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So you've got as far as finding a job that you want to apply for. So what now? Most companies will want you to apply either by completing an application form or by submitting a CV and covering letter. This is the essential first step and you want to make the best impression as possible to ensure that you get to interview stage. Throughout this page, we give you some useful tips on how best to approach this stage.

Applying by application

Many companies prefer candidates to apply using their own application forms. A lot of the information they will request will be on your CV but they may ask specific questions which are relevant to the company. Here's some steps to get you thinking.

  • 1Check the job description

    The first step is always to read the job description carefully. Whilst you're reading through it, it is always a good idea to start thinking about how you can show them that you can meet each of their requirements and reflect this in your answers.

  • 2Online applications

    It's very common these days for applications to be written and submitted online so make sure you're saving the application as you go along and double check that you have completed every single section before pressing send.

  • 3Check your spelling

    Remember to check your spelling – especially if it’s an online application which won’t have a spell-check facility that you can rely on. Bad spelling or grammar could mean an instant rejection.

  • 4Having problems?

    If you are having any problems submitting your application, phone them to check. You should receive an email to confirm submission but of you don’t then double check.

    Applying by CV

    Another way of applying is to send in a CV and covering letter. This means that there are no prompts or questions for you to complete so you need to make sure that you have something prepared that is relevant to the job that you're applying for. Here's some steps to help you decide what to include in your CV.

    • 1The Essential Bit

      At the very top of every CV, you need to include your personal and contact information. This should include your name, address, contact details including your phone number and email address.

    • 2Personal profile

      Every CV should begin with a personal profile. This is the first thing the company will read when they see your CV and is there to make sure that they can quickly see all your relevant experience. This section sits at the top of your CV underneath your contact details and it’s your opportunity to describe yourself, your skills and experience. Make sure you tailor this to the position you’re applying for so match it to the job description. 

    • 3Work history and/or experience

      This is where you should list any work experience – whether this paid work, placements or voluntary work. List them by date (most recent first) with the job title, dates you worked there and a bulleted list or description of your roles and responsibilities.

    • 4Education and qualifications

      Underneath your work history section, you should list any qualifications or achievements in date order including the grades you received. You could also include any relevant training you have had - this could include anything from First Aid to Presentation skills.

    • 5Interests, achievements or hobbies

      It's always good to sign off with a little bit about your hobbies and interests and these could include anything that has given you skills that can be related to the job you’re applying for. Show how interesting you are but leave out passive hobbies like watching TV.

    • 6Covering letter

      Finally, don’t forget, you’ll still need to include a covering email or letter with your CV. This should explain why you want the job, what it is that you think that you’ve got that you can bring to the job, what skills you’ve got that are relevant and also a little bit about yourself. If you're handing in or posting your CV, the covering letter should be stapled to the front. If you are emailing your CV, then the covering letter should be the email that goes with it.

      Why not give it a go?

      CV Builder helps you to put together a basic CV quickly. Just fill out each section and then preview and download your CV.

      Make it work: our killer tips


      Easy on the eye

      Keep it brief: No more than two pages of A4

      Don’t go overboard with the layout: avoid unusual fonts, tables and columns.

      Keep it easy to read: use bullet points for lists of your experience.

      White space: is good space, don’t cram your CV with too much text, space it out.

      Get it right

      Tailor it: tempted to send out the same CV to every job ad? Well don’t, make sure that you read the job description and tailor each CV so that it’s relevant to each job.

      Speak their language: take keywords and skills from the job description and use them in your CV and show people how you have the experience to meet those.

      Be positive: you want that job, show them. Use positive and assertive language such as "developed", "organised" or "achieved".

      Show them what you can offer: Really highlight any valuable skills and experience you have gained from past work positions, even if it was just working in a restaurant – every little helps.

      Common Mistakes

      Use an email address that is professional: address like "" may not give the right impression.

      Don’t make mistakes: 9 out of 10 CVs have errors on them – even a spelling mistake could mean an automatic rejection so make sure you check.

      Check it: remember spell check isn’t always perfect: get a human to read it through for you.

      Don’t lie. Blatant lies on your CV is a definite no. Employers will check your background and references and you don’t want to get caught out.

      Book now for an appointment with our Careers Advisers.