As the HR Manager at Coeo, I see so many missed opportunities for applicants to make a good impression when applying for a job. I have received CVs tailored to a different role; CVs that are not current or have gaps between jobs with no explanation; applicants who have not included a cover letter when asked to do so and basic spelling mistakes! I don’t know if this is down to inexperience, shoddiness or apathy. Assuming it is down to inexperience, here are a few tips that may help when applying for a new job.
One size rarely fits all! Tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. It shouldn't read like the job description for your current role. Make it more relevant by weaving in examples of what you've done that correspond with the requirements for this role. Ensure all sections are up to date and there are no unexplained gaps between jobs. Ask someone else to proof read it.
Providing a cover letter is an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from the other candidates by expanding on a few of your achievements and for getting across your personality. Think of it as a way to introduce yourself. Anticipate what they may want to know about you. I'm always interested in the applicant’s story and how they came to be where they are today.
Preparing for interview
Being well prepared will help you get your thoughts in order and make you feel more confident.
- Do some research on the company so that you are familiar with who they are and what they do; any awards or recent successes, and why you want to work there
- Check out the location and how long it will take to get there; do a trial run if necessary
- Plan what you are going to wear so that you feel confident and comfortable
- Plan to arrive with a little time to spare in case there are any holdups
- Recall some of your best examples of how you meet the requirements for the role and what you will bring to the company
- Make a list of some things you would like to know about the role and the company to help you decide if this is place where you can do your best work
I find the best interviews are like conversations with friends; they flow naturally but they'll have a structure to elicit the information that's needed to match the candidate to the role.
Questions will normally be designed to get to know you as a person as well as giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and experience for the role. Don’t think of it as an exam requiring perfect answers; talk from the heart. You’ll be talking about yourself so relax, no one will know more about that than you!
Interviews usually last around 45-60 minutes, so time is limited and there's a lot to cover. Demonstrate your communication and time management skills by listening carefully to the questions, and being concise in your answers. If they want to know more, they'll ask. Don’t be afraid to ask for a question to be repeated or ask for clarification if you’re not quite sure what they're asking for. Above all, be yourself!