Giving a Good Account of Yourself in an Application

If you want your job application to have the best possible chance then you need to match your skills, experience and qualities to those relevant to the job.

Then you can tell employers about how your relevant skills outlined in the job application form, CV and covering letter make you an outstanding candidate.

Start by identifying your core skills, and then consider transferable skills so that you can correlate your experience with the job specification.

Matching the requirements

First analyse the job advertisement, and if you decide to submit an application, then you need to pin down the detail.

Most advertisers provide more detailed guidance to potential applicants such as a detailed job description and a person specification which provides an overview of the key skills, experience, qualifications and qualities sought. The job description and person specification will usually flag up ‘essential' or 'desirable'. Aim to demonstrate that you offer all 'essential' requirements and as many 'desirable' requirements as you can.

Presenting skills and experience

It is all too easy to feel overwhelmed by the question on the application form that may be headed ‘How do your skills and experience meet the criteria in the person specification?' or ‘Further information to support your application’. Think about a variety of sources to draw examples/evidence from including your studies, work history, and life and interests.

The STAR technique

You may have to answer some competency-based questions where you are required to talk about a skill or personality trait and a time when you've used it. So, you could be asked to "describe a time when you've successfully used negotiation skills".

Employers ask competency-based questions to see if you have the skills and personality to make a success of the role. If you can show that you’ve used a skill in the past then you should be able to use it again in the future.

Use the STAR technique so your answers are concise and well structured; this is also useful when preparing for a job interview.

  • Situation - set the scene by describing a situation or problem. Make it relevant to the person specification.
  • Task - outline the task required to solve the issue or problem.
  • Action - explain what you actually did and how and when you did it, the reasons for the choices you made and the key things that you did to address the issue or problem.
  • Result - describe the outcome and the difference it made.

Once you have drafted an application, check it. Read it with a critical eye just as you might approach an essay or project brief. Ensure that spelling and grammar are correct, as a well-constructed application shows off your eye for detail and ability to communicate well.

Posted: Wednesday 22 August 2018


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