A great way to start your careers search is to visit National Careers Service
Whether you’re looking for your first job or wanting to change career, there are a number of things you can do that can help you make the best decision. Firstly, get to know yoursel: your strengths, values, interests and ambitions. Next, do your research on your chosen job. Make sure you know as much as you can about what the job’s really like and if it’s the right job for you.
If you are looking for an Apprenticeship – contact the recruitment team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please ensure you keep checking our website and the National ‘Find an Apprenticeship’ website to see the current Apprenticeship vacancies that are available.
Your CV is often how you make a first impression on an employer. It needs to put across the right message, have the right presentation, and have no mistakes. Here are some ways to make your CV stand out for all the right reasons.
1) List achievements, not duties:
Your CV should sell your achievements as an individual. Phrases like ‘responsible for ordering stock’ can make your CV read like a job description. Instead, describe what you did and what the positive outcome was, like, ‘by closely monitoring sales trends and stock levels, I reduced out of stock instances by 21%’. Using ‘active’ language instead of ‘passive’ language makes your CV sound more dynamic. An example is changing ‘involved in the promotion of the company at industry events…’ to ‘I promoted the company at industry events…’ This makes you sound like a ‘doer’, rather than someone who was just ‘involved’.
2) Tailor your CV:
Avoid sending out the same CV to hundreds of employers. Mass mailshots are too general and unfocused – and employers can spot them. Instead, tailor your CV to sell your most relevant skills. Consider what skills the employer might be looking for, and highlight your most relevant experience. For example, if you’ve got experience in retail and care work, and you’re applying for a job in a shop, make sure your retail experience is easier to see on your CV than the care experience.
3) Avoid typing errors, poor spelling and grammar mistakes:
Mistakes can make it seem like you haven’t put the time in, or you don’t think details are important. A tidy, mistake-free CV shows you’re professional, thorough and care about how you come across. It’s a good idea to have your CV checked by someone whose English is good, even if yours is good too. Spellcheckers can miss things, like the difference between ‘ceiling’ and ‘sealing’.
4) Make it easy to read and look good:
Don’t include so much information that it makes your CV looks cluttered. Avoid long paragraphs with very little white space. Bullet pointed lists and short sentences make your CV easier to read and easier for recruiters to scan for key points. You don’t need to print your CV on bright coloured paper or over a picture. A ‘daring’ visual approach is only really suitable for creative jobs. Also, don’t mix up your fonts for visual effect because it can look messy and disorganised.
5) The right length:
The rule of thumb is that a CV should be no more than 2 pages long. If you’ve a lot of relevant experience at a high level, however, you can go over 2 pages. If you’re just starting out in your career, 1 page is fine. If your CV goes back a long way into your work history, make sure the information is relevant to the job you’re applying for. A Saturday job you had 20 years ago probably isn’t relevant.
An interview is a discussion in person, by phone or online, between you and an employer. The employer wants to see if you’re the right person for the job. You’ll get the chance to make a good impression and show the employer what you have to offer. You can also see if the job is one you want.
Before the Interview:
- think about which areas of your CV or application form the interviewer might ask you to talk more about, and how you can relate them to the role
- prepare some answers about why you want the job, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and your relevant work and life experience
- think of some questions to ask about the role and the company at the end of the interview, but don’t ask about pay yet
- try to relax the night before the interview – doing lots of last minute work could make you more anxious and reduce your sleep time
What to wear:
- plan what you’re going to wear before the day of the interview
- find out what the company’s dress code is and wear clothes that suit the company that’s interviewing you
- don’t wear clothes that you’re uncomfortable in, or shoes that you’ll struggle to walk in
- don’t wear too much strong perfume or aftershave
Check in advance how to get to the interview venue, and how long it’ll take. On interview day make sure you leave plenty of time to get there and aim to arrive a little early.
Just before the interview starts:
- make sure your phone’s turned off
- ask for water if you haven’t already been given some
- don’t let your nerves show too much – use breathing techniques and try to remember a few nerves are normal
During the interview
- take your time when thinking of your answer – it’s fine to say you need a moment to think
- look alert and attentive, speak clearly and confidently, and don’t swear or use slang
- give full answers, don’t just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’
- give examples of when you’ve used the skills they’re asking for
- if you’re asked about your experience, talk about the Situation you were in, the Task in front of you, the Action you took, and the Result of your action (STAR technique)
- be positive about your experiences – avoid negativity about yourself or any previous roles you’ve had
- make sure you fully understand the questions you’re asked – ask for more explanation if you need to
avoid mentioning salary or company benefits unless asked
- don’t lie – the interviewer may see through you and, even if you get the job, your employer can dismiss you if they find out you’ve been dishonest
- if you’re asked about a work skill you don’t have, you could say what you’d do in a certain situation or use an example from your personal life, and also explain that you’re a fast learner
- don’t be arrogant and assume you’ve got the job – employers don’t like disrespectful or over-confident candidates
- don’t bring up topics like religion or politics where people can have strongly-held personal beliefs
- if you’re asked about being made redundant from your previous job, try to stress it was a business decision and describe how you’ve responded positively since.
- if you were fired for misconduct or poor performance, try to explain why your standards dropped on that occasion but that you have learnt from it and have since improved.
- if you’ve been out of work for a long time and get asked about it, describe any positive steps you’ve taken such as voluntary work, courses, networking, industry events, keeping fit, community roles, keeping yourself up to date with your field.
- if you left your last job by choice and are asked about it, you could make it clear you were grateful for the opportunity and learnt a lot, but you wanted a fresh challenge.
After the interview:
- if you’re offered the job, thank them and agree things like start date and what to bring on the first day
- if you’re expected to negotiate salary, find out beforehand what the usual rate is for the job but then start high and meet in the middle if necessary
- ask for feedback on your performance – if you weren’t successful use their comments to improve for next time
- if you’re offered a job and decide you don’t want it, thank the employer politely, as you may want to work for them in future