Take an honest look at yourself and ask “is the job really for you?” If it is, then complete your application and follow the response instructions with care. Remember there can be four parts to the application:
- a covering letter
- a response to the person specification
- a CV (or application form)
- an equal opportunities monitoring form
The covering letter – never, ever, a hasty note – is a chance to distinguish yourself. Imagine you have five minutes to impress the key decision maker, to press home what you think they are looking for, why you want the job and what you can bring. Tackle any obvious issues: “You may wonder why…”, and remember to outline any other relevant information: “I can only attend interview on…”.
The person specification (PS) is as important as your CV. It is the document that will show that you have seriously considered the role and it will also give a good indication of whether you are suitable.
The PS can be a separate document, or it can be in the same document as the job description. Generally you will be asked to provide information against each point in the experience section, check this in the applying instructions. If you aren’t sure, call a consultant.
Individually respond to each item of the person specification that you need to. Always give a clear example of success with a quantifiable outcome for each item. One good and relevant example per item is enough.
Don’t get fixated by length, it’s better to give too much detail than not enough, conversely, you’ll win points for being appropriately concise. Generally each bullet point should take about 1/3 to 1/2 of a page. You can use bullet points to shorten your response, but watch out for professional abbreviations that are not in common use. Make no assumptions.
Your task is to convince the person reading your application that you have the experience required, so you will need to provide a response to the person specification that answers each of the bullet points. You can do this by:
- Providing your information one bullet point at a time
- Including actions and achievements with figures if possible. If you were part of a team that increased sales by 30%, how was it done, and what was your role?
- Again, be concise, but include as much information as possible. Don’t say “I managed 50 people”. You might not have been very good, but a reviewer can’t tell from that piece of information. Better would be to write “While managing 50 people I increased sales by 30% in six months by introducing profit based quarterly bonuses”. Now we know what you did, and what the evidence of success was.
Finally, think about the structure of the document. A lot of text in large paragraphs with rambling sentences and key words within sentences in bold will provide the impression that the thinking is unstructured. Have a look at how clear reports are and go on from there.
Your Curriculum Vitae
This is often the first chance you have of selling yourself and your opportunities could soar or plummet on this first step. Carefully consider the information in “How to Get it Wrong”. Make sure that all your dates line up. Have you put the organisation name against each role? Are your current contact details on there? Have you left any gaps?
A CV should always have any evidence of responsibility and/or achievements against each role. This helps the reviewer determine how old and how relevant the achievements are.
The Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form
It is surprising how many people ignore this part of the application, but it is usually the easiest part of the application to complete.
The form is not necessarily a box ticking exercise either, as the information given will help the process.
So, you think you have made a good go about it, but have you? Have a look at how other people have got it horribly wrong.