Applying for a job

Skills and tips for job applications and CVs.
A young woman sits behind a desk with a computer, grinning and giving two tumbs up

Once you’ve found a job that interests you, it’s time to apply. It’s your chance to make an impression and prove you’re the right person for the job.

 

Job applications

Some employers may still have paper application forms, but most employers like applicants to apply using an online application form, as all information is recorded, collected and stored online. It's also a way of checking that you have good writing and ICT skills.

Crucial: Before applying online, you need a respectable email address that you check regularly, so you can be contacted easily. No silly words or anything rude!

Online application forms have lots of questions which help the company see if you are the right person for the job. Take your time, and include everything relevant. This is your chance to really impress the employer. Always:

  • Set aside plenty of time
  • Have your CV to hand
  • Type your answers in a word processing programme so that you can spell-check, then paste your answers into the form
  • Ask someone to read the completed application for suggestions
  • Save or print a copy to take to the interview

Some systems, like the Apprenticeship Finder, allow you to upload information and use it to apply for multiple jobs. This is helpful, but you should always read through each new application and include information about why you want that particular job.

Crucial: Make sure you only use well-known sites, as some internet criminals target people by offering job opportunities.

Agency websites are interested in skills and expertise, so can be challenging for younger applicants. Make sure you list all your work experience, any languages you can speak, and any software packages you know.

Take Action: Some companies check out future employees on the internet. Set your social networking site privacy settings to friends only and remove any risky content.

Orange Digital Dirt

What if you don't have internet access at home?

Research shows that the most successful young job-seekers are people who:

  • Have access to the internet
  • Run regular searches for jobs
  • Apply early and often to lots of jobs.

If you don't have internet access at home, you need to find a good place where you can access the internet for cheap or free. If you have your own computer, your or your friend's home is the best, because you can take your time and keep what you are doing private.

If you have your own computer, Wi-Fi hotspots allow you to access the internet from a public location like cafes, shopping centres, buses and more. You may find that access is limited or unreliable. Make sure you save your work regularly. Be aware of the need to keep your information private.

If you don't have your own computer you can also get online at a library, Children and Family Centre, or internet café. Public access computers are popular. You may find it difficult to get access for long periods of time. Always make sure you have all your information for applications prepared beforehand.

Crucial: You might be able to fill in an application form using a phone or tablet with 3G/4G data or wifi. But check if the form displays properly on your device before you get started.

CVs

As well as application forms, CVs (Curriculum Vitae) show employers your skills, qualities, education and experience.

Some employers may ask for a CV as part of an online application so it’s useful to write yours so it’s ready if you need it. CVs are also useful when you are looking for an unadvertised job. You can pop into a shop or business you think you could work at and leave a CV for them to read.

CV pointers:

  • Keep it to one or two sides of A4 paper
  • Match your CV to the job description, make sure you put on the relevant interests and skills.
  • When writing, try to use action words to promote yourself.
  • Make sure your spelling and grammar are accurate.
  • Have someone else like a parent, carer, or teacher read it over to check you’ve written things properly and included everything.
  • Keep your CV updated  with qualifications, volunteering, and work placements.
  • Don’t lie about your level of experience, skills or anything else

Take Action: Some people like to show off their design skills when making their CV. Some use a simple CV Builder like this one from Barclays LifeSkills. Even though most jobs require you to apply online, having a CV makes sure you have all your information in one place and ready to be adapted and updated every time you apply for a job.

If you have a criminal record

Employers are legally required not to discriminate against people with a criminal record, but they will need to think about whether any conviction makes you unsuitable for a job. In some career sectors, such as working with children, employers will need to do a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check which will turn up any criminal records you may have.

Specialist support is available to help you take positive steps into education, training or work. These are specialist advice services just for ex-offenders:

Keep on applying

Most people go through a stage when they are making lots of applications, but not getting a job. This can be discouraging, but keep on trying. The right job is out there.

My Experience: I applied for a Business Administration Apprenticeship, which intrigued me as it was something in which I had no previous experience. I applied and was then asked to sit some basic Maths and English tests, which were all done within an hour. I passed the tests and was then offered an interview. I then attended the interviews, for which I spent a good few hours practising and preparing for. Thanks to this things went well and I was offered the apprenticeship which I accepted. I had no office experience so doing an admin role seemed slightly daunting, however I have been helped whenever I have needed it. I have been able to pick up key skills in a short space of time, in a friendly yet driven environment. I have been given an array of tasks, to challenge me and to better my progression. There is always something new you can learn, always something that can help you develop as an employee and as a person. I would thoroughly recommend that any person tries to get on an apprenticeship, as they can really benefit you, and you develop skills which are crucial in the working world. Shelley, 21, Oxford

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