Employment tips

personal statement

1. Tailor your CV to the job specification of the vacancy you are applying for.
2. Read your CV out loud and more than once to check the information you include and the flow of the prose.
3. Proofread before sending it off. Try asking a friend to check it and use spell check on your computer.
4. Make sure you include up to date contact information.
5. Save your CV with your ‘NAME’. An employer could receive many CVs with the file name CV.doc do not let yours be that unmemorable.

1. Only put the relevant information in your CV such as work experience and qualifications. You do not need to include your age, gender, or disabilities.
2. Do not make your CV too long. No more than two pages.
3. Never lie or include false information.
4. In the UK you do not need to include a photograph5. .
5. If submitting online do check you are submitting your CV in correct file format. Read the application instructions carefully.

One of the most frustrating aspects of completing applications can be the personal statement. Knowing what to write, how to start and perfecting it can be tricky to get right. So here are a few quick tips on how to write a better personal statement for your university, placement, or job application.

1. Concentrate on your skills and qualities  
It is important to clarify and focus on your skills and qualities, to concisely communicate your strengths.

2. Always illustrate your skills and qualities with examples 
Putting your skills and qualities into context, with examples from your work and volunteering experience demonstrates your abilities. So, you won’t just be telling the employer what you are good at, instead you will be showing them how.

3. Just Write 
Don’t spend ages working out how to write the best opening sentence from the start, as it is a waste of time. Just dive straight in and start writing your first attempt will not be perfect, but you can fix it later. Right at the start you need to focus on having words on the page. Use your CV to guide what examples and experiences you include.

4. Be enthusiastic  
Personal statements are all about you, it is the one topic in life you already completely know without having to revise. So, show it and get across who you are, your interests, strengths, relevant experience and how you would be successful in what you are applying for.

5. Why are you applying for this role? 
Remember to emphasise why you are applying and say why this particular opportunity that you are taking the time to apply for. Tailor your answer to this question based on how it is relevant to your current studies, who you are applying to, and what they are looking for in a successful candidate.

6. Go the extra mile 
Show how you are proactive in following your interests and adding to your studies by showing your wider research, such as relevant reading, lectures and talks you have accessed. If it is a job you are applying for look on the company’s website and social media to gain insight into their world. Use this information to tailor your application and match your experience with their needs.

7. Career Goals 
Mention your future plans and how this role would fit in with your career aspirations.

8. For a super ending 
Summarise with a positive statement maybe include career goals, or why you would be an asset for what you are applying to.

9. Mercilessly edit 
Personal statements need to be clear and concise, so don’t be reluctant in editing out passages that you have placed lots of time and effort in crafting. The basic question to have in mind whilst editing is ‘is this sentence necessary?’ If so, what words can you cut out to make it shorter and more to the point. To get the sense of the flow of your writing it can help to read your draft out loud.

10. Get feedback 
Make sure you have time to get others to proofread it and ask for constructive feedback.

Many job applications will ask for you to submit a Covering Letter.
A strong covering letter will make you and your CV stand out. As long as you can get across how your experience and your personality is a perfect fit for the vacancy.
Use the covering letter to demonstrate how you fit each of the required criteria in the person specification.
The covering letter is your chance to persuade and compel the employer that you have what it takes to fulfil this role.
Follow the person specification for how to match your skills and experience to what the company are looking for in a good candidate. If the Job advert only has limited information, then go and research what similar roles in other organisations expect.

Answer the following points to structure your covering letter:

– What is the vacancy you are applying to?
– How did you hear about the role and company?
– Address each point in the person specification and how you are suited to each requirement.
– For the overarching key skills and themes relate to your relevant skills and experience. By providing examples to prove how you have these skills that match what is needed for the role.
– What will you bring to the role? Be confident in your experience and skills and communicate it to the employer.
– Why are you interested in working for this company?
– End with a strong positive statement on why you would be an asset.

1. Research the company and their work before the interview.
2. Be enthusiastic.
3. Dress smartly.
4. Use examples to demonstrate how you have learned from your experiences.
5. Be confident, speak clearly and maintain good eye contact.

1. Don’t be late.
2. Don’t worry if your mind goes blank, you can ask them to repeat the question.
3. If you do not know the answer, do not make something up. Instead explain how you find out the answer in a real-world situation.
4. Don’t dress inappropriately it is better to be too formal than too casual.
5. Showing no real interest in the organisation and their work will make a bad first impression. It is important to make sure you have done your research.

Lots of interviews and applications are Competency based. This is where they compare the skills your answers demonstrate against the vacancy’s specification. Use the CAR Method to answer competency-based questions in interviews and applications.

The CAR Method

Use one detailed example from your work and voluntary experience to answer each interview question.

1 – Explain the context of your example. What was the aim of your task?
2 – What did you do? What skills did your actions demonstrate? Match these skills to the ones required for the vacancy you are applying for.
3 – What was the outcome? How were your actions successful?

When preparing for interviews it is useful to brainstorm your answers with the CAR Method.

– Identify your key transferable skills and qualities from your previous work experience.
– Transferable skills can include Communication, Interpersonal, Organisation, Teamwork, Problem Solving, and Leadership skills.
– Write down your key skills and think about a time when you demonstrated this skill in your work experience. Then apply the CAR Method to this example.

Examples of Competency Based Interview Questions

Planning and Organisation
– Describe a time when you were given a task to complete. How did you organise your work and manage competing priorities?
– When have you had to multi-task to ensure your work was complete on time?

– When have you used effective communication skills to resolve a problem?
– Provide an example of when you needed to communicate effectively to influence the outcome of a situation?

Problem Solving
– When have you innovated a creative solution to resolve an unexpected problem?
– Describe a time when you faced a problem at work, how did you deal with it and what was the outcome? Why does this experience make you a stronger applicant?
– Tell us about a time you overcame a challenging situation?

– When have you utilised your leadership skills and thought outside the box to set the direction of your team?
– How have you managed a team successfully?
– When have you led a team successful and how did you respond to the challenges?
– When have you influenced a group of people outside of your own peer group?

– Describe a time when you have ensured that all team members contributed? How does this experience make you a better applicant?
– When have you been part of a new team and had to encourage the group to work towards a shared goal?

Examples of Interview questions

– Tell us about yourself
– Why are you applying to this role?
– What do you know about the job and the company?
– Why is this the right role for you now?
– What do you hope to gain?
– What are your strengths? Think about what motivates you and how this will be useful in this role.
– What are your weaknesses? Show self-awareness and explain how you have been managing your personal development.
– Do you have any questions for us?
– Examples of when you have demonstrated a particular skill.
– What are your career goals?

Examples of volunteering interview questions

– Please tell us about one example of your volunteering or work experience which demonstrates your commitment to making a positive social impact?
– Explain the details of a project, the impact of your involvement and what you have learnt from the experience. How has this reinforced your desire to be involved in the non-profit sector?

Examples of questions you could ask

– Can you describe the typical day and workload I might expect?
– What do you enjoy about working for this company?
– What way is performance measured or reviewed?

Needing employment support ? We provide a weekly jobs club and maintain a large range of vacancies, and we have regular contact with employers.  If you are unemployed, or are considering a career change, higher or further education, then our team will be pleased to help you to explore all possible options.