Monday, 24 July 2017

The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 3 - The Application

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What is our path?
What will be our story?

The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 3
The Application

Hopefully you have been able to find 1, 2, 3, or more positions which you are interested in applying for. Application methods vary, but I will try to cover as many that I am aware of. Most of my experience is in sending CVs and Cover letters, and/or filling in application forms online and offline.

CVs and Cover letters:

This is one of the most common ways to apply for a job. I have included CVs and Cover Letters together because I was once told to always send a cover letter with a CV, even if not requested. The cover letter gives space to mention things that you can't in a CV, such as why this position, why this company. My tips for Cover Letters and CVs are drawn from a number of sources, from talks at careers fairs, speaking with a careers advisor at university, and through searching for advice on the internet. The method I use is not the only way to write CV and Cover letters, it is important to create your own style so your personality can come through.

Cover Letter Tips:

  • Write a new one every time - I find writing from scratch helps tailored the application for the position and company. You may be desperate for a job and applying to many positions, but if you don't tailor your applications it will show. If you were a hiring manager who would you prefer to interview; someone who has taken the time to research the company, or someone who has generically talked about their interest as they have sent the same cover letter to 10 other companies?
  • Layout:
    • Date: top right hand side
    • Opening: 'Dear Sir or Madam' if you do not know who to address it to, 'Dear {name}' if you are given a contact or have been able to find the name of the right contact
    • Reference number: (if applicable)
    • First Line: Explain why you are writing and what position you are applying for, include where you saw the position (don't lie)
    • Background: Explain a wee bit about your background e.g. if you have graduated, from where, when and what you are currently up to.
    • Main body: Explain why you are applying for the position and the company. Pick out some examples of your career and personal history that relate to aspects they are looking for, and refer them to your CV.
    • Closing: Say something equivalent to you are looking forward to hearing from them.
    • Sign off:  Yours Sincerely 
  • Save as a PDF (unless otherwise specified)- easiest format to upload 
  • Keep it short - no longer than 1 page

CV Tips:

  • Top: Name, Telephone number, email address 
    • You don't need to include home address
    • DO NOT include age, sex, date of birth, or a picture of yourself
  • Personal Statement: A short 1 or 2 sentence piece about yourself and what you are looking for (but don't worry if you can't fit this in, especially if you have a cover letter)
  • Educational Background: In reverse chronological order - if you have Alevels, Masters, PHD etc. you don't need to list GCSEs individual you can just put e.g. 10 GCSEs A-D 
  • Other Relevant Qualifications - eg/ if you have done an online course
  • Career History: list in reverse chronological order
    • Company
    • Job title
    • Time worked there
    • underneath highlight skills: with litttle examples
      • Refer to the job spec. to include as many of the skills they are looking for
  • Other Activities: that you feel are relevant eg/ Duke of Edinburgh - and an example/s relevant to the skills required
  • Hobbies
  • References available on request (you don't need to put this if ask for on application form already)


Speculative CV and Cover Letter:

This is an application to a company you are interested in, but that may not be currently hiring.

Tips:

  • In these situations do your research about the company and possible positions
  • Be honest and straight forward - state what you are hoping to gain from this application
  • Find out who the best person to address this email to would be. In very small companies it will most likely be the director. If you are not sure who to address it too put 'Dear Sir or Madam', or phone to enquire.
  • If you are emailing the speculative application, use your cover letter as the email and mention that your CV is attached. 
  • As there is no job spec. have a think about the skills you feel the company may require or the skills a particular job may need.



Application forms:

These are very common things especially if you are not going through a recruitment agency. They can come in two forms; online or offline.

Many companies including Universities and Government Organisations will send you through an online system, that you do not have to complete all in one go, you can save and come back as long as it is all completed by the closing date.

Some companies will use forms but not an online system. You can send off for or download a word document or pdf which you can fill in on your computer, or print off and do by hand. With these you can send them by post or email them back. By post you will have to factor in the cost of postage and the time to deliver the item before the closing date.

Application forms are usually quite standard:

  • Job Information: Job title, reference number of the job you are apply for - this is especially if you are completing a offline application
  • Personal information: Name, phone number, address etc
  • Job History: Where, when, how long, why you left, and a short description of the duties you had
  • Educational History: Where, when, what 
  • Application:
    • May be upload CV and Cover letter
    • May be answer some questions eg/ Why do you want this job? Tell us about a time you have worked in a team.
    • May be write about your skills and experiences
  • References
  • Declaration and signature - Declaration that you have not lied - you could be let go or not offered the job in the first place if you are found to have lied in your application
  • HR equality form - you do not have to fill this in - the hiring team does not see this, but it is used by the company to monitor its employee makeup

Tips:

  • Application forms can be repetitive, it may be worth keeping a file on your computer of reference details, previous employment and duties summaries, and qualifications so you can copy an past where necessary
  • Some applications will ask about your current salary or previous salary - you do not have to fill this in
  • When completing the questions sections some companies such as universities and government organisations like people to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method of answering, basically a story way (beginning, middle and end) of showing your skills with a specific example. 


KEEPING RECORDS!!!

The MOST important tip that anyone can ever give you, is to keep records of your applications. Print out or save a pdf of the job description on the site you saw it on, and on if applicable the job description from the company's own website. Also keep a copy of your application CV, cover letter, or application form (online application forms let you print a version). The more information your keep the more likely you are to remember what you have applied for (you may be applying to many things at once), also you then have evidence to check if the company decides to change an aspect of the job such as salary or the hours. The information is also handy to re-read before interviews to prepare for questions and questions to ask them.

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If you have any questions regarding any part of this weeks topic or anything else, feel free to leave a comment.


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