For better or for worse, here at Enternships HQ we’re privy to a lot of conversations around The Best Way To Apply For A Job. In a way, we like to think of ourselves as glorious employment spies, except that we’re rubbish at keeping what we learn secret, and our clothes are more colourful. With this in mind, we wanted to create a question check-list for our candidates, so that you can be sure every application you submit is face-explodingly brilliant.
We’re not going to waste your time by reminding you to spell your name correctly, or making sure you’ve actually attached your documents (though, you know, probably do do both of those things). This isn’t about creating an acceptable application. It’s about taking your application into Megazord territory. Which is why the first question you should always ask is ‘Does this application feature the word Megazord?” But anyway. Let’s get started.
5. Do I really show that I know this company?
And by knowledge, we don’t mean Copy And Pasting The Name Of It into the gap in your cover letter that reads “I’m really passionate about the sorts of services XXXXXX provides” – as cunning as you might think you are, I can promise you that you are spectacularly uncunning. Unfortunately, companies can always – trust us, always – tell when candidates have really done their research, and have identified their prospective employer’s USP, central brand message and positioning in the market. Feel free to use all of those words, by the way. Every little helps.
4. Do I sound excited?
For many a candidate, getting across their potential usefulness to a company is so important, that often they forget to sounds excited by the prospect. All teams – and especially smaller, more creative ones – want people who cannot wait to get started making their ideas come to life. They want to see the same passion in their employees that they feel for their service and/or product – otherwise, what’s the point? You can build what you can bring to the team, your ideas and your experience into this enthusiasm, but feeling passion for the role can’t seem like a bolt-on, it needs to permeate the whole of your application.
3. Have I been specific?
Go through your cover letter and your CV with a darkened, cruel eye. Any sentence that begins with a generalised statement about yourself (‘I am a great leader’, for example) and doesn’t end with specified proof of that statement (‘I led my country to victorious war in 1768’ for a fairly unlikely example) needs to be cut. You are not a collection of personality traits, you are the things you have actually done. Don’t be afraid to get specific – talk numbers, fact and figures, it will spark the imagination of your employer, build you as an individual, and make you sound like someone to reckon with.
2. Have I told them what I want?
Again, this comes back to the knee-jerk desire to prove your worth to them no matter what – but it’s not just a one way street. This application – and your cover letter in particular – is a chance for you to explain (and possibly even gently remind) your employer that this has to be a good fit for you as well as them. That’s not to say you have to be a diva about it (probably not something we’d recommend), but it’s a nice touch to mould their job description around where you see your career going next. Are they offering specific training? Explain why you want it. Can you see the avenues for development? Tell them why it’s a direction you’re interested in. Let them know that you’re not just firing an application desperately at them, but that you’ve thought hard about why this is the best position for you.
1. Is this the best possible way to say it?
Lots of people apply for jobs. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true. You get a very small window of time where your potential employer is entirely focussed on you – every sentence you write has to shine. Don’t be lazy, don’t waste precious words on vague industry-speak, and don’t say the same thing twice. Be hard on yourself. Cut. Don’t sound like an applicant, sound exactly like you – but you at your most confident best. You’ll know when your application is at a point where it will stand out; when you’re proud of it as a piece work -nay, of art – it’s time to send it off.
Bonus question: Can I be bothered to do all this?
One that will haunt every application you write. If you want to find the right place for you; the place that will develop you, challenge you, and fit you and your talents, the answer has to be yes. Very best of luck.
By Natasha Hodgson
Enternships Community Manager