I have been on both sides of the recruitment fence in my time, either seeking employment, or, a much harder task, trying to find the perfect employee for my employer.
Why oh why can’t they teach the skills in school to help people seek employment. It’s not that hard surely, or is it?
Having had training on employment law in the past I have always ensured that the application process is as straightforward and fair as possible, trust me if you have never been on the recruitment side you have no idea how hard it is for an employer to find the right person.
So how can you ensure that your application stands out from the others? Here are some useful tips, it’s not an exhaustive list, but it is based on experience.
Check your CV and cover letter carefully
You would be amazed how many applications come through filled with spelling mistakes and poor grammar. Sometimes, depending on the role being advertised this can be overlooked, but if you are applying for a position where strong admin skills or a degree of accuracy are required, errors like these will see your application placed on the reject pile. If you can’t get these important documents right then how can your prospective employer trust you to show diligence in the role offered. Just stop for a moment, read it through, does it make sense, is it spelled correctly? Get someone else to check it for you, it is worth it to get this right.
If you have a generic CV then this is your opportunity to relate the job application to your particular skills, take tasks and skills mentioned in the advert and show in your letter how your experience meets these requirements. If someone asks for excel experience does your cv or cover letter say you have it? Don’t make the interviewer guess, chances are the other candidates will have answered this question in their application.
Don’t say you can do something if you can’t
I have lost count of the number of times I have interviewed people who have said they have the skills and experience we have asked for only to find that they either have no skills or are very weak in that area. It got so bad that before making a final decision on candidates I would ask them to carry out a simple test just to show if they had the skills they professed on their application. As an employer I would rather you were honest and said you weren’t familiar with something but would be eager to learn, than to tell me you are an expert when you can barely open the software. You may be laughing but it Is scary how often this has happened.
The other situation I came across is one where needing to hire a receptionist I called each of my chosen candidates to ask them a question about their application, really just wanting to see what their telephone manner was. Needless to say the person who answered their phone as “yeah”, didn’t progress any further in the application process. Is this the voice I want to represent the company? The first person that clients and suppliers will speak to, the first impression my company gives?
Your job application is the first impression that your prospective employer has of you, make an effort, keep it clear and concise, relate it to the position advertised and show that you care by getting it right.