine Maskell’s first step is a bit of digging:
“Make sure you read up on the company you are interviewing
with beforehand as you will be expected to have at least basic knowledge of how
they operate. If you’ve done your research, you should also have a good idea
about the company
culture and know how to
Where researching is concerned, Reed
suggests taking a broad approach, looking at the company’s history,
as well as its present values and projects. Its website is an excellent place
to start – see what kind of brand image it is portraying, and which campaigns
or projects it is publicising.
In addition, look up the business’s social media pages, as
this can tell you a lot about the day-to-day and social aspects of the company,
as well as the kind of work-life balance it encourages.
Utilise Twitter to get an insight into the company’s wider
horizons. Which accounts does it follow? Who does it retweet and engage with?
This can help you figure out which section of an industry it occupies, and what
messages or attitudes it likes to promote.
Preparation is key, so read over the job specifications again
to see what skills they require from you, and what examples you can give to
illustrate your proficiency.
Many companies nowadays opt for Skype interviews, especially
if you are relocating and are therefore unable to attend face-to-face. If you
find the prospect a bit daunting and need some more specific advice, we’ve got hints and
tips to help you feel ready.
– when you’re there
Making a perfect first impression is vital, and what you wear
can be a big factor in this. Take a look at Reed’s advice about how to
dress for success, whatever level or industry you’re interviewing for.
Ironed, clean, and respectable clothing is key, and you should
arrive early and prepared.
When you’re actually being interviewed, take your time over
every question rather than feeling like you have to rush an answer. Consider
your wording carefully, and if you need clarification, ask for it: it’s far
better to do this than to provide an answer to a question you haven’t actually
Finally, Catherine has one last tip for success:
“Remember to smile! Interviews don’t have to be nerve-wracking.
First impressions count in an interview and smiling will help you to relax as
Whether you’re finding your first job or looking for a
change, these tips can help you score the perfect role. Be honest about how
your skills match the job spec, and
prepare your way to a confident and compelling interview.
Need help keeping on
top of a busy application or interview schedule? Invest in a
good diary or organiser to ensure you get everything done on time.