How To Land your Dream Job

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The Blogcademy, the blogging and business workshop I co-run, recently advertised for an events coordinator. I’ve never hired anyone before (I don’t think my husband counts, he was a bit of a shoo-in!) or had to go through job applications, so this was actually a massive learning experience for me too.

We had over 100 applications (!) and going through so many in short succession really did show me – quickly – the mistakes people were making over and over again. I hope some of the things I realised can also help you if you’re planning to apply for a new job soon.

Be short and concise… but not too brief

As I said, we had over 100 applications to go through and anyone who rambled on for too long in their initial email or covering letter instantly started getting on my nerves (harsh, I know..!) While you certainly should include a letter which lays out why you want the job and what you can bring to the role, be sure to make everything relevant and get to your points quickly!

Use your covering letter to really sell yourself to your potential employer but don’t tell your life story. We don’t need to hear about your childhood nicknames or the fact that you make the best god-damn brownies in the world. Show that you’re passionate and well-versed in the company ethos and that you are qualified for the role, but if something isn’t relevant, take it out!

On the flip side there were some people who literally just sent in their CV and an email that said “You should check me out!” To an employer that looks like you don’t really care about the specific job you’re applying for and you haven’t put any effort into your application.

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Be personable but professional

This will, of course, completely depend on the kind of role and company you are applying to, but for anything in the creative field I’d say don’t worry about trying to be too formal. Anyone who sounded OVER formal or started their email with “To whom it may concern” made us feel like they wouldn’t be a good fit. We’re very silly and laid back at The Blogcademy!

It’s important to be personable and show your passion for the role and company, but remember that you are applying for a job, not to be someone’s new BFF. There is a fine line between being personal, approachable and showcasing your personality and being too over-familiar.

Be personable and interesting, of course, but above everything remain professional. It is your qualifications that will ultimately sell you to an employer, not the fact that you’ll bring them lattes every morning or you want to hang out with them all day.

Make a point of your relevant experience or qualifications

When we were going through our applications the first thing we wanted to see was relevant experience. It didn’t matter if it was voluntary or unpaid, just that they demonstrated that they’d done something similar before.

You shouldn’t include every little thing you’ve ever done on your CV and it’s perfectly OK to edit it for the specific job you’re applying for. To be honest, once you get past the age of 21 most employers really don’t care what GCSE’s or A-Level’s you’ve got (unless they specifically request them) or the fact that you worked in Burger King as an after school job. If something doesn’t relate to or help your application in any way then take it out.

For bonus points, why not include some photos or links to this relevant past work too?! The people that did this got much further in the selection process because we could actually see the examples they were referring to and could quickly determine if their style and visual aesthetic matched ours.

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Let your employer know what’s in it for them

With so many applications to go through, someone that had the foresight to lay out exactly what they could do for us in the role instantly stood out. It showed that they’d really thought about the task at hand and that they cared enough to go that extra mile and put some additional effort in. The more specific they were, the better too.

Attention to detail matters

This is SO important. Double and triple check spelling, grammar and that you’ve got everyone’s names right!

Anyone that called The Blogcademy, the ‘Blog Academy’ was pretty much instantly dismissed.
Anyone who missed parts of their application off were put to one side.
Anyone that didn’t include vital information like contact details or past experience were passed over.

If you can’t follow simple instructions when applying for the job it doesn’t really bode well for how you’d perform if you actually got it. I know it sounds quite mean, but when you’re up against a huge number of applicants, the employer has to be a lot more strict with things like that.

Stand out!

Everyone says that they are perfect for the job… that’s boring (and not always true) and doesn’t make you memorable. Be different!

Doing something unique will not only make you stand out, but will probably make the employer happy. If they enjoy reading your application then they’re going to be much more likely to give you a shot.

We had a few applicants that made videos which they sent in with their CV and covering letter. They not only helped to give us a feel of them as a person, but they were genuinely entertaining. They broke up the monotonous process of having to go through so many emails and made us smile! We had others that included mood boards, sketches or links to their blogs.

Of course a video application or mood board might not be appropriate if you were applying for a corporate job, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t think of some unique ways to make your application distinctive. Remember, your potential employer is still a human being, so try to make reading your application an enjoyable process, whatever kind of job you’re applying for.

I hope you’ve found these tips useful and best of luck in landing that dream job! And if you’ve ever hired anyone, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Is there something people do over and over again that drives you crazy or are there things you wish people would do more of?

Supporting Cast

7 comments

  1. I’ve done lots of hiring, and three things that drive me mad are spelling and grammar errors, when someone has obviously reused a letter that they’ve sent to multiple places (like accidentally leaving the name of the last place they sent the letter to in one section of the letter), and finally, when one of the first questions they ask is, “when can I get promoted out of this position?”

    I sometimes feel badly about my reaction to spelling and grammar errors, as they could be complete accidents and eliminating wonderful people, but when you have tons of applications to go through, you’ve got to start cutting it down somehow. And I have more sympathy for using the same or similar cover letters multiple times these days, as the economy has been so crap for the past few years. But the people who clearly just want the job I am advertising for as an in to the company drive me nuts. Most people want to progress and move up, but there’s a difference between being active and interested and being blatant about just trying to get into the company so you can get into a better position, like, tomorrow.

    Great tips, Kat!

  2. Stephanie

    Great advice. Most of this goes for applying to universities or scholarships, too! Not reusing a cover letter (or personal statement, in the case of college applications) is key. It’s okay to use some of the same language and sentiments but re-write it every time or you will inevitably make the mistake of forgetting to change a school name. (I speak from experience – I have made this mistake!)

  3. This could not come at a better time for me. Having been recently made unemployed this is super relevant and i shall apply some of your wisdom in my CV.Now why didn’t I think of linking photos from our blog site.
    Thanks again Timmy x

  4. Angela Porras

    The cover letter is where I cock my head. Concise, but show personality and interest, and talk about what you can offer via your background, but make it short… it’s a tough one!

  5. Hazel Robinson

    The Worst is when you have reams of the same c.v, the names maybe different but it’s almost as if they’ve copied and pasted their c.v and they all claim to be pro-active!
    I’m a florist which can be quite competitive I’d reccomend not sticking to white A4 paper I’ve got many interviews because I’ve printed my C.V onto floral A4 paper anything that makes your prospective employer pick your c.v out to read is always a good thing!

  6. A few years ago, I used to work in PR, which, as most folks know, is a notoriously difficult industry to get into as it’s so over subscribed. I decided that, even though I didn’t have any actual direct experience, I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I researched all the PR companies in my catchment area, wrote individually tailored letters to them all, together with a tailored CV highlighting how my particular strengths and skills could not only be easily transferable, but also highly valuable.

    It took a few months to even get seen by an agency, but I was determined not to give up, and soon enough a creative agency gave me a chance in a temporary role based on my events experience; suddenly, I was working with opera companies and helping arrange promotional parties for multi million pound penthouses, attended by foreign royalty.

    That role lead to permanent roles in the retail industry, hitting Account Director status within three years.

    Ok, now I’m a photographer, so something of a side step (but a very pleasant one!) – but it just goes to show that if you are dedicated enough and believe in yourself enough, others will believe in you too.

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