With applications for April 2016’s round of recruitment closing last week, and over 100 applications for two roles, we’ve gained a real insight into the minds of applicants. Here are 5 pieces of advice for any jobseeker…
1. Read the job description
A significant amount of time and effort goes into preparing job adverts and descriptions; detailing the skills required for the roles, what the job entails, the perks, etc. etc. When a job attracts your attention read the description, then read it again, and again. Digest it, and then start to think about how your own skills and experience match it and how you demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the role.
Tailor your application to the job description. With a 1-page cover letter and a 2-page CV to showcase yourself, space is at a minimum. Use it wisely. And use it to highlight specifically why your skills and aptitudes match those required. For example, listing off your academic qualifications (unless related) for a role that a) really doesn’t require any and b) specifically doesn’t stipulate for any, is a waste of space. Focus on what we, the employer, are looking for. We are more interested in your transferable skills (e.g. your ability to communicate with people) and your personal values than whether or not you got a C or above in GCSE English 10 years ago.
And if the job isn’t what you’re looking for, is completely irrelevant for you, or you simply don’t fancy it, don’t apply.
2. Make your application stand out
Your application is your chance to make a standout first impression. And, in the case of our most recent recruitment campaign, with over 100 applications for two roles, you need to differentiate yourself from the rest. You need to stand out. From your skills and experience, to the language you use, to the format of your CV. Keep it simple, keep it to the point but make us want to know more about you (by way of inviting you to interview).
We’re not talking fireworks, unicorns or rainbows here but a generic, fire-off the same CV to all potential employers, approach does not work. It is obvious not only that a) you’ve done exactly this, but also b) you haven’t spent any time at all looking into the role, and c) gives the impression that you really do not want to be considered for the role. And chances are you won’t be, it is an immediate no.
Think outside the box. And think about what would catch your eye as a potential employer. What would you want to know about you? For example, in your CV, while you’ll want to include your past work history, this shouldn’t be the main draw. This is very tick boxing stuff. Again, what we’re really interested in knowing is what skills you possess, what are you really really good at, and how does that fit alongside with what we’re looking for. Your past work history provides the evidence for these skills.
And don’t just draw on your traditional ‘work’ experience. We all do things outside of the 9-5, use these to demonstrate your skills and aptitudes. While simultaneously illustrating that you are in fact a human being (however, do not just reel off a list of ‘hobbies’ at the end of your CV, this does not have the same effect).
3. Do not, do not, do not highlight any negatives or faults you feel you may have
Just don’t do it. This stage (the CV and cover letter) is about getting yourself through to the interview and with three pages to do it do not spend time mentioning/considering/suggesting what you perceive to be your negatives. Talk about everything in the positive and have confidence in your abilities and skills, the focus on showcasing these.
4. Unless you have your privacy settings set, your social media accounts are public, and potential employers can see it all
In our application process we specifically highlight the importance of social media to our business (by asking applicants to tweet why they want a job with Baked), but while this is not the case with all employers, all employers can easily search potential candidates online to get a further insight on their character and persona.
Social media is a great tool, for both business and personal use. But it can also be your undoing. If you’re running a personal account (on any platform), remember that if it is public, it is reflecting, and is further showcasing, you. Think about what you are using your accounts for and tailor your privacy settings appropriately.
5. Proof read your application
Sounds simple but the number of applications we received littered with spelling, grammar and formatting errors is shocking. Again, there is no need to overcomplicate your application, we’re not looking for War & Peace here, but poor spelling and use of language creates a really really bad first impression, while also demonstrating a distinct lack of attention to detail. Use spellcheck, proof read it yourself, read it again, then get someone else to do it for you (a parent, partner, colleague, mentor, it’s three pages and won’t take them long).
And double check the name of the company you’re applying to. Getting that wrong is seriously not cool.
Your local library
A Google search for ‘modern CV’ brings up a plethora of formats to inspire your CV writing
Your friends, family, colleagues and mentors