An Idiot's Guide To: Applying for a Job. 9 September 2011 10 basic rules to getting your CV on the yes pile

So, The Corner Shop is recruiting (again). It’s an entry level position which means there are a lot of applicants, and I mean a lot.  

The pile of covering letters and CVs has been rising steadily and the deadline has finally arrived (how many more to come between 9am and 5pm today I wonder?), so yesterday evening I sat at my desk, took a deep breath and got my red pen out.

Several hours later, exhausted and slightly depressed, I reflected on the mixed emotions that we go through when reading one sales pitch after another; and more than anything else I wonder how some people ever stand a chance of getting a job when often there appears to be little thought at all going into what they submit. I’ve had enough and it’s time to speak out.

10 basic rules for getting your job application shortlisted for interview:

1. Get the title of the job you are applying for right.
2. Get the name of the company you are hoping will employ you right.
3. Get both of the above right throughout your letter (ie in your cutting and pasting, make sure you don’t close your missive with ‘I want to work at the V&A more than anywhere else in the world' if you are applying to the British Museum).
4. Use the spell check and then (because American spellings = anathema) check again. Saying you have an amazing attention to ‘detale’ is completely unacceptable and you will be labelled a fraud.
5. Keep it short and to the point, whilst we are big fans of letter writing – 3 pages in 7 point is strictly for pen pals, family and ex lovers.
6. The same goes for your CV. I’ve been in this business for over 20 years and mine is less than 2 pages long. Size definitely does not matter.
7. Start with what’s most relevant. If you highlight something that will tick a mental box in your reader's mind at the outset, they might just read on. If you don’t they will get bored and possibly fall asleep.
8. Be enthusiastic – difficult in a CV but the letter is your big chance to illustrate a desire for the job as well as your compatibility with it. Answering the question ‘Do you want this job?’ is actually quite important.
9. Have a personality – so many job applications are exactly the same, good communication is all about attracting attention and engaging people so do try not to be too generic. Answering the question ‘Why should we want to meet you?’ is a good idea.
10. Don’t try to be funny, and even if someone else has told you differently, gimmicks are an abomination. It’s not a laughing matter. That comes later when you actually work here.

Right then, that might help to get you to stage 2 (see future BLOG: An Idiot's Guide To: Job Interviews, coming soon), and then it’s entirely down to you. And finally guys and gals, if you do get an interview, please don’t wear a top cut so low that we can see your navel, it’s distracting.

Bonne chance. Until next time.

Clair Chamberlain

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