Tips for applying for jobs, writing a resume and cover letter, and preparing for a job interview.
Before you apply for jobs
- understand your career goal. Being informed and knowledgeable about what you want to do makes you attractive to potential employers
- prepare your resume and proof read it
- get an email account so you can send and receive emails about your application
- make sure you have copies of all your documents (resume, referee details, school certificates, qualification certificates, skill certificates and awards)
- try to find out as much as you can about any position and the workplace before you apply.
Write your resume
A resume is a summary of your work and education. You use it to promote yourself as the best candidate for a job.
Basic rules for writing a resume
- make your resume relevant to the position you are applying for. Update your resume for every job application.
- your resume should contain your personal details and contact information, past work experience, education, the names and contact details of your referees and details about your special skills and achievements.
- you may also want to include information about your interests and activities outside of work to give employers a wider view of you.
Employers look for the best person for the job which usually means they are looking at “employability skills” such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organisation, self-management, learning and technology.
Write your cover letter
Your cover letter is more than just a quick note. It:
- introduces you to the employer
- highlights the key information you want people to read in your resume
- tells the employer why they should consider employing you, based on your skills and experience
- shows the employer that you know about their organisation and how you match their requirements
- invites the employer to read further to find out more.
Basic rules for writing cover letters
- always send a cover letter with your resume, unless instructed not to.
- keep it brief – no more than one page. Include only key information.
- show how you meet the criteria for the job. This could be through your personal strengths, skills and abilities, work experience or academic results.
- talk about the key skills and requirements of the job description.
- use your resume to back up and expand upon key points in your cover letter – work on both documents at the same time.
- address your letter to a real person (not “to whom it may concern”). Make a phone call to find out the correct name.
- show that you are enthusiastic and positive about the role.
Highlight the skills you bring to the role
Employers look for skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative, planning and organisation, self management, learning, and technology. Highlight examples of these things from your past experience.
Applying for jobs online
Many positions are advertised online, and ask you to apply by email or through a website.
Tips for applying for jobs online
- send a cover letter and a resume unless advised not to
- set up an appropriate email address. A fun email address is fine for friends but might not be so attractive to a potential employer. For example firstname.lastname@example.org is more professional and suited to job hunting than email@example.com
- set up a professional profile on LinkedIn and remember to carefully create your online presence. Don’t post anything that you wouldn't want a potential employer to see or that might harm your application. Look at how other people in the same industry present themselves online.
Find examples of resumes and other ideas on applying for jobs at jobaccess.