Applying for a job can be hard work, but by thinking about what the employer wants to know about you can make it easier. We hope the following advice can help.
When going though a large number of applications, the employer is looking for reasons that you stand out - this can be for good or bad reasons. Make sure your application is one that the employer wants to read. Make their job easy! They'll appreciate it.
Do your research! What is the organisation about? For example, we commonly receive applications that confuse us with the University. If applicants have read about us, they will know that we are independent and why this is important. We need to see that you understand who we are and what we do.
Always type your application, handwriting can sometimes be difficult to decipher (if you have reasons for wanting to handwrite such as sight or language difficulties, please let us know).
If you are typing straight into an application form, always, always, always spell check it.
Read each section of the application form a couple of times to check that you understand the information which is being requested. In the same way you read an assignment or exam paper, look for the instruction words. If you are asked to describe your experience, describe it. If you are asked to list it, list it. Always follow the instructions.
Try not to leave sections blank, if a section doesn't apply to you instead write ‘not applicable’ so the employer knows that you have read that section.
The ‘supporting information’ section is where the employer really wants you to sell yourself. This section is where you outline how you meet each of the areas on the Person Specification in the job pack. Make sure you read the Person Specification carefully and identify your skills and areas of strength.
The Person Specification lists skills and attributes that are necessary to be successful in the role. You will need to show the employer that you can do these. They won't just expect you to show them ‘on the job’, so make sure you write exactly how you meet these specifications with examples from your education, volunteering or work experience. You do this in the supporting information section, so make good use of this space to show employers what you've got to offer!
Each item on the person specification list will state if it is ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’ and how it will be tested. Even though some of the criteria may be classed as “desirable”, if you have something to say on that area you should still try to include it. Use lots of examples of how you meet the criteria. The employer will have a shortlisting form in front of them and will use each area of the person specification to assess the level to which you meet the criteria.
If you don’t include some information, even if it is somewhere else in the application, the employer may presume that you don’t have that skill. This could be why you won't be given an interview!
You can use any experience you have; whether it’s from your course, extra-curricular activities or previous employment to demonstrate what skills you have in this area. Don’t just state that you have the skills e.g. I have good IT skills from using a computer at University. Instead you could say (please note this is only an example)
I am proficient in a range of different Microsoft Office packages including Word which I have used to complete assignments and reports up to 5000 words and PowerPoint to produce presentation slides as part of group work projects. I use email to keep in touch with my tutors and find out information and updates which may be relevant to me as well as keep a calendar of events and notification to keep me on track with my work.
In the supporting information section, don’t just write an essay of all your experience, instead use headings which relate to the person specification to 'chunk' the information together. You can also use bullet points and short paragraphs. This makes it so much easier for the employer to read and easily see how you meet the person specification.
If possible, try and think about your achievements and outcomes (this may come with more experience throughout your career) and include numbers to use as examples - e.g. if you have presented work to large and small groups, mention the number of people and frequency. If you contributed to work or an activity that made a difference, highlight what you did and how much.
Don’t make things up – you will be found out. Employers will contact the referees that you include on the application form providing them with an outline of the job and if asking if they think that you would be able to do the job based on their knowledge and experience of you.
Again, we can't stress it enough - spell check all of your forms, and read through, checking that it makes sense and reads well before you submit it. Poorly written English indicates that either your communication skills are not as good as you think, or that you lack the attention to detail to proof read your work. Don't be afraid to ask others to help with proof reading - every writer needs an editor! Your friends and family can usualy spot things that you may not!
Good luck in your future applications!
You can apply for lots of different jobs with the University of Salford Students’ Union:
As a not for profit charity, we always welcome volunteers! You can also join or set up an activity/sports group and be part of a committee role, gaining valuable real work place skills.
Student Activities committee roles are an excellent way to gain valuable work experience. Students who can show participation in extra curricular activities are usually considered for jobs over non-participatory students!
See more on how to be elected to these roles on our elections pages.
We advertise our roles here and via our Facebook/Twitter accounts, so keep an eye out.