I have recruited students for various different roles, I have read CVs, cover letters, application forms and I have interviewed students both individually and in group settings and I am always surprised at the range of applications I receive; from the really pleasing to the worrying. I thought I would write some tips about applying for jobs while your a student in the hope that maybe someone will see it before applying for a placement or job while they are still studying… I was going to try and make a load of food or recipe analogies but you guys like GIFs, right?
- First up READ THE ADVERT INSTRUCTIONS. This may sound obvious but so many people don’t do it. If they are being specific about what they need you to send or mention – it is for a reason!
- Be wary of when you send an application – an employer can see if you send it at stupid o clock in the morning or if you are sending it at the last minute. That’s not to say you should try and be the first to apply but perhaps a keener or earlier applicant may be remembered for their organised approach to applying??
- Use Social media as well as Microsoft office etc? MENTION IT! If you think using Facebook and Twitter isn’t enough to make you stand out then mention if you’ve managed pages or if you are willing to learn more about social media management. Some companies, especially SMEs LOVE that. (FACT: The Association of Graduate Recruiters identified small businesses as the only significant sector that could absorb the increasing numbers of graduates)
- Tailor your application – FOR GOODNESS SAKE TAILOR IT! Don’t send a generic application that you would send to everyone. Just as you want to be valued as a person and not a number on a spreadsheet some companies would like to see that as well
- Don’t send a CV without a cover letter or without anything in the body of the email you send. This is rude and has happened to me a few times. It suggests the person sending it hasn’t read the instructions for application and has sent it in a hurry. It also suggests a “scatter gun” approach – is that the impression you want to give the employer? Nope.
- Enthusiastic about the role? Make sure you convey that! A lot of students get bogged down in sounding professional and intelligent in an application, which yes you should try to do. HOWEVER this is not an academic essay and you are HUMAN. Try and convey some personality in the application. If you show enthusiasm for the role then you could be more likely to get it coz y’know… you sound like you actually care.
So I appreciate you could have careers advice coming out of your ears right now, even if you don’t follow this blog there is so much out there and it’s understandable to feel as though you’re being pulled in different directions. I mean, WHO DO YOU LISTEN TO?! If you do manage to take on board any messages from friends, family, lecturers, careers advisors or the internet it can be very tempting to act like you’re on The Apprentice in an interview situation, especially if you’re in front of a big company.
As mentioned above it is important to convey a sense of personality to an employer. Do you want them to think that they can work with you and would get on with you? Probably! So be flexible in your answers and make sure that you take the hint if a member of an interview panel shows surprise or adverse reaction to an answer you give. If they ask for clarification it may be that you need to adjust your approach or answer.
The best piece of advice I was given was to just be myself in an interview and don’t try to come across as a know it all. It’s OK to pause, not have all the answers immediately and to ask for the interviewer to repeat themselves. Also don’t pretend to have heard something and answer regardless. You also shouldn’t be afraid to admit if you don’t know an answer. If you do have gaps in your knowledge then say that but also add you’re willing to learn more.
Want a way to boost your applications?
I keep hearing “I wish I had done… during my degree” or “I should have done…last year” and perhaps, as a colleague suggested to me the other day, it is the age old thing where people don’t realise there is help blatantly there for them – a lot like people’s feeling towards their parents – “yeah yeah, it won’t happen to me, I know what I’m doing”. I know a lot of articulate, intelligent and thoughtful students who have a lot of opinions that they don’t put to the right use. If you have something to say find a way to channel that to benefit you and your employability.
I think that’s enough nuggets of wisdom for now … comment/share away