So, you have finished Uni, you have done your fair share of casual jobs along the way to pay the bills and now you want to land that all-important entry-level role to launch your dream career.  How should you go about it?

Like many people I undertook a two-week, work experience placement whilst at high school.  This was my first time in an office, my first look at the world of work and it was a piece of advice from the firm’s HR Manager that has stayed with me and that I have always implemented when looking for a new role.  And that advice?

“Always treat a job application like a project”

Yep, that was his advice it’s a project!  Let’s break that down.

  1. Do your research

Before attempting any job application spend time researching the company, its history and current performance.  If it’s a public company, check out its latest financial results and if it is not, see if you can find any recent press articles.  Know how the company is currently performing and what its’ growth strategy is.

  1. Write a different CV for every application

Sending a generic CV with each job application is not only lazy, but it means you may not get through the initial stage due to a couple of reasons.  Firstly, many companies use AI software, which is looking for keywords and phrases, this will vary from the job ad to job ad.  So, read the job ad carefully and ensure that you include keywords from the ad in your CV.  Secondly, once you get pass the AI, you need to impress the human gatekeeper.  Try and align your CV to the brand you are applying to in terms of look and feel.  If it’s a serious corporate, ensure your CV reflects this and if the brand has fun, vibrant brand handwriting, give your CV the same treatment.

  1. Write a cover letter

Many people make the mistake of writing about why they want the job in their cover letter, what’s in it for them.  Make the cover letter about what you feel you bring to the organisation and the role.  This is also your opportunity to show you know something about the organisation, briefly mention something you have recently read about the company.

  1. Find out who’s who in the zoo

Before you go for the interview, find out who the management team are, and where they have worked previously.  Thankfully because of LinkedIn, this is a lot easier than it used to be.  Research the person who will be interviewing you.  Is there anyone in your network who knows them, if so, find out about them, what they are like to work with and what are their pet peeves?

  1. Interview preparation

Think about the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked and how you would answer those.  Many interviewers use scenario-based questions, things like, “tell me a time when you demonstrated leadership”, or else they may give you a scenario and ask you how you would handle a situation.  As well as the technical skills to perform in a role, interviewers are interested in your aptitude and the way you relate to and work with others.  Once you have got your questions and answers, ask a friend or family member to do a role play with you.  The more you practice, the better you will perform on the day.

During the interview, listen, smile, answer confidently, but not defensively and remember to breathe.

Wishing you the very best of luck in landing your first BIG role!