Faced with a job advert it is easy to give up, shrug and say I can’t do that I don’t have what they are looking for. It may not even be that clear what they are looking for!
Don’t give up quite so easily – print out that job description, have a good rummage on their website and get yourself a highlighter pen. Now let’s do this…
To make a good application you need to be clear:
- Why you want to do the job? You need to be able to write knowledgeably about it.
- Why you want to work for them? (not a competitor or anyone else just them)
- That you have the skills and experience they are looking for.
Some companies will have a full job advert backed up with further documentation such as person specifications and job description. These are great, they can help you decide if you can do the job and craft a clear and well evidenced application or CV.
Step 1 – deciphering the job description or advert.
Get your highlighter out and identify skills and abilities they are looking for
Step 2 make a list
- Research skills
- Communication skills written & verbal
- Organisation skills
- Accuracy & attention to detail
- IT skills & including social media
- Analytical skills
- Report writing
- Ability to absorb information quickly
Things like administration or marketing are not skills in their own right, there will be a bundle of skills for each task. Unpick the tasks and add and extra skills to your list.
Sometimes it’s not that easy, there may be little information on the role or skills required?
So how can you find out more?
- Look on the company website is there any further information that helps? Graduate profiles, day in the life articles?
- Many job advertisements list a contact to talk to about the role. It’s a really good idea to ring them, it makes you look serious about your application. Have a list of questions prepared but make sure they are not things you could have found out for yourself, do a bit of research first.
- Have you seen similar sounding jobs advertised with other organisations? Do they have clearer information about the role? It may not be the same but it can be informative to see how it compares.
- Use the profiles on the prospects website. They are great for giving a list of typical work activities and skills or aptitudes that you will need to show evidence of on your application.
- Google it – put the job title in a search engine and see what other similar sounding jobs come up, it might give you some clues as to what the role involves.
Step 3 Evidence your skills
Use our skills list to help you think about ways you may have gained skills. Remember you don’t have to have done this job before, you could have gained these skills in other jobs, volunteering, at university or via sports or hobbies.
Employers won’t just take you at your word, you need to show that you are competent by using evidence. Use the CAR model
- CONTEXT – what was the situation?
- ACTION – what did you do?
- RESULT – what impact did you have that shows your competence.
The CAR sandwich has thin bread and a nice thick filling of actions.
Now you are ready to start that job application, remember your CV is only part of the picture, it gives the evidence but not the motivation. So make sure your read our cover letter & application form guides.
If you need help with your application – book an applications advice appointment