By Careers Coach, Chris Hammond
Applying for an apprenticeship or first job in your chosen
industry will be a significant point in your career journey and life. The same
can be said for any further interviews for your career progression and that all
important promotion. However, it can be a tricky process and one that you need
to prepare for. Here’s some advice on
what’s coming your way…
Applying for a job
Different companies will have different processes for recruitment and selection. Some will request a CV and covering letter to apply and this needs some time and thought to prepare. To increase your chance of standing out you must tailor your CV (personal profile and skills at least) to the job you are applying for, and this means doing some research into the company and the job role you are applying for.
Help with tailoring your CV: https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/tailoring-your-cv-what-you-need-to-know/
There’s also Video CV’s. While they're not suitable for every type of job, video CVs are increasing in popularity. Employers can be inundated with applications, so it's important to make your CV stand out. One way this can be done is by submitting your CV in video format.
Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcO-Ly4nX0c
Some companies will expect you to complete a set application form. It is important to make sure you are accurate as you’ll need to add all personal details, qualifications and previous and/or current work experience and when you have done a few it can be easy to become complacent - DON’T BE. When it comes to writing the vital bit that sells yourself, the company basically tell you what you need to cover using a ‘person specification’.
This usually covers areas including qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience and will have set criteria in each section. For example, in the skills section it might say you need excellent communication skills (written and oral). It wouldn’t be appropriate to just say…
“I have excellent communication skills both written and oral”
You must give real examples of when you have used these skills, for example…
“During my previous employment I regularly used many forms of communication including emails, phone and face to face (including video calls) to communicate with various people at different levels within the company and customers and partners outside the company. In addition to this, I regularly wrote detailed reports for my line manager”.
Tip: your experience doesn’t always have to come from a working environment. It can come from school, college, volunteering, hobbies (coaching and organisational roles) and awards such as The Duke of Edinburgh Award and The National Citizen Service. Think outside the box when needed.
Something new to the job application market is Game-Based Assessments! These assessments use gaming technology and embedded analytics to help employers make decisions during their recruitment processes. Usually these decisions are based on which candidates best suit the job role they are looking to fill. They form part of the puzzle as to how suitable you are for the role and company.
Interviews are where your potential employer has the chance to find out if you are suited to the job role they are looking to fill. They can take a few formats including; face to face, phone and video call. You will be expected to answers questions related to yourself, your experience, your knowledge of the role and industry as well as what you would do in certain situations. You may also be expected to complete additional tasks such as: group work, role plays and presentations. Interviews can also have different stages that you must ‘pass’ to go further in the process.
So, with all this in mind, make sure you are prepared! Here’s some tips on how best to do so:
- Read your CV or application. Make sure you know it inside out as it will be referred to during your interview by the person(s) interviewing you.
- Make sure you know the duties and purpose of the job role, again, you will be asked questions on this and how you and your skills, knowledge and experience will make sure these duties are carried out effectively.
- Research the company you are applying to. Know what they do as a whole. What are their current major projects? Do they have any community links? Are they carrying out any charity work? Have they positively been in the news? Knowing some or all of this shows you are genuinely interested in the job and company and are being proactive.
- If you are travelling to an interview…plan your journey! Make sure you know how to get there, where you can park, which bus or train to take and what times they arrive. Try to find out exactly where the building is that you need to go to. A ‘dummy run’ could be a good idea if you are unfamiliar with the area and/or the interview is in a city.
- Choose your clothes a few days before to avoid a time consuming decision process the morning of the interview. Excellent personal hygiene is more important than ever! Make sure you are showered, washed, teeth brushed and hair done appropriately.
- Due to recent events, the virtual interview is now more prevalent. Carry out the same prep for this type of interview. However, swap the journey planning to technology assessment! Make sure your laptop is fully charged or has a working charger, make sure you are in a suitable place for a good Wi-Fi connection and make sure whatever platform is used for the interview is compatible and working on your laptop or computer. Suitable attire is still important at home and make sure you won’t be interrupted. This includes animals as it’s highly doubtful that the person(s) interviewing will find your cat cute as it walks across your screen.
Any job market can be tough to crack, so resilience is key. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again! If you are unsuccessful with an application or interview, you should always ask for feedback from the employer. This way you can make sure you improve on the feedback points for next time, therefore continually improving your application and interview techniques.