Everyone knows that looking for a job can be as demanding as having a job it’s self. It can be difficult to know how you might best attract employers’ attention among tens or hundreds of other applicants.
Over the past five years, we’ve received hundreds of applications and put together a few of our own top tips.
*Please note that recruitment can be highly subjective, the below tips are specific to our recruitment processes and may not always be relevant to all employers. Whether you are seeking an opportunity with Beyond the Classroom or another organisation, we hope this information will help you to land that very exciting opportunity you’ve got your sights on. So pull out a note pad and pour yourself a cup of tea!
Say my name, say my name: If the advertiser has been so kind as to offer you their name, please use it. If you can avoid it, don’t call them “Sir”, ”Madam”, “To Whom It May Concern” or any of those other very impersonal greetings. This simply shows attention to detail and it also makes your application more personal. Make your reader feel special!
Proof read: If you have a plethora of spelling and grammatical inaccuracies in your application it can give a bad impression. Especially if the job spec asks for ‘strong communication skills and a keen eye for detail’, as so many applications do.
Read the job advert properly: It sounds simple enough, but it can be very obvious when someone hasn’t bothered to read the job spec or application instructions in detail. If you are asked to send a CV of up to 2 pages, please don’t send 5. It doesn’t look clever, it just looks like you can’t follow simple instructions.
Remember to attach the Application: Another seemingly simple suggestion but employers don’t have time to follow you up if you forget to attach your CV. No matter how pleasant your cover email comes across.
Keep it simple: With every advert we post we have very specific instructions on how to apply. For example; ‘please send your CV and cover letter in a single document’ if you send three documents we have to open all three of them and we may have 100 more applications waiting in our inbox. Just make things as simple as possible, this tip is certainly good practice wherever you are applying!
Keep it Succinct: If you send a 5 page CV, we have to search through it to find the relevant information we are looking for. Just tell the recruiter what she/he needs to know and don’t bulk up your applications with detail irrelevant to the role. Remember the 99 other applications still to be opened? Yours is just one!
Also, don’t send two CV’s e.g. an actors CV and youth work CV, it’s your job to send the most relevant information in the most useful format possible. We shouldn’t have to search for it!
Make me feel special: If you send a file named ‘CV for youth jobs’ it’s very clearly a generic application for which you have made no effort to customize. Name the file with your own name or that of the organisation / role you are applying for. It’s a small detail, but might just give you the edge over another applicant who couldn’t be bothered.
We’re only little: We are only a small organisation and often receive 50 - 100 applications for a single position, larger companies are likely to receive many more. This means you shouldn’t beat yourself up about not making it through to the next stage.
It’s interview time!
If you make it through to interview stage, be super chuffed! It means the recruiter likes you and you are a suitable candidate for the job. But you may be one of six and the final decision could come down to anything. So…
Be honest: This goes for interview and CV, it can be quite obvious when you are trying to embellish things. No one is perfect and you’re not expected to know everything. A very honest ‘I don’t know, but am eager to learn’ will always bode better than a made up story!
Not too early: It’s always advisable to arrive a few minutes early for an interview, but no more than that. You are likely to turn up during someone else’s interview, you’ll be sitting around making yourself more nervous.
Don’t cry: The work we do in this sector is challenging and can really pull on the heartstrings. But please don’t cry in an interview, this gives the impression that you have not prepared well and comes across as a little unprofessional.
Do your research: It sounds basic, but spend some time just reading over the company’s website and getting a feel for who they are and what they do. Do you fit in well with their ethos? If so, tell them and give examples too!
Be yourself: Interviews are all about getting to know the person behind the application. The best thing you can do is relax so that all of that lovely personality can shine through!
Feedback is king! If you didn’t get the position this time, be sure to ask for feedback. Don’t simply fail to respond to the email informing you of the outcome of your application.
Applying for jobs is all about how you present yourself to others, learning more about how you’ve been perceived will be useful in your next pursuit. You may not agree with the feedback and it’s always your choice whether or not to take the advice on board. Either way, it’s always going to be useful to know, and it can’t hurt.