Applying for your first job can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start, and with so much at stake, it’s easy to feel defeated before you have even started. One of the most popular questions that young people ask about careers and employment is ‘how can I write a successful job application’. The truth is applying for jobs is like most things; practice makes perfect. The more you get used to writing about yourself and your skills, the easier it will become.
Try to remember that the first time you fill out a lengthy job application will be the hardest. Make sure to save a copy of it, and then you can keep returning to those answers every time you need to make an application. You will need to make sure each application is specific to that role and employer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use some of the answers you used in previous applications.
If a company asks for a CV or Cover letter instead of, or as well as an application form, visit our document library for guides and advice.
Five tips for your first job application
Research the company
Before writing a job application, the first thing you should do is to research the company or organisation you are applying for thoroughly. Not only do you want to show them that you know exactly who they are and the work they do, but also you want to make sure that the role is right for you. Have a read through their website, check out any social media they have and generally get to know the field they work in. This knowledge will shine through your application.
Check the job details
It can be easy to simply focus on the job description and responsibilities and forget to look at the fine print. When applying for jobs, you must make sure the hours, salary and location work for you before applying. Many job applications also give details about when the interviews are and when the job begins; check your schedule for these dates before committing to applying.
Turn your experiences into skills
As this is your first job, you may not have much direct employment experience. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have experience in the skills you will be using in the job. Think about everything you did at school and university outside of your classes; all of these activities will have developed vital soft skills. Think about sports clubs, work experience, part-time jobs, creative projects, personal hobbies and anything else you have done which shows commitment and dedication.
Use the information they have given you
The easiest way to ensure you are putting the right things into your application is by reading the information they have given you. Take the language they use on the job description and put it into your examples and answers. Using their language and signposting them to meet each criterion makes it easier for an employer to see how you fit the role. Don’t be afraid to work down the job description point by point, which is often encouraged.
Check your spelling and grammar, and then check again!
Ensuring there are absolutely no spelling or grammar mistakes on your application is an easy way to show you have excellent attention to detail and provide something to the highest standard. If there are many applicants, a small spelling mistake may be the difference between two people getting the job. You can also ask someone else to read over it for a second opinion.
If you need more support finding your first job, have a look at our blog on finding a career.