Searching for a job is never easy. In fact, it can be very stressful. So before you begin you need to be sure that you understand the rules.
Oh, yes – there are rules. Getting the process right the first time can be the difference between you getting the job and being regretted. So, finding your niche in life means knuckling down to be the best you can – and that means following a process carefully step by step, making sure you understand, and respond accurately to, the criteria of your future potential employer.
Get clued up on the seven golden rules
Rule one: Learn to read
Learn to read everything, especially the small print. Be sure you read the instructions with regard to the way each employer wishes you to apply. Because applications will vary, it’s no good blindly sending off each application exactly the same and over and over. You will have to adjust your CV each and every time you send out your CV to ensure you emphasize the matching points you have with the job description. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
Rule two: streamline and focus your CV
Make sure your CV is up to date, concise and easy for the recipient to read. Education plus experience is what will be looked for – how many times you’ve travelled overseas is not of value unless it has given you appropriate experience for the job for which you are applying. A CV should be no more than 3 pages. It does not need to list every action in every job that you’ve ever taken in your life. Learn to cut and sharpen. And set it up in a way that you can adjust it to suit the requirements of the job. This doesn’t mean cheat – but sometimes a prospective employer may need to know if you have the ability to work with people of all ages, and in this instance you can highlight areas of your experience that prove this.
Rule three: make sure you know what you’re applying for
This is key. If an essential on the requirement list is teaching experience, then don’t apply if you have no teaching experience of any kind. The employer has put that requirement there for a reason, so there’s no point in sending off an application that doesn’t contain this vital element. You’re just going to annoy and frustrate your recipient. Make sure your content and experience match as closely as possible to any essentials. Pretending you have more experience in any area than you actually do is the worst thing you can do when applying. It will soon be picked up as false at an interview.
Rule four: sort out your covering letter
Firstly, make sure you ensure that your letter addresses itself to the content of the job. Don’t send out a rote letter that you’ve sent to five other job offerings. Covering letters require thought and adaption to circumstances, just like your CV. A covering letter should be specific to your accomplishments and skills, but also one that addresses the job description properly. It’s a good opportunity to showcase your personality, and how you can contribute effectively to the job.
Rule five: check grammar and spelling
Nothing is worse than the employer receiving a poorly written and presented CV and letter. A poorly written application will be tossed in the bin faster than you can blink. Go through it carefully, and if you can, get a friend or person in editing to read through your work and check for typos, etc, that you may have missed. Making an impression through efficiency of language and approach is important. Don’t use slang or abbreviations or terminology that the recipient may not be familiar with, or explain it properly if you need to. And especially check the spelling of the company name and your contact’s name.
Rule six: complete your application fields as instructed
Fill out all fields as required. By filling out every field, you are not just providing the information required, but you are indicating that you have read and understood the instructions to do so. Don’t short-change yourself when giving your answers because everything that enhances your chances will help you when your application goes through the filtering process, but don’t overload information either. Hone your words until you achieve a good balance.
Rule seven: clean up your social media profile
Yes, employers are hiring online, so the first checkpoint will be how you present yourself online. Make sure your profile is current, and that content is not detrimental to the image you portray in your CV. Viewing your social profile is a quick way for an employer to assess your character, general values and behaviour. It might even be the only thing your employer may really look at before deciding to fully read your covering letter and your CV – and definitely before extending the offer of an interview.
What not to do
Don’t provide the wrong or pointless information
Don’t fill your resume with what you want. Your application should be about what you can offer your employer. Don’t try and include everything about your life history in either your covering letter or CV – your last couple of positions clearly detailing your tasks should be sufficient. You can take a more detailed list to the interview, should you get one.
And don’t go into details about what you like to do after hours. Just mention a couple of activities you have an interest in. The recipient doesn’t have time to read volumes about your private life, and if you try to do this you will make a bad impression. Things to mention might be any extra courses you’ve done or any voluntary work undertaken. You should focus on targeting your application to the criteria of the job, and why you would be a good candidate.
Don’t force a match
This is where your reading skill comes to the fore. Make sure you understand the criteria exactly, and don’t try and force your CV to fit if there’s no way you can truly present the experience required. This point matters. It’s what matters most. If the job calls for maths then don’t push that you did well in arithmetic in Grade Four. It just won’t work.
Use integrity and honesty and analytical skill when applying. The hiring manager is going to take the candidate whose CV matches with the most authenticity. Focus on making a genuine match between yourself and the job as best you can. You may not be able to meet every criteria – but a fair track record in at least 80% of what is being asked for would probably be acceptable.
Don’t slack on your references
Keep references up to date. Use references from people who can verify your track record with regard to the job criteria. A good reference from a friend of the family is not going to do it. You need a reference from someone you’ve worked with, and with whom you have made an impression and shown proven capability. Make sure your contact details for your referees are up to date. Provide no more than three on your resume; if you have more, keep them ready for follow-up should you be granted an interview.
The Online Steps to Success
- Instructions of how to apply are on every portal and every job displayed, so there’s no excuse.
- Online means online, so don’t try and hand deliver your CV, or make pushy phone calls.
- Do not apply for jobs that you don’t qualify for.
- Don’t make vague, tenuous, far-fetched claims to try and match the requirements. Even if you believe your strong interest in a particular subject or line of work will be enough, it is highly unlikely that your employer will.
- Recruitment portals are there to present a connective system between employers and job searchers. They are not there to help you write your CV, pay for your studies, or recommend you. You’re on your own.
- Read, interpret, respond with accuracy and clarity, and check before sending – and your CV will stand a good chance of being favourably received.