Applying for Jobs

Applying for Jobs

Applying for Jobs? Here’s some Advice! 

We haven’t been able to present any school CV or career talks recently, so I thought I’d put together a short blog on my experience of receiving applications, and hopefully give you some tips on how to stand out if you are currently applying for jobs.

I’ve reviewed a countless number of applications over the years and less than 10% are what I would consider “good”. The good news is that it is pretty easy to put together a strong application that isn’t fully reliant on having the greatest skills and experience. This blog is for anyone who wants to give their application (either with us, or other companies) the best chance of getting noticed, and those who struggle to get past the initial application stage.

When I’m doing a school talk on applying for a job, I always ask students how long they think I spend reviewing a single application on the first pass. Nobody has got close to the actual answer of 30 seconds, which usually sparks the biggest reaction of the whole session. I often get asked “How can you tell if an application is any good in 30 seconds?” I can’t… but I can tell if it’s not good. Here are some of the usual suspects that will guarantee you a spot on the “No” pile:

  • Poorly designed/laid out CV. It doesn’t take much to google what a good CV looks like and if you’re going for a design-based job, this is absolutely essential. Don’t expect to get a second look if you submit a plain word document using Calibri.
  • No covering letter. Not everyone is with me on this, but our job descriptions always request a covering letter. If you haven’t submitted one, then you haven’t read the advert very well, or you couldn’t be bothered. Either way, you’re not for us.
  • Not addressing the job description. On my initial scan, I’m just looking for keywords. i.e. if an essential criteria is expert knowledge of Articulate Storyline, then make sure “Articulate Storyline” is easily spottable in your CV and covering letter. I’m always amazed at the number of applications I get that don’t even mention any of the key skills required.

All of these things are easy to avoid by just putting in a little effort. If you don’t spend time on your application, don’t expect someone to put time in to reading it. If however, you have addressed the list above, you’ve bought yourself some more time and I’m going to scrutinise the application further. I’m now looking for:

  • A clear explanation of how you meet the criteria of the job. So now, it’s not just mentioning that you can use Abode Illustrator for example, but demonstrating it too. Some examples of what you’ve done previously, and a description about the techniques you are familiar with show you have the skills.
  • A personalised response. A generic cover letter is better than no cover letter, but not by a lot. I want to know why you want to work for us and what you can bring to the team. I want to see passion and enthusiasm. Again, a generic response says to me that you aren’t that bothered.
  • Show understanding of the company and the role. How will you fit in with our team and our values? Don’t be afraid to get in touch and ask questions.

If you happen to be applying for a job with us, you’ve got yourself a head start by reading this. You’ve already shown enthusiasm by finding this blog so well done – mention that in the covering letter and get some bonus points! This of course applies to other companies too – go through their social media and website to learn as much as you can – they will be flattered and impressed. You will also get a sense of if it is a company that you actually want to work for, which is really important!

If you want to discuss further, or want any help on applying for jobs, interviews or careers advice in general – I’d be delighted to talk to you and help if I can. Just drop me an email: phil@spokeseducation.com.

Also, why not check out our current jobs. If there’s nothing there, send over an application anyway – if it’s a good one, then you might save us the trouble of advertising next time an opportunity opens up.  


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