Unless you are using informal job search methods, your job application is likely to be the first correspondence you will have with an employer who will use it to decide whether to shortlist you for an interview.
What do employers look for in applications?
Employers are keen to know about your academic ability, experiences and skills you have gained and your participation in a variety of activities. These are indicators of your potential value to them. You will need to draw on these activities to market yourself.
Employers value these competencies.
You need to show examples of how you use them.
- communication and interpersonal skills – when have I handled a difficult or intimidating person well?
- research skills – what methods or strategies did I use to research something?
- critical thinking/analytical ability – have I had to think on my feet? when? what did I do?
- judgement/problem solving – when have I had to evaluate consequences before I could make a decision?
- team work – when have I worked in a team situation that went really well or really poorly and what made it that way?
- quick learner/self-starter – when have I had to learn about something in a very short space of time?
- initiative/innovation – when have I identified a problem and come up with a solution without being asked?
- leadership – when have I voluntarily taken a leadership role in a work situation or project?
Other competencies to consider and include are adaptability, flexibility, motivation, enthusiasm, creativity, self-management, technical or theoretical knowledge. You will need to consider which competencies are a priority for your application, identify them and write examples from your work to demonstrate your use and achievements in them.
It is essential that you treat your application as a marketing document. Employers can easily differentiate between a targeted application and one that has not been tailored to incorporate the priorities, values and skills required by them.
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