Do you feel like applying for new jobs is simply a numbers game? Do you put as many applications as you can out there, hoping you increase your chances of getting a reply from somebody? Does it often feel as though you’re throwing your applications into the abyss, never knowing if you’ll receive a reply back at all? If you feel like this, then this collection of job application tips is for you.
Using these eight simple, easy-to-apply principles, you will see a better response to your applications. This will allow you to be more targeted in your job search and only apply for the roles that you would love to do.
With that in mind, let’s get into it.
1. Quality Not Quantity
Of all the job application tips included in this article, this one is the most important. It’s the foundation on which all of the other tips are based.
When applying for jobs, it’s easy to feel like you need to apply for as many as you can. It makes sense, right? The more you apply to, the more chance you have of landing one. This is wrong. Why? Because when you’re applying for lots of roles, this often means that the quality of the applications themselves will suffer.
With this said, the first piece of advice we have for you is this: ensure every application you send is of the highest possible standard. That’s not to say that you can’t apply for lots of roles, but you should only do so if the quality of what you’re submitting is the best it can be.
And not only that, but ensure that you’re selective with what you apply for. I understand, sometimes you will find yourself out of work and in desperate need of your next role. But when you have the luxury of taking your time and only applying for jobs that you really like the sound of – do so.
So how do we ensure that each application is high quality? Read on to find out.
2. Tailor Your CV To Your Industry
Now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how important your CV is. It is, along with your cover letter (which we will come on to later), the first point of contact an employer will have with you. There are already a number of articles on our website on how you can get more out of your CV.
However, something that often gets overlooked is just how important it is to tailor your CV to suit the industry you are applying for. As we’re an IT recruitment agency, I will be giving you IT-related examples for this list of job application tips.
Make Seemingly Irrelevant Work Experience Super-Relevant
So let’s say you’re an aspiring web developer (and if you’re on our website, you could well be!). You’re looking for your first entry-level role. Your previous experience includes an assortment of unrelated roles such as retail or hospitality, which you did on the side of studying to bring in some money. Fine.
While it’s important to have these on your CV to show your work history, you may think they’re pointless when trying to get a role as a web developer. However, this would be incorrect. In fact, there is a lot of value to be taken from these past positions, namely soft skills.
So how can you use this experience to your advantage? When you are writing your responsibilities, keep your potential future employer in mind. What skills will they require from you as a web developer?
Although you won’t need to put anybody’s order through a checkout, the communication element of customer service will certainly come in handy. And you won’t need to serve a three-course meal to 200 guests, but you will need to work as part of a team. I’m sure you can see where this is going. The idea here is to position your responsibilities to showcase the hugely valuable (and relevant) soft skills you have acquired.
The Rest Of Your CV
Ok, great. So your work experience is sorted. Next up, the rest of your CV. Much in the same way as your work experience must be tailored, so too should your skills section. While you may have a plethora of skills, only the ones that are relevant to the role you’re applying for really matter. Make sure you’re carefully cherry-picking which skills to include on your CV.
The same goes for your hobbies and interests – should you choose to include them on your CV. It’s good to show that you have an out-of-work interest in things related to the role – why? Because people who are passionate about what they do often do it very well. That’s not to say you shouldn’t include your other interests that aren’t related; it’s good to give employers an insight into what you’re like as a person. A good alternative to hobbies and interests is an achievements section, which we would recommend approaching in the same way.
3. Write A Bespoke Cover Letter Specifically For The Role
People often overlook the power of a covering letter. They see it as a needless addition to a task that they don’t really want to do in the first place. And if I’m being completely honest with you – I used to feel the same way about them too. I used to think “why waste my time writing this when it probably won’t get read anyway”.
What really changed my mind was when I started doing a bit of freelance work. If you’ve ever done any freelancing, you will know that securing freelance clients can be DIFFICULT, especially when you’re starting out. So what sets you apart from the 75 other freelancers trying to acquire the same client as you? Your pitch, of course!
Pitching to a client is very similar to writing a cover letter. The key difference with freelancing is this: it is make or break. It’s the difference between you getting the work or not. A good pitch is straight to the point. It introduces you and your services. And most importantly, it introduces your potential client to the BENEFITS your services will bring directly to them.
For a pitch to really resonate with the client, it must be specific. For this reason, it can’t really be a cut+paste job – it needs to be written for them. Or at least the majority of it anyway. Of course, you can use parts from previous pitches if you wish, but on the whole it needs to be specific to that client.
