In today’s competitive landscape, a job search can be emotionally draining. You take hours to update your CV and write a tailored cover letter just to hear back your application wasn’t successful. The worst part – you receive no feedback which means you are back to zero with no idea what to improve upon. We’ve all been there. Luckily for you, we’ve put together job application tips that will improve your chances of landing that dream job you’ve been looking for.
STEP 1: Take some time to think
Before applying for any job, take some time to think about yourself. Do you have any future goals or plans? Do you have an idea of who you want to become? What are your overall career aspirations? What are your values?
Asking yourself questions like these helps you narrow down roles and companies that might fit your interests. It is more common than ever for people to switch careers if their values don’t match with the company’s. These values can be, for example, being committed to sustainability or favoring a certain leadership style.
You should also consider what stage of your life you are at. Is it important for you to make more money, find time for your loved ones or is it something else – perhaps studying and improving yourself? Prioritization is everything.
Once you have identified your values and based on that the companies that intrigue you, go ahead and dig a little deeper. Do you know any people that work or have worked there? If you do, you can ask them to tell you more about the company, their role, as well as share some application tips.
And don’t worry if your thoughts or values aren’t clear at the moment. These things come with experience and change all the time. Do whatever feels right at the present moment and go from there.
STEP 2: Tailor your CV
After doing your research and carefully reading the job description and requirements, it is time to apply. This, of course, means handing over your CV and possibly a cover letter.
It can be tempting to send the same resume in bulk to many companies. However, what we advise you to do is to select a maximum of 3-5 companies and tailor your CV to the specific role they are offering.
What should be on your CV
- Relevant experience for the role
The experience you add to your CV should be relevant to the role you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a “Content Writer” role, then emphasize previous experiences where you have had to write content, brainstorm articles etc.
Tasks vs achievements
Also, when talking about your previous experiences, don’t just point out your responsibilities – that doesn’t necessarily mean anything good or bad. Instead, write about your achievements. Use context and numbers to demonstrate your impact. Here’s an example:
Task: “Overseeing content output across all social media channels.”
Achievement: “Achieved 200% growth in followers across all social media channels through constant content creation.”
- Side projects
Including side projects on your CV can be a great way to demonstrate your passions that perhaps aren’t directly related to your everyday work.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to also include failures or things that didn’t work out the way you wanted.
- Year abroad, internships
Have you spent time abroad or gone out of your way to do a summer internship whilst everyone else was enjoying time off? Show your ability to take initiative and excel in new environments.
- Hobbies, interesting fact about you
Adding any interesting hobbies or facts about yourself can be a great opportunity to add personality to your CV.
- Your contact
Provide an email address and/or phone number where a hiring manager can reach you.
Interested in applying to TalentHub? Check out our available roles HERE.
What should NOT be on your CV
The average amount of time a recruiter spends on looking at your CV is 5-7 seconds. It might sound impossible to make a good impression based on such a short amount of time. And sure, it is difficult to sell yourself to someone on a piece of paper. But what you can do to increase your chances of landing an interview is to cut out any irrelevant info on the CV.
Things such as your age, home address, relationship status, sexual orientation are personal to you and should not be added to any resume.
STEP 3: Cover letter is your chance to stand out
Forget the generic “Dear Sir/Madam” cover letters – that’s what everyone does. What you want to do is write a cover letter that the hiring manager will remember. Don’t re-write your experience on your cover letter – you have your CV for that. Instead, describe your motivation for the role and the company – why do you see yourself working there?
Remember, hiring managers aren’t just looking for qualifications, they also want people with the right motivation and mindset. When writing about your motivation, be genuine – people can see through if you are trying to write something together just for the sake of it.
Another thing that can help you stand out is storytelling. How did you hear about the company? What made you want to apply? Maybe you saw an article about the founders that caught your eye. Or maybe you read a blog post about what it’s like to work there. Storytelling can be a great way to create emotion among the reader, making your cover letter stand out.
STEP 4: Be prepared for the interview
The final step is to nail that job interview you have secured. You want to arrive at the interview prepared, so make sure you do a bit of research about the person that is interviewing you. Also, find out the purpose of the interview, whether it’s just a chat about the role, or is it an interview that also includes a technical task.
Once you are at the interview, be prepared to answer some common questions. To note, we don’t think all of these are particularly great interview questions, but many interviewers do ask them:
Tell Me About Yourself. …
How Did You Hear About This Position? …
Why Do You Want to Work at This Company? …
Why Do You Want This Job? …
Why Should We Hire You? …
What Can You Bring to the Company? …
What Are Your Greatest Strengths? …
What Do You Consider to Be Your Weaknesses?
Not only be prepared to answer these questions, but also prepare some questions yourself. Most often at the end of the interview you will be given a chance to ask questions about the role and the company. So, make sure you have prepared some questions to demonstrate your interest in working at the company.
Have a salary expectation (with an explanation)
Another thing you should be able to explain is your salary expectations. When discussing salary, consider your goals and motivation – did you apply for the job to improve your skills, join a mission, get new experiences or are you there just to get paid more?
If you don’t have an idea of what your salary should be, you can rely upon sources such as glassdoor.com or Google to get an overview of the market.
Or if you truly don’t have a salary expectation, you can say that you trust the company to compensate you for your efforts fairly. Just make sure you are on the same page in terms of salary so that neither of you ends up wasting time.