Securing your dream job

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To mark National Careers Week we’ve pulled together some top tips for applying for a role

You’ve completed your degree course, obtained relevant work experience and now you are ready to start the career that you have been working so hard to secure.

However, despite knowing that you are more than ready for that dream career, the thought of applying for a job can be daunting.

So, with National Careers Week in full flow, we’ve pulled together our top tips for applying for your first job in your chosen profession.

Research the role

When you find a vacancy that fills you with excitement, it is important to find out as much as you can about the organisation. First and foremost, employers like to know that you are interested in them – not just the position – and demonstrating this in both your application and interview(s) will help you stand out.

This will also give you a better understanding of what working for the company would be like, and if you hold the same values.

Don’t be afraid to contact the company before filling in your application either. Most companies will be more than happy to answer questions about the role in advance as it will help save them time later on in the process.

Tailoring your application

Most applications include many of the same sections. As a result, it is tempting to just ‘copy and paste’ from previous applications. But this is a temptation you should resist.

Your responses to the various sections of the form (which we have outlined below) should demonstrate both your skills and how they apply to that specific role in that specific company. By doing this you are more likely to make the employer want to meet with you, which is ultimately the aim of your application.

So, here are the typical sections of an application form and some tips for tackling them:

  • Personal information – this is the most self-explanatory section. No stress here
  • Educational background – outline your academic achievements, including where and what you studied as well as the qualifications you obtained
  • Work experience – provide an overview of both your paid and voluntary employment history. Give a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements, linking them to the job you are applying for
  • Competency-based questions – in this section highlight to the employer examples of when you've previously demonstrated the skills outlined in the job description. Be specific and don’t waste time talking about skills that aren’t on the job description. There will be time later on in the process to showcase your value-added talents
  • Personal statement – this is basically a well-constructed ‘sales pitch’ that outlines why you are the right person for the job, again referring to the person specification set out in the advert.

Sell yourself

When applying for a job you are basically trying to grab the hiring managers (or panels) attention – give them a reason to want to speak to you in more detail. You really have to sell yourself with a focus on your experience and achievements. When doing this it is critical to explain what the company will gain from hiring you, rather than what you will gain from working for them.

The basics still matter

It might seem like we are stating the obvious here, but make sure you thoroughly check your application for spelling and grammar mistakes. There is no harm in asking a friend or family member to do this for you as well. In a highly competitive job market the basics still matter and you don’t want a simple mistake to undo all your good work.

Making the most of the opportunity

Finally, make the most of the opportunity that applying for a job has to offer – whether your application is successful or not. Make sure you ask for feedback and learn from the experience so that you can use this to your advantage at a later date. Don’t forget there are a million and one reasons that your application might be successful or unsuccessful and finding out why will be to your advantage.

For more information on careers, contact our Careers team: Careers&