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Back to Basics – Five Job Search Tips to Get Right

After a long (somewhat frustrating!) week trying to get in touch with candidates who’ve applied for a variety of apprenticeship or traineeship opportunities, I decided it might be time to write a little refresher article to take things right back to basics!

Here are my top five tips to get your applications right from the start:


1. Read the FULL job description

I mainly recruit in the apprenticeship and traineeship sector, for a variety of roles. I discuss each role individually with the employer and ensure that when I advertise, it’s obvious what the opportunity is and what the employer is looking for in a successful candidate.

Alongside I specify what the educational requirements are, and the location of the opportunity – standard information that any candidate would need to make an informed decision before deciding to apply.
So imagine how frustrating it is to receive numerous applications from candidates who have clearly not read through any of the qualifying criteria. Nothing is more time consuming than having to read through CVs of applicants who aren’t eligible, or phoning candidates who haven’t checked the job location. I know how easy it can be to ‘one click apply’ on many of these sites but please make sure you read through the full advert before getting click happy.

2. Prepare a Cover Letter

I received a cover letter for one of my roles today that simply said ‘I want to do this role.’ ...
A good cover letter will always set you apart from other applicants. Even if when applying it doesn’t specifically request one, a quick paragraph or two highlighting why you want the job and reasons for applying will support your application.

Make sure you set out a professional lay out when writing, starting a standard greeting, an introduction, and then your reasons for applying. Finish with a professional expression of interest and your name.

3. Check your Contact Details

I can’t stress this point enough! The number of times I’ve received a CV and it either doesn’t have a contact number on, the number has incorrect digits (too long or too short) or the number doesn’t work full stop.

Before you even think about applying make sure all your contact details are up to date, correct and appropriate. Check your email address – it should be professional and easy to read (no weird and wonderful nicknames from when you were 15). Provide an alternative contact number – a home landline if you have one.

4. Telephone Etiquette

Once you’ve gone to all that effort to make sure your contact details are up to date, don’t let yourself down when you finally receive a call. You will be more than aware that if you are actively applying for work, you are going to start receiving calls from unknown and private numbers. I know that these days we all get those annoying unsolicited calls, but it’s better to answer your phone and get the call from the employer rather than ignore it – or worse – hang up on them after one phone ring!

Make sure when you do answer the phone it’s with a professional greeting, even if you think it might be a sales call, there’s every chance it’s a potential employer so answering with an aggressive ‘What?’ or total silence to see if the caller answers first, won’t come across as professional or inviting to the your potential new boss at the end of the line.

And one more thing – check your voicemail message! At one point we’ve all had the pretend answer voicemail (you know the one, where you pretend to the answer phone, saying hello repeatedly until laughing and telling the caller it’s actually your voicemail). We’ve all found it funny – the first time. Make sure you leave a professional sounding greeting on your voicemail – make sure it’s recorded in a quiet space and is nice and clear.

5. Follow Up

If you receive a missed call, an email or a text – make sure you follow up! The biggest complaint I hear from applicants is that they don’t hear back – I know that this is a common thing in todays job market but is it a case of you haven’t heard back or you haven’t followed up on contact?
Be proactive in following up on applications – make sure you make a note of what you’ve applied for, closing dates and a possible contact so you can make contact if you don’t hear. I put my contact details on all my adverts and welcome calls from applicants – new or otherwise – following up on their applications or asking what information to include on their CV.

Don’t let your job search fall short when you’ve just begun! The job market today can be tricky to navigate and from the work I do with young people, I know the advice the majority of them receive isn’t always in line with modern recruitment practices.

Remember – if you’re not getting anywhere with your job search activities – Stop, Review and Refresh! Take it right back to basics if you need to :)

photo by: erin

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