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A Simple But Effective Guide To Getting Your Application Right

Looking for a new job is difficult, especially in the current climate. An average job advert can potentially attract hundreds of applicants. How do you make yourself stand out and what should you do if the employer calls you?

Having worked in recruitment for a number of years, I know the process can be frustrating for both candidate and employer, so here are five essential tips on applying for jobs and how to get noticed for the right reasons.

1 – Ensure you meet the essential criteria

Essential criteria is there for a reason – an employer has a specific role and wants a specific skill set, and the essential criteria highlights that skillset. Rarely will an employer step outside those conditions, so if you don’t meet the essential requirements, you are highly unlikely to be considered.

Check through every section before you apply and ask if you can show an example of how you meet the criteria. It is vital you apply for the jobs you are qualified for, otherwise you are wasting your time, which could be better spent on more appropriate roles.

2 – Is your CV of a high standard?

It sounds harsh, but at the start of the process, an employer is looking for a reason to reject applicants. They may receive upwards of 50 applications and from that, they will only choose 5-6 per available role. They only want to interview the best people for the job and that starts with CV screening.

If you want to be one of those selected, your CV has to be up to a high standard. If it isn’t, you’re making their job easy. A good hiring manager wants and needs to be splitting hairs over who to interview. A top-notch CV will make sure that your skills and experience will be fully scrutinised. Even if you don’t get interviewed on this occasion, you’ve made the hiring manager think hard about who to interview.

3 – Always attach a cover letter

Many online applications can give you the option to include a cover letter, and there may be a temptation to skip past this part. After all, it’s your CV they want to read, right?

Not always. Many employers prefer to read a cover letter before the CV, and if you’ve taken the time to write one, it can often be looked upon more favourably than an application without one. A CV only goes so far, but you can sell yourself a little more with a cover letter.

4 – Make sure you’re available

If you’re one of the lucky ones selected for interview, make sure to take their call when they ring. When job hunting, you provide your contact details for a reason – you want them to contact you and their number will not be in your address book. So, don’t ignore the call just because you don’t recognise the number.

I lost count of the number of times I rang a candidate, left a voicemail, then received a text message saying ‘new fone, who dis?’ It is completely unprofessional, and an employer will think twice about inviting you for the interview. I certainly did.

But don’t fear if you miss the call; just be sure to ring them back as soon as possible, apologise for missing the call and don’t forget to thank them for the invite.

5 – Don’t wrangle over interview dates

When recruiting, employers have a set timescale. Most will set dates for the job advert to go live, shortlisting and interviews, and they expect candidates to accept the dates given.

If you have a genuine reason, such as a hospital appointment, tell them. Unless it’s something serious, don’t try and arrange the date that suits you. Reasons such as ‘I’m working that day,’ ‘my car is in for a service’ or ‘I’m taking the dog to the vet for his annual check-up’* are not valid reasons for rearranging an interview date. Book the time off, rearrange the service and re-book the vet. You’re the one who wants the job so don’t expect an employer to be totally flexible over interview dates.

And finally…

Applying for a job is often the hardest part of the process. Some may say an interview is harder, but at this stage, once you’ve sent your application, that’s it – there’s nothing more you can do, but an interview gives you a chance to clarify or back up any points you have made. By following the five tips above when applying for jobs, you have the potential to turn a maybe into a definitely.

*Actual reasons given to me for trying to rearrange an interview date.

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