Applying This To Your Cover Letter
One day, it occurred to me – ‘what if I approach cover letters in the same way I pitch to clients?‘ And do you know what happened? The response rate from jobs that I applied for went up dramatically. The reason for this is because I was able to demonstrate who I am, what I could do and exactly how this would benefit their company.
For me, this is one of the best job application tips that I can provide because, in my experience, it really works. If there is one thing I would recommend trying for yourself, it would be this.
4. Show Them What You Can Do
It’s one thing telling a potential employer that you can do something, but do you know what’s better? Showing them. If you can create a portfolio, you absolutely should.
The reason you should do this is because not only does it show that you have previously done the work before, it also shows the quality of your work. For this reason, it’s best to make sure only your very best work makes it into your portfolio.
There are plenty of websites out there that are great for showcasing your work (if you need inspiration for how to showcase your portfolio pieces, look no further). But if you want to take it up a notch – why not create a website of your own? When you do this, it becomes almost like a big, interactive CV. Not only is it a place that you can direct potential employers to, to see your portfolio pieces, you can also include other content such as an ‘about me’, as well as testimonials and more.
If you send an employer to your website, they will almost certainly have a click around to get a feel of what you’re like, so this is definitely something worth considering.
5. Be Proactive And Get Things Done
Of all of our job application tips, this is the easiest to do. It doesn’t require any hard work. All it requires is a change of attitude and it’s something you can get working on instantly.
From time to time, employers will want you to complete an assessment of some kind. A really good habit to get into is doing them as soon as you can. As a recovering serial procrastinator, I understand that this may seem like an outrageous notion, but hear me out.
First and foremost, by getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible, you’re putting out a fantastic image of yourself. Employers will look at you as a ‘doer’, which is always a good thing.
But, as well as this, from a more selfish standpoint, it will mean that the recruitment process can move along quicker, meaning you will find out if you’ve been successful or not sooner.
6. Be Honest About Your Strengths And Weaknesses
This is something I felt was well worth featuring on our list of job application tips as it’s something that people often get wrong. Understandably, when you’re trying to wow an employer, you would think that they want you to be good at everything.
However, that isn’t true. And in all honesty, nobody is good at everything. So if you’re saying that you are, in fact, good at everything, that will likely mean one of two things:
- You are an anomaly, the likes of which this world has never seen and the person interviewing you should drop everything and offer you whatever you want to get you on board
- You’re telling porkies
It’s actually good to not be good at things, and even better to be aware of it. Do you want to know why? Because if you lack skill or experience in a certain area, you’re aware of this and happy to openly admit it, it shows you are self-aware and honest. It also means that if you say you are really skilled at something, people are more likely to believe you.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing how to do everything, skills can be learned and developed. Be honest and let your genuine skills shine!
7. Prepare For Your Interview Like A Pro
This is technically more in the realms of interview tips, so whether or not this should feature on a list of job application tips, i’m not so sure. But I’m going to put it on here anyway because it’s important.
Once you’ve gone through the process of getting yourself noticed and securing your interview, make sure you’re ready. And I don’t mean thinking up good answers to the general interview questions that you may be asked (although, this is worth doing as well). I mean, show them what you can do for them.
Much in the same way as with your cover letter, the interview is an excellent opportunity to sell yourself and your services to an employer. So if you’re a web developer, take a look at their website. What changes could you make? What results do you expect would occur as a result of these changes?
Write the answers to these questions up on a word document, print them out and take them with you to the interview. Showing the benefits you could bring to a company is a sure-fire way of giving them a better idea of the value you can bring.
Need some help thinking of some fantastic questions to ask at your interview? Learn how to interview the interviewer.
8. Don’t Let Social Media Be Your Downfall
Without sounding like a nagging parent, you need to hear this: employers will look at your social media. There’s no doubt about it, they will check out your online presence to get an idea of what you’re all about (although they really should notify you first).
This leaves you with two options. Either, make sure your accounts are set to private, allowing only those on your friends list to see your content. Or keep your profiles squeaky clean so that, if an employer does look, they will only find the kind of things you would happy for them to see.
Perhaps one of the less exciting job application tips we’ve got for you, but it is essential to bear in mind. So see to it that you do! And while you’re at it, check out our social media cheat sheet for IT job seekers.
And with that, we have come to the end of our 8 job application tips guaranteed to boost your career prospects. Hopefully you’ll be able to put them into action and secure an exciting new role that’s perfect for you.
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