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Articles > Work & Training October, 19, 2020

Tips for job applications

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As we roll into application season, OPC member Adela thought it would be helpful to share some tips she’s learnt about how graduates can prepare for the world of CVs, online tests and assessment centres.

Top tips for your job applications journey…

1.Create an excel document to track your applications

Split the sheet into sections for graduate schemes, internships, jobs and part-time work or voluntary experiences. Columns titles can include organisation name; application opening and closing date; application form completed; online tests passed; interview passed etc. You can write down Yes/No if the stage was passed and N/A if the specific stage is not part of the application process.

Extra Tip: Use the filter function for each column to filter out the applications. Highlight the row as green/red once you know the outcome of the application!

On a separate sheet in the same document write down the application process for each role. Check the organisation’s website to find this.

2.Create a column on a separate sheet for STARR answers to competencies

Competencies are essentially hard or soft skills e.g leadership to foreign languages. Each organisation will have a bank of competencies (or ‘values’) on their website that interview questions will relate to.

Extra Tip: Use your CV to reflect on the skills you have gained from past experiences.

On another sheet list down the competencies of each organisation you are applying to.

It can be helpful to simplify the wording of each competency explanation for yourself.

The STARR method which is an acronym for – Situation, Task, Action, Result, and Reflection – is a recommended way of structuring your answer to interview questions.

A breakdown of each component and the percentage they should take up in your responses:

  • Situation – A brief overview of the scenario you were in during your experience. (5%)
  • Task – The mission you had to complete and your position of responsibility within it. (5%)
  • Action – The detailed steps you took to complete it. (30%)
  • Result – The outcome of the task set highlighting successes. (40%)
  • Reflection – The lessons you learnt from the experience and what you may have done differently. This part demonstrates your self-awareness and an eagerness for self-development. (20%)

** these percentages are based on my own experience

Extra Tip: Once you have written your answer/s, highlight each section in a different colour i.e one colour for the sentence/s attaining to the ‘situation’ etc so that it Is easier to read when you look back as reference.

3.Keep a journal

It is useful to journal about your experiences especially after interviews and assessment centres so when you look back you can recall which areas you need to improve on for next time.

Extra Tip: Make sure to always ask for feedback whether you are successful or not. It will show that you are an individual keen on improving!

4.Practise online tests

Organisations are frequently using online assessments to test candidates. The common tests are the Situational Judgement Test (SJT), Numerical Reasoning Test (usually GCSE Maths questions), and Verbal Reasoning Test. These will be listed in the application process section of their website.

At first, it may appear daunting but don’t stress as many online sites allow you to practise these tests for free!

Extra Tip: Do a Youtube search to find videos that outline an approach to these questions and common mistakes candidates make!

Another place to practice Numerical reasoning tests: Wikijob aptitude tests

5.Research a recent major news story in the sector

Recruiters will want you to demonstrate commercial awareness. In other words, they want you to express your understanding of and enthusiasm for the sector you are applying to. One way they may do this is by asking you to tell them about what has been happening in the sector of late. It will then be convenient to do some research about this. This could be a successful event or a challenge that has impacted the organisation. It will be helpful to understand how the event will affect the organisation moving forward.

Extra Tip: Also, research the major competitors of the organisation and how they differ from them!

6.Tailor your CV to a specific job role

This may sound like an obvious tip, but many students overlook this. If you put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter, they have probably gone through hundreds of applications. If your CV does not include experiences that are relevant to the job role then it will most likely be discarded. So, think about which experiences are relevant to the role you are applying for.

Extra Tip: Read through the job role description to understand what skills/experience the role requires!

I hope these tips were useful in helping to begin your journey into the working world. Best of Luck!

We hope you liked reading this article and got some useful points to take through to when you’re completing applications! Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these 🙂

You may also enjoy this article:

The Eisenhower Matrix and why you need it

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  1. danielle

    I think this article was very well written and to the point. I like the use of an acronym which allows readers to remember and process things that they have learnt from this article. I think a section involving communications with a possible future job would be beneficial as many people struggle with what to include in an email/ what to say over the phone in order to impress a possible future boss.

  2. osmar

    I think…that this great help for beginners as I am one and I now feel like a pro though I will definitely learn more in the future

  3. Sarah Smith

    It gets difficult in times like this where money gets spent so quickly without you even noticing, due to the pandemic people tend to spend more on foods, relying on benefits from the government may not be enough to support your entire family hence people start looking for jobs. Due to the pandemic, i has really affected the flexibility of work and therefore, job application and more likely to get rejected if you don’t meet entry requires.. Yup 🙂 I get it ! Just don’t panic, try to research more on the job you’re applying for and make sure you speak about why an employee should employ you. For instance talk about the change you would bring to the company and also include what skills you got such as good communication skills, been polite etc.