Thought Leadership


Top Tips for Applying for Your Dream Job

March 03 2016 By Progression

The search for a job can be a difficult and daunting task. Finding and applying for the right job often involves applying for multiple positions, with plenty of competition from other candidates applying for the same position. So how do you ensure that the person receiving your job application is going to notice you? Ali Tambellini, Progression's Training Academy Manager, talks about her top tips and what to do when applying for jobs or enagaging with the recruitment industry.

Include a cover letter on your application. When writing your cover letter make sure that it is punchy and to the point. Remember that it needs to summarise your interest in the position. The person reading this has a mountain of applications to plough through so make sure it keeps the person interested and doesn't ramble on and on.

Optimise your CV. Your CV itself needs to remain as factual and to the point as possible. Keep sentences short and where possible make use of lists, for example you can write down your strengths or achievements in a list format. Summarise your education history. You don't need to list every subject that you did throughout your educational career. However it is important to highlight subjects or qualifications that are perhaps a requisite for the job, like the fact that you completed Maths in Matric or if you specialised in a particular field in your tertiary education. The point is to keep it relevant.

Follow up with a phone call. After submitting your application, a courtesy follow-up the following day to ensure the company has received it is fine. However, keep it to that - do not ask 'When can I come for an interview?' or 'What did you think?' or any other presumptuous questions.  Your goal is simply to make sure that they have received it.


Throughout the job application process there are some key elements that always apply from writing your CV to arriving at the interview. Below are some important tips to keep in mind when engaging in the job application process.

Be honest. A fabrication on your CV or in the interview can result in unnecessary stress for you if you are to be employed in the position. This could be for something as simple as transport to and from the business; if transportation is going to be problematic, you should be honest about it from the beginning.

Be professional. You can remain true to yourself in an interview and still be professional. Think about your dress code and how you present yourself. This is equally as important when dealing with a recruiter prior to even seeing a company. If a recruiter does not think you are professional enough, they may not forward you on for an interview.

Be punctual. This is critically important! If a recruiter or potential employer would like to meet with you, be on time for your interview. Being a few minutes early can give you some extra time in case you need it, but try not to be more than 15 minutes early. Arriving extremely early can cause frustration for your interviewer and start your interview off on the wrong foot. The same goes for arriving late.

Be prepared. Always have extra copies of your documents (CV, ID docs, etc.) when going for an interview. Most times the person interviewing you will have a copy, but if they don't it is good to be prepared with a copy for both them and yourself.

Be confident. Knowing what is on your CV is important - if you are "umming" and "ahhing" when asked a question about something mentioned in your CV, it may give potential employers or recruiters the impression that the information is untrue.

Be respectful. Do not bad mouth past employers, colleagues or companies. Try and showcase your learnings by talking about the positive experiences in the jobs that you've been involved in rather than turning the interview into a 'rant' about what you didn't enjoy about your job.

Be to the point. Listen carefully to what is being asked so that you can answer the questions correctly and completely. If you are asked about your strengths and weaknesses, keep it to your professional skills, not personal things (avoid mentioning that you have a bad temper or that you're very unorganised, etc.).

And lastly, some definite 'do nots' when applying for a job. Although these may seem obvious, they are common mistakes made by jobseekers.

Do not harass the recruiter. If you have been to an interview and have not heard back from a recruiter within two weeks, this usually means you have been unsuccessful (but not always). Do not call them every day, and whatever you do, do not be rude if you are told that you have not been selected for the position.

Do not sell yourself short. Every person can add value in some way, you need to identify where your value lies and use it to your advantage.

Do not use clichés. I always tell my learners to refrain from using the statement 'I'm a hard worker' in anything job-seeking related. This tells me nothing about you, and If I have ten CV's in front of me and all of them tell me that the candidate is hard-working, I've learned nothing. Rather tell me HOW you are a hard worker. What is it that you do that makes you a hard worker?

Don't talk 'salary' in the first interview. If the interviewer asks, 'market related income' is a good, safe answer for both you and the potential employer. Salary should never be a deciding factor for a job and employers want to feel that you are working for their business and not just the money.

Self- awareness or knowing yourself is of utmost importance when finding the right job. When you are applying for a job, you need to be able to identify what you want, what you stand for, what kind of culture you would like to be in, etc. Knowing these things will assist you in finding the right position and showing interviewers that you are the right fit for their organisation.

There are no hard and fast rules for finding a job, but the above areas will certainly assist with getting you noticed.



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