Creating a job application can be a long process but it is essential to get it right in order to grab the attention of the employer. Every hiring manager is different so it can be hard to know what is going to impress, however there are some fundamental things that shouldn't be forgotten. I have put together 10 tips to keep in mind when applying for a job and also spoken to some of our industry experts who have shared their thoughts on what makes a job application stand out, with some examples of impressive applications.
Jodie Groves, group recruitment manager at Bonnier Publishing: “Every candidate should consider the design and format of their CV. I always like to a see a small burst of colour and choose a clean, sleek font for a more polished look. I’d recommend writing a covering letter that portrays you! Not your experience or qualifications (that’s on your CV), but you as a person: your likes, dislikes, how you like your tea, something we don’t know about you. For us, this is your opportunity to show off your personality! Publishing is such a competitive industry, it really helps to be creative, different and step out of your comfort zone.
“One candidate went above and beyond our expectations with a video CV, filmed in the heart of London. She really blew us away with her creativity and sheer confidence; “You should hire me because I am the best at what I do…”, “I’m the only person for this job because…”. Her message was clear and she addressed every point in the job advertisement, demonstrating she knew what the role involved. This mirrored our culture and perfectly portrayed the values we live and breathe at Bonnier Publishing. “
Selina Begum, head of resourcing UK at Springer Nature: “I’m always on the lookout for candidates who can show real interest for why they want the role, show that you want to work for us! Sell yourself, have some strong reasons on why you’re the best candidate and what you can bring to our businesses. I love seeing achievements in an application, they really help you stand out against other candidates. Lastly, check your spelling and grammar, how you present yourself at this early stage is an indication to the reader on how you may perform in the role.”
Jessica Harris, HR manager and Alexandra Moodie, human resources coordinator at Simon & Schuster: “The most interesting CV we received in publishing was from an applicant who presented their CV in the form of a short story book, it was just a fun and interesting means to take you on a journey of the background and career.”
Cassie Leung, resourcing advisor at Penguin Random House: “I personally really appreciate it when a person’s CV is like a showcase of their accomplishments rather than a list of their duties - how they personally affected a role by being in it.”
Ama Crisp, HR advisor, Hachette - ‘Your Cover Letter is the most important part of your application. It is the main way for us to see your passion, skills and suitability for the role. Make sure you put all of your skills and experience in, and not just those things that you think are relevant. Go through the ads, see what they are looking for and address it, preferably in order – if you’ve done jobs in shops or potato factories, put them in – it shows that you’re not above graft, and you’re reliable, it’s also something that sets you apart from the competition.’
Here are 10 tips for you to keep in mind:
- Include a short profile at the beginning of your CV to introduce who you are and why you want the job. Keep it concise and relevant to the role that you are applying for.
- Tailor your CV and cover letter to each application. Make sure it is clear how your skills and experience can be applied to the role and its requirements. Use keywords that are mentioned in the job description as guide.
- It is important that your CV has an engaging layout and is presented neatly. A pop of colour, bullet points, spacing and a chronological order will ensure that it is easy to follow. When appropriate, be creative!
- Try to avoid endless lists and long paragraphs. An overwhelming amount of text can be off putting. Each point made needs to tell the reader why you are the best person for the role.
- Give examples of what you have personally achieved in previous roles, at school/university or during out of work activities, demonstrating how you have made a difference.
- If you have any numbers or stats that you can include, add them in and explain how you achieved them. It will add another dimension to your application.
- You will usually be asked to provide a CV and cover letter. Let your personality shine throughout the application but make sure that you are not repeating the same information in both.
- Check your spelling, grammar, punctuation and choice of words carefully. Get someone else to read it for you as it can be hard to spot your own errors.
- Show a genuine interest and knowledge for the company and department that you are applying for. Demonstrate how you can contribute to the business and their success.
- Think about who you are going to use as your references. Two is usually standard. Ask them in advance if they are happy to provide a reference for you so they are prepared when contacted.
- My Job in 5: Ross Taylor, Head of business analysis at Igloo Books
- My Job in 5: Vicki Clarke, Information assistant (graduate trainee), Kingston College
- My Job in 5: Clara Nelson, head of publicity, marketing and online, Michael O'Mara Books
- My Job in 5: Sarah O'Halloran, Literary Agent, Madeleine Milburn Agency
- My Job in 5: Keara Donnachie, Marketing and publicity, Sandstone Press