There are so many examples of CVs and cover letters online, and so many “dos” and “don’ts” in the job application process. Everyone has a different style or a new comment to make, and it’s hard to know if you’re heading in the right direction. In this article, our Application Adviser Humarrah Sheikh discusses when a good application is good enough!
You’ll know that it’s good enough to send if you can tick-off these three boxes:
- Is it user-friendly?
- Is it tailored?
- Is it evidence-based?
So, let’s break this down.
Is it clearly formatted and laid out? Is it easy to read? There needs to be a balance between white space and text. If you’re not sure, do the arm’s length test. Hold it out in front of you and assess whether the sections are clear; are there any big blocks of text, are there any large empty spaces, is it easy to follow?
Your application, whether it’s a CV, cover letter, or a series of questions should be easy for the employer to read.
Remember: Employers often skim through applications in the first run. Make sure you’re including the most relevant bits of information at the top and keeping it concise.
By this we mean, tailoring your application to the job description. Most job descriptions will include a list of “personal specifications” or “requirements” that the candidate must address. It’s important to use this like a checklist and make sure that you mention all the requirements (or as many as you can). You’re not always expected to meet ALL the requirements but go back and make sure you address as many as possible. Don’t be afraid to use the same words/phrases that are in the job description. Just be mindful of what some descriptions are asking for in terms of “essential” and “desired” requirements/qualifications.
Remember: Show off your KASE – Knowledge, Attributes, Skills and Experience.
Show off the best bits of what you have and show that you not only did these things, you did them well. So make sure to add in quantitative and/or qualitative outcomes of your work. Do you have any grades for your modules or course? Can you add in any numbers or evidence of positive outcomes?
For example, if you worked in a Society and increased membership, how much by? 10%? 20%?
If you handled any budgets, how much? If you worked with groups of people, how many? Did you receive positive feedback from your supervisor? Were you promoted? Did you receive ‘Employee of the Month’?
You might not be able to do this for every work experience but show off some positive results and be specific in your descriptions.
Remember: when answering situation-based questions use the STAR technique.
Briefly explain the Situation and set the scene, explain the Task at hand, explain what Actions YOU took and finally outline the Result of this
If your CV or cover letter is well formatted and user-friendly, if you have ticked off that checklist of requirements and tailored it to the job description, if you have provided evidence and outcomes of your work then… it’s ready to send!
You can book an Application Advice appointment to get further help – just log on to King’s CareerConnect and book a same-day appointment!