Job application, where do I start? Orientation
Before you are going to apply for a job you should orientate yourself. With out orientation on the things which are important to you when looking for work, it will be harder to make good decisions and prepare yourself optimally for a job interview. Take your time to consider what type of work you are looking for. For instance think about what you are interested in, what type of work fits your education or diploma’s, which steps you are planning to make in your career, what do you expect from the new job / new employer and for what type of company would you like to work?
The basis. A good CV
Before you are going to apply on a job you should prepare a good CV. Always make sure that for every application your CV is up to date and adjusted to the needs of the job position. Important basic rules for a good CV: make use of short and powerful language and put emphasis on relevant work experience and education. Have you recently ended studying, then it will not harm you to mention side jobs you occupied during your studies. Check out our example CV’s:
- Example CV Dutch
- Example CV English
- Example CV German
- Example CV French
- Example CV Spanish
Self analysis / CV analysis
Why is your CV the way it is? A nice and plain CV does not always mean it’s a good CV. Ultimately you need the right content in your CV and that it fits to job your applying to. Why did you make certain choices, why did you switch jobs, why did you choose a specific direction or specific type of education, why did you continue or stop certain activities during your career? What did you learn from events in your career and what kind of influence did it have? Be critical to yourself and analyze the who, what, why and when in your career.
To do a self analysis sounds more complicated then it actually is. There exist several simple test which can help you to get started. On the internet you can find a lot of handy tools which can help you to analyse yourself and to improve your self-knowledge. There are free tests and paid tests available. Check out our links and more information about self analysis.
Now you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, qualities, specialties and what you are willing to do to succeed in getting your desired job, you should adjust your CV accordingly. The goal is to make your CV distinctive from all other applicants. A distinctive CV and application letter are the two key ingredients to receive an invitation for a job interview in the first place.
Your application letter / email
Your CV is now up to date and adjusted optimally according to requirements of the job offer. Commonly the next step will be writing an application letter / email. Especially in case of popular job offers in which presumably a high number of applicants will react, a good application letter / email is crucial. Are you a craftsman or specialist and is there scarcity of people in your line of business, then you are in a luxury position that sending your CV can be enough in order to receive an invitation.
Basics with regard to a good application letter / email
- Be flawless in spelling, grammar and sentence structure (being flawless indicates that you are precise and painstaking, sloppy candidates are the first to be filtered out).
- Use a neat and organised layout with a professional letter type.
- Make sure you have a good and logical structure of your application letter, use the outline showed below:
- Address details applicant
- Place and date
- Subject: application „name job offer“
- Motivation / argumentation
- Final paragraph / letter closure
- In case of a classic paper letter, mention your attachments (Attachment: CV)
Check out our example application letters for layout and structure.
- Opening of your application letter: start with a brief and powerful opening in your application letter. Refer to the job offer, where you found it and why you are replying to the job offer.
- Your letter is to convince the reader to invite you. So your letter should contain aspects which matter to the employer:
- Emphasise relevant working experience
- Try to do something with the mission and vision of your potential new employer (try to show in your own words that you think and work in a similar way)
- Emphasise hard requirements which you meet
- Emphasise properties / knowledge you have, which are mentioned as „nice to have“ in the job offer
- In case of little (relevant) experience motivate how you will compensate lack of experience
- In case you don’t have required diploma’s, explain how you compensate that (i.e. with relevant work experience
- In case of possible drawbacks mention why they are acceptable to you (travel time, training / education, time shifts, travel distance, moving etc.)
- Mention your positive characteristics which fit to the job
- Motivate and convince why they should invite you
- Be careful you do not sum up your CV
You have been invited for a job interview
After successfully going through the first phase of the application procedure you will be invited for a job interview. Especially from the applicants‘ point of view this is a possibility to convince the employer they should hire you. There are a number of things you can think of or do in order to increase your chances. We have outlined the most important things:
Preparation of the job interview
On the most essential steps with regard to your job interview is the time and effort you take to prepare yourself. Your preparation can be done on different levels.
- Read the job offer carefully. Pay attention to what the job encompasses, which tasks belong to your responsibilities and which requirements are demanded in the job. In case you find that the job offer does not give sufficient information, already start thinking about questions you can ask in the job interview. This shows a potential employer you have well prepared. Take a good look at what matches your properties, knowledge and experience with regard to the job offer. If you are well aware of that you can mention this in your job interview.
- Try to gain as much information as possible about the company you are applying at.
- What exactly does the company do?
- How large is the organisation? How is the company organised?
- On which markets does the company operate? How are these markets doing?
- Look up the latest news about the company (search company website, social media)
- Other valuable information on Google?
- Who is / are your (job) interviewers?
When making an appointment, try to verify with whom the job interview will be conducted. It often occurs that you will be speaking to two or even three persons. Therefore when making the appointment also ask to whom you will be talking. Write down the names and search on Google and LinkedIn what you can find out about these people and take your advantage.
1. Prepare an opening pitch.
In most cases after sitting down with your interviewers it is common they ask you to tell something about yourself. That is why it is good to prepare an opening pitch in which you tell about yourself. Who are you, where do you come form, which education(s) did you follow and how did you get to the point you are at today (former employers, critical turning points)? Keep in mind what is relevant for the job offer.
2. Be prepared for the questions you can get.
Prepare your self with regard to the kind of questions you can get. Look at our list of frequently asked questions in job interviews and make this part of your preparation. Take a look at what pops up when you search your own name on Google. Take into account what information comes up on Google and social media, employers can find the same (dis)information as anyone else.
3. Think of questions of your own, which you would like to have answered.
It’s always possible that you can’t find all information or answers about what you would like to know. Take at good look at what you want to know and prepare questions you can ask. It is important that you have everything as clear as possible. By asking questions it shows a potential employer that you have put effort in getting to know the company and it shows that you are interested.
4. Practical preparations:
- What are you going to wear?
- Take something to write notes on
- Take a copy of the job offer
- Take a copy of your application letter and CV
- Plan your route (company address, how will you get there? By car, bicycle, public transportation? Which bus, train etc.?)
When you have done and prepared everything on the night before your job interview, you can focus extra on preparation to be as well prepared as possible. Depart to your appointment on time and be sure to have slack in case you get delayed. Don’t do last minute actions with regard to preparation, when something goes wrong it takes time and stressful situations can arise. Go to bed on time. Leaving a good first impression can be done only once and it works best when you leave that impression as a fit, alert and active person.