With the job market incredibly over-crowded, it can be tough to make your CV stand out from the rest. So we spoke to Natalie Lester, an in-house HR Adminstrator for a Recruitment team, to ask her advice on how to create the perfect job application.
What Do You Look For in a CV?
This depends upon the position. I would advise that before applying for any position you look at the job description and person specification to check that the role is within your capabilities and is something that you can envisage yourself doing. Always adapt your CV to highlight the relevant work experience. For example, when I applied for a role as an HR Administrator in Recruitment I adapted my CV so that I talked about what I did as a manager but from an HR recruitment perspective. If I was applying for a management position I would highlight the areas of my management career that fit into what the employer is looking for.
I also think you should write a cover letter explaining why you are interested in this position and what you feel you can bring to the role and team (if it is a team role). I know as a Recruiter that managers and my recruitment colleagues will not always read a cover letter, but I also know that the reason I got an interview for my current job was because the manager read my cover letter and was interested enough to call me to get a clearer understanding of what I was looking for. So it could be the difference between getting an interview or not.
As a rule I would say that sending speculative CVs into big organisations is not very productive as most companies would expect candidates to check their website to see what positions they have open. Sending in a speculative application, if you know a company does not have a role open that you could apply for, is more understandable but always write a clear cover letter explaining that you know from checking their website that there are no positions available in that particular area but you would like to be considered if there is an opening.
Also check if the company has an alert system as many do now so you can create an account and set up email alerts when a new role that you would be interested in becomes available. Employers get a lot of applications – you need to make yourself stand out without wasting their time.
What Can Make a Candidate Stand Out During the Application Process?
Think about what your main skills are. If you are particularly well organised and enjoy contact with customers – internal and external – try to think about examples of these in preparation for interview and for highlighting on your CV.
Always complete applications correctly following the companies guidance, ensure you spell check and ask someone you know to check over your CV (which ideally is no longer than 2 pages). I am often surprised at the bad spelling in candidates’ CV – especially for administrative roles. There are computer packages to help you so use them!
Some candidates have started adding photographs to their applications/CVs and although this can look good, this is not necessary and would not make any difference to whether you get an interview or not.
What Three Things Do You Want to See in a Candidate in Order For You to Hire Them?
When I was hiring for Data Administrators I would look for a willingness to learn and to work with a team. Accuracy in data entry – therefore it was essential to have a well put together CV. The ability to Multi task.
When reviewing CVs and application forms for managers it always depends upon the role but a few tips I would give anyone are to always complete the application form – even when it feels like you are repeating what is already in your CV.
Write a cover letter especially when you have not worked in that industry before. Explain why you want to work in it and although you may not have skills within the industry think of examples which you can transfer e.g. I haven’t worked in a call centre dealing with customer complaints before – but I have worked in a busy restaurant as a waitress and have had to deal with customers who complained. Explain how you have/would deal with situations.
Make sure you amend your CV to fit the role you are applying for – highlighting areas that relate.