AS THOUSANDS of youngsters pick up their exam results many will embark on a quest to start a new course, apprenticeship or job. For those applying for a job for the first time, Jenny Mullins-White, a careers consultant with more than 20 years’ experience, has some top tips to kick start those application.
- 1.If you are looking to see if there are vacancies, you’ll need a great CV. But the same CV will not suit all opportunities so it’s important to tailor each one to the company and opportunity you are interested in. Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. What are they looking for? What skills and experience do you have that will benefit the recruiter? Do you have voluntary work, part time job or work experience to include? Do you need to add IT skills, languages spoken or positions of responsibility? After all, you are trying to persuade them to take you on. Want to know what they are looking for? Check out the website of the organisation for clues.
- 2.If they have a vacancy advertised, look at the person specification. This is the checklist of what they want. It includes what you have to have (essentials) and also what would be great to have (desirables). Focus on what you can do and show you have done your research.
- 3.Want to grab their attention from the outset? Think about using a short profile or career objective after your contact details. It's like an advert and will encourage the reader to read more. First impressions count so start with a professional sounding email address cheekymonkey1996@hotmail isn’t going to create the right image.
- 4.Avoid waffle - the recruiter only has a very short time to read what you’ve written - usually a 20 second scan to start with. So make sure your most relevant information is at the start of your CV or application.
- 5.Language matters too - be positive and use active words such as designed, managed, supported, created and led rather than I did. Avoid never, hardly and can't.
- 6.Use bullet points to make it easier to read - they’ll help focus the reader’s attention on your key experiences and skills. Use Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman font. Aim for a two sided CV.
- 7.Don't be tempted to lie, especially as employers can go back on a job offer if your exam certificates don't match what you've said.
- 8.Check and check again for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and gaps. There are many good books and websites that show different CVs, but make sure you don't copy. You want to be noticed and in a good way. Start with https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk or What Rocks Your World careers book. Finally, read your CV out loud - are you bored? Is it positive? Get friends and family to proofread and give their opinion too.
- 9.Let people know that you are looking for work. Your network is bigger than you think. Put the message out on Facebook and ask people to share your link. Why not increase your network and join LinkedIn? LinkedIn is like a professional person’s Facebook - you create a profile and can link it to your CV and to websites you've created. Recruiters will use keyword searches on LinkedIn to look for people with certain skills, experience and qualifications. Twitter is also a great way to find out who is recruiting, so start following companies and individuals.
- 10.Finally, don’t give up. You may not land the first job you apply for, but starting with a great CV will give you confidence with each application. Who knows what’s around the corner?
Jenny Mullins-White worked as a careers adviser in schools across Stafford for nine years and now works as a careers consultant at the University of Birmingham. She is the author of What Rocks Your World, a careers book for teenagers. Packed with sound advice, it includes tips on working out what you would like to do, perfecting applications and shining at interview. Jenny has free copies up for grabs for one lucky person who follows her on Twitter @whatrocksyou and another for one who likes her What Rocks Your World Facebook page.