Applying for a job
Your job application may be the first point of contact with the employer and it is very important to create a good impression by providing a well-prepared job application.
The most common documents required in a job application are a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a Cover letter. Here we offer simple guidelines to prepare these documents and to additional resources including identification of your skills, advises to prepare yourself for job interviews and guidelines to provide references.
Writing your curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé your résumé is one of the most important tools you have when looking for a job. Your résumé is a short, point-form document that you give to employers to tell them about your work experience, education, and skills. It is your personal brochure to market yourself. It should give your potential employer a quick view of what you can do for them.
What should your résumé include? Four of the most important things your résumé, should include are: Your personal information
- The first thing your employer should see when looking at your résumé is your name. Make sure it is clear, stands out, and is easy to read.
- Your résumé should include your full address, contact phone numbers, and an e-mail address that incorporates your first and last name.
Be sure to include a cover letter with your résumé when you apply for a job. A cover letter is a formal letter that accompanies your résumé. Use it to introduce yourself to potential employers, and to convince them that you’re the right person for the job.
Your cover letter should not simply re-state your résumé - it should offer some new information, and highlight the skills you have that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
The main objectives of your cover letter are to:
- introduce yourself, identify the position you are applying for, and explain how you found out about the position
- explain how you are qualified for the position and why you would be a great fit for the job
- request an interview and thank the employer
Dear Ms./Mrs./Mr. Employer:
(Be sure to determine the formal designation (Ms./Mrs./Mr.) of the person you are contacting. If you’re not sure, call the organization to confirm.)
Paragraph 1 – Introduction
Use this paragraph to introduce yourself and to get the attention of the employer. Be professional and polite in language and tone. Mention the position you are applying for, why you are applying for the job, and how you found out about it. Show interest in the organization, and explain why you would like to be part of it.
Paragraph 2 and 3 – Description
This is the main body of your letter, which is usually one or two paragraphs long. Explain your qualifications and why you should be considered for the position. Don’t just repeat the content of your résumé; give specific examples and explain how your individual skills will help you in the position you’re applying for. Feel free to talk about any special workplace recognition or awards you received in the past. This part of the letter is meant to convince the employer that you would be a valuable addition to the team.
Paragraph 4 – Closing
It’s important to end your letter in a courteous way. Reinforce your desire to be part of the organization and re-affirm your commitment. Politely request an interview. Provide your personal contact information and an appropriate time to call, in case the employer would like to reach you before you contact him or her. It’s important to follow instructions, so if the job advertisement says not to call or e-mail, respect their wishes.
Thank you,/Yours sincerely,/Yours truly, etc.
[sign your name]
Enclosed: (your résumé)
- Do your homework. Learn what you can about the company or organization (vision, mission, core work, etc.) you’re applying to, and the job description (if relevant), so you can tailor your cover letter and really show the employer that you could be a good fit. Call the company or organization to ask for the job description so that you can familiarize yourself with the requirements.
- Follow instructions. Be sure to include any information that was requested in the job posting. If the posting asked for the amount of hours a week you are available to work, be sure to answer that question in the cover letter.
- Don’t just restate your résumé. Use your letter as an opportunity to make a great first impression. Most employers read the cover letter first, so you want to catch their attention by describing your impressive skills. That way, they are more likely to read your full résumé.
- Personalize your letter. When possible, address your cover letter to a specific person. Use their name and title, and make sure the spelling of the name is correct.
- Tailor your letter to the job. Make sure the skills and experience you highlight in your Cover letters are clearly connected to the job you’re applying for.
- Presentation counts. Use white, letter-sized paper (8.5 x 11-inch) and a font that’s easy to read, like Times New Roman or Arial. Don’t use font size smaller than 10pts and don’t crowd the margins!
- Break it down. Make your cover letter easier to read by breaking the text down into short Paragraphs.
- Use a professional tone. Be sure to use professional and respectful language when writing your cover letter.
- Be brief. Your cover letter should be no more than one page long - the best strategy is to keep it short and to the point.
- Proofread. Review your cover letter several times; don’t just rely on spell-check. Ask someone else to proofread it as well.
Identify your Skills
What are my interests?
Artistic/ Creative Activities: do you like designing and creating attractive things?
artist, interior designer, fashion designer, display artist, crafts person, translator, photographer, chef, hair dresser, fashion designer, tailor, carver, musician, Architect, draftsman, graphic
Clerical and administrative work: do you like working in an office, keeping business records, organizing things and controlling the business?
Accountant, administration officer, finance officer, computer programmer, clerk, typist, receptionist, secretary, events manager
Community services: are you concerned with people welfare and interested in helping people with their problems?
Social worker, doctor, nurse, community worker, psychologist, teacher, journalist, prison officer, police officer, fire fighter, taxi driver, reporter
Engineering and technical work: are you interested in designing and constructing things, working with tools, machines and equipment?
Engineer, technical officer, air traffic controller, motor mechanic, carpenter, plasterer, blacksmith, factory hand, welder
Reading and writing: do you enjoy reading and writing?
Research officer, librarian, teacher, reporter, journalist, editor, writer, TV news reader
Manual/ practical work: are you good with your hands, using tools or making or mending things
Automotive trades, building trades, upholsterer, furniture maker, joiner, garment machinist, kitchen hand, fishing, farming, crafts person, glass maker
Medical work: are you interested in health and working with the sick?
Doctor, dietician, nutritionist, public health officer, ambulance officer, orderly, hospital assistant, nurse
Outdoor activities: Do you enjoy working outdoors?
park ranger, block layer, driver, fish farmer, sailor, marine biologist, archaeologist, diver, civil engineer, farmer, forest ranger.
Personal contact: are you interested in meeting and interacting with people?
Lawyer, psychologist, counselor, personnel officer, human resource officer, mediator, hotel worker, porter, receptionist, welfare worker, social worker, travel consultant, bar attendant, waiter, waitress, hostess, steward
Scientific work: would you like to discover new facts and experiment with scientific things?
Biologist, geologist, pharmacist, lab attendant, chemist, inventor
Agricultural work: Do you enjoy growing and harvesting crops or looking after animals?
Agronomist, agricultural officer, extension officer, farmer, fish farmer, veterinarian
Look through the following lists and check off every skill that you think you have.
- meet deadlines _____
- supervise others ______
- solve problems ______
- teach others and give clear instructions ______
- manage people _____
- organize and manage projects ______
- speak in public _________
- accept responsibility _______
- Plan daily work or special events _______
- follow instructions ______
- generate creative solutions to problems _______
- analyze data, audit and maintain records _______
- check information for accuracy ___________
- pay attention to details ________
- investigate and clarify results ________
- locate answers, gather information _________
- calculate or compute _______
- evaluate _________
- take inventory _________
- keep financial records __________
- research and write reports _________
- arrange meetings or social functions _________
- be competitive when necessary _________
- make decisions _______
- direct the work of others _______
- help set goals for my team ______
- explain things to others _____
- solve problems _______
- motivate people _______
- settle disagreements _______
- plan activities and put them into action ________
- take risks when necessary __________
- organize and chair a meeting _______
- show self-confidence _______
- assemble kits
- build or repair things _____
- Work well with my hands ________
- operate tools or machinery _______
- use complex equipment __________
- drive or operate vehicles ________
- inspect and maintain equipment or vehicles __________
- make a budget, manage money ________
- record facts, classify information by date _______
- help and care for others ______
- manage conflicts, resolve issues ______
- Counsel people _______
- be tactful and diplomatic _______
- Interview people _________
- be kind and understanding _______
- be a good listener ______
- negotiate ________
- be outgoing ________
- show patience _____
- be pleasant and sociable _______
- supervise, teach ________
- be tough when necessary ________
- trust people _______
- trust my instincts _____
- Clearly express myself _________
- talk easily with others _________
- create and talk about new ideas ____________
- design presentations __________
- be inventive _________
- conduct research in a library or on the Internet __________
- set up my own network of experts or helpers __________
- be logical _________
- speak in public __________
- write clear and concise reports ______
- Work well with others _________
Choosing the right people to be your employment references is a crucial step in the job-search process. A reference, or an employment reference, is someone who can comment on your personal character, work ethic, or past work experiences.
References should be given to employers on request, which means you should usually wait for the employer to ask for your references before giving them a reference list. A potential employer will contact your references to get a better understanding of who you are as a person and a worker, to make sure you’re the right fit for the position they’re looking to fill.
There are two types of references:
A character reference, also known as a personal reference, is a person who will vouch for your personal character. This person is usually someone you know outside work, who is not a relative or a social friend. This reference could be someone you’ve helped or someone who knows you very well, like a teacher, religious leader, coach, or club leader.
A professional reference is someone who will speak about your professional work ethic and workplace experience. This is someone you have known in a professional context, like a former boss or supervisor at a place you worked or volunteered.
Employers usually ask for three references. If employers want more or fewer references, they will say so. Make sure you ask for permission before using people as references. This will allow you to give your reference a heads-up on the position you’re applying for, and it will give them a chance to prepare examples to let the employer know how great you really are.
The employer will be contacting your references, so you’ll need to provide the employer with a reference list. This usually includes their full name, address, and phone number. This can be their personal information or business information, whatever the reference is comfortable with providing.
Who are people that you should get references from?
- Your manager
- Team Leader
- A Project Manager
- Or who you reported to
- A coach
- Community Leader
- Client or course tutor
Use the list below to develop your reference list
- Reference Name:
- Title/ Designation:
- Telephone number:
- E-mail address:
- Reference Name:
- Title/ Designation:
- Telephone number:
- E-mail address:
- Reference Name:
- Title/ Designation:
- Telephone number:
- Think ahead. Although reference checks typically happen during the final stages of the hiring process, it’s a good idea to be proactive. Think about who your references could be, let them know that you’re applying for jobs, and ask if they would be willing to be a reference for you.
- Pick someone who knows you well. This will allow the employer to get an accurate, honest, and realistic description of your personality and work ethic. You want a reference who can easily speak about your strengths and abilities.
- Update your reference list often. Make sure your references are as current as possible, and link them to your most recent job, volunteer, or community experience.
- Presentation counts. Your reference list should be on a clean sheet of plain paper. Use an easy-to-read, 12-point font like Arial or Times New Roman to match your résumé.
- Say “thank you”. Your reference is doing you a favour by speaking to an employer to help you land a job. Be sure to thank them for helping you out